Food for Life campaign aims to encourage sustainable healthier diets across the UAEThu 24 Feb 2022
DUBAI: The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) and the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) is launching an awareness and engagement campaign themed “Food for Life”, in cooperation with Emirates Nature-WWF and The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).
The two-month campaign was announced during the Food For Future Summit and marks the successful conclusion of the Food, Agriculture & Livelihoods Week, which ran from February 17 to 23 at Expo 2020 Dubai.
Held at Dubai Exhibition Hall, Expo 2020 Dubai, the ‘Food for Life’ induction ceremony was spearheaded by Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and the Environment, and Dr. Amin Hussein Al Amiri, Assistant Undersecretary for the Health Regulation Sector (MoHAP) Laila Mostafa Abdullatif, Director General of Emirates Nature-WWF, and Dr. Dino Francescutti Motis, FAO Subregional Coordinator for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) States and Yemen and FAO Representative in the UAE, alongside a number of senior officials from the two ministries.
‘Food for Life’ aims to build a better, healthier future by educating and engaging with people about the impact that their food choices have on their health, and the health of the planet. The campaign will provide interactive, impactful and informative content and hands-on activities for the community to participate in, accessible via the ‘Food for Life’ digital platform, which will promote healthy diets from sustainable food systems.
The campaign will position the UAE, and mobilise the community, to be at the forefront of driving change towards rethinking and reshaping our diets for the personal health and wellbeing of our planet.
A recent survey commissioned by key ‘Food for Life’ partners highlighted the need for education and awareness around healthy diets in the UAE. It found that less than 25 per cent of UAE residents eat whole foods every day. Under a third of respondents reported that price was an issue, rather the top three challenges to incorporating more whole foods were food culture in the home, lack of time and easy access to cheap and convenient food.
The campaign will feature a series of activities that will contribute to improving healthy dietary patterns, and promoting healthy diet strategies from sustainable food systems to protect the public’s health, preserve the environment and bolster the national economy.
A panel discussion entitled “Food for Life” was held during the ceremony to reveal the slogan and objectives of the campaign. As part of the event, several VIPs together with other delegates toured the “Food for Life Farmer’s Market” where they viewed cooking demonstrations by local chefs and took part in taste tests.
A youth engagement workshop also took place, to encourage the youth to start considering their food choices, and empower them to become change-makers in their own spheres of influence.
The campaign’s announcement coincides with the Food for Future Summit, a global event that took place from 23rd and 24th February to host, support and pave the way for food innovations and solutions.
The summit discussed ways of improving security and promoting the food and agricultural value chain, with the participation of international delegations, NGO leaders, agricultural technology innovators, scientists, inventors and academics from around the world who all gathered for one purpose; i.e. ensuring a secure and nutritious food future for all.
The upcoming Dubai Food Festival (DFF) will be a major event to be held in conjunction with the campaign from March 3 to 19. The annual culinary celebration will be full of food-related activities and focus on vegetarian and nutritious food. It will bring together many celebrity chefs.
Earth Hour will be a global event to take place in tandem with the campaign on March 26 where individuals and organisations from all over the world stand in solidarity with the planet. The global initiative aims to unit people to take action on environmental issues and protect the planet in addition to urging businesses and governments to help build a positive, carbon-neutral future for generations to come.
Ongoing community events, with the likes of local farms and food waste groups, will be taking place throughout the campaign. The UAE community is encouraged to visit the Food for Life digital platform for details on how to get involved.
In her speech at the launch, Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and the Environment, said: “Food for Life aims to highlight the role food plays in our lives and the connectivity between healthy diets and sustainable food systems. The food we choose to eat and the way we produce it is affecting not only our health but also the health of our planet. The global food system is the single biggest contributor to biodiversity loss, deforestation, drought, freshwater pollution, and the collapse of aquatic wildlife. It’s also the second-biggest generator of greenhouse gas emissions after the energy industry. It’s a vicious circle, and it’s only up to us to break it.”
Abdul Rahman bin Mohammad bin Nasser Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention (MoHAP), stressed that the ministry together with its strategic partners are fully committed to promoting community health, providing health care services in accordance with international best practices, and protecting society from chronic diseases.
“Guided by the UAE vision to upgrade the local health sector and driven by international and regional policies and strategies, the ministry and its strategic partners will expand the scope of nutrition initiatives to ensure a healthier and sustainable future, promote nutrition education and enhance the public’s health.” Al Owais added.
The minister reaffirmed the MoHAP commitment to updating the national nutritional guidelines, developing nutritional methodologies for all segments of society, and upgrading legislative frameworks that promote and support healthy food systems.
Al Owais stressed the importance of MoHAP’s partnership with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, the Emirates Nature-WWF, and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), adding that such partnership will ensure the success of the initiative.
“The Food for Life campaign will certainly support the government’s ongoing efforts to draw an integrated roadmap to develop sustainable food health systems from one hand, and find radical solutions to nutritional health challenges from the other, thus improving the health condition of the entire community. This comes in line with the UAE’s efforts being made to become one of the most significant change-makers in the world in reshaping and re-redefining healthy food systems”.
He noted that the ministry’s plans and strategies play an effective role in improving the national health indicators’ results, reducing obesity prevalence among children and adolescents, and cutting down the level of lifestyle-related diseases, while focusing on improving data about the relationship between nutrition and disease to design and develop effective policies, monitor and evaluate frameworks, thus developing a society enjoying an advanced level of sustainable health. This comes in line with the UAE’s vision to help realize the 2025 global nutrition targets and sustainable development goals 2030.
Meanwhile, Salem Al Darmaki, Advisor to the Minister of Health and Prevention, affirmed that health and food security is one of the most important strategic pillars to promote sustainable development and here is where the “Food for Life” campaign comes into play.
“In addition to supporting the Ministry’s plans and programmes developed to build a sustainable food future, the campaign will help decrease the risks of non-communicable diseases associated with the food system, achieve optimal growth and development for all individuals, and cement the functional performance and physical, mental and social well-being of current and future generations,” Al Darmaki said.
He noted that the campaign’s partners share the same vision and goal. They are all seeking to shed light on the role food plays in supporting community health, and the interrelationship between healthy patterns and sustainable food systems. They are also seeking to highlight the need to develop healthy eating habits, to improve lifestyles, health, nutrition, and the environment as well as create a better understanding of food and nature for future generations.
Laila Mostafa Abdullatif, Director General of Emirates Nature-WWF, “The Food for Life campaign will mobilise every corner of UAE society to transform our behaviours and food systems for a healthier, sustainable future that respects the role of the environment and the health of humanity. Together we have the power to fix our food systems, from producer to retailer and every single consumer – we can all make better, healthier food choices that increase demand for sustainably-sourced produce. We have the individual and collective responsibility to do so”.
Dr. Dino Francescutti, FAO Subregional Coordinator for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) States and Yemen and FAO Representative in the UAE highlighted “Healthy Diets are important to achieve optimal growth and development for all individuals and the environment. Awareness and education around healthy diets and food systems are necessary to address the global, regional and local challenges and to allow us to understand the connections between food, diet, health, and planet”
“Current food systems need to be transformed and reformed. Healthy diets play an important role in our journey to a sustainable future, with inclusive, efficient, resilient and sustainable food systems– especially important in a post-COVID-19 world. The health of people globally lies on our plate: the way in which food is farmed, fished, processed, distributed, valued, prepared, consumed and wasted must change to ensure that environmental, social and economic sustainability of food become core assets of national and global food systems, for present and future generations,” Dr. Francescutti added.
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