Political action is needed to support fresh, healthy, and sustainable food systems

  • Europe

Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe has been calling upon key EU policy-makers to take collaborative action to put policies in place to support a sustainable food system. Addressing both the European Commission and the European Parliament, HCWH Europe has joined calls for an EU food policy and reforms of existing agricultural policy. 

On 16 July, HCWH Europe joined over 35 environmental, health, agricultural, and consumer organisations to reiterate our call for an EU food policy. In an open letter, the group of signatories also called upon the newly elected Commission President, Ms von der Leyen, to appoint a European Commission Vice-President responsible for the transition to sustainable food systems.

Read the call here

Reforming our food systems is an opportunity for the EU to address citizens’ concerns – it will also be integral if the EU is to meet the commitments under the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change; for the sake of people and the planet.

Echoing key findings of the IPES-Food report Towards a Common Food Policy for the EU, the letter to President von der Leyen calls for the creation of an integrated food policy (under the stewardship of a European Commission Vice-President) - essential to coordinate the efforts of the different departments. Following the results of the recent EU elections, the signatories highlighted the public will for an integrated food policy - moving the focus from sector-specific policies (e.g. agriculture, fisheries, health).

This call to the new Europe Commission President came just days after HCWH Europe and other NGOs addressed the European Parliament AGRI committee, asking for fundamental, green, and fair reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the new Parliament.

Agriculture does not exist in isolation - an inclusive, and coherent approach to agricultural policy is urgently needed

In the face of catastrophic climate change, agriculture is at the heart of the debate, both as a contributor to environmental degradation and as a sector on the frontline of its effects. Farmers alone cannot solve these crises, nor can these issues be solved without them, or without a large-scale shift to more environmentally friendly farming practices, supported by the CAP. A reformed, greener policy will improve the water we drink, the food we eat, the air we breathe, the landscapes and the biodiversity of our countryside, the welfare of farm animals, our climate, and the lives and well-being of people - both in Europe and beyond. 

Read the full letter here

Agriculture does not exist in isolation - a joined-up, inclusive, and coherent approach to agricultural policy is urgently needed. In both of these letters, HCWH Europe has stressed that the transition to sustainable food systems requires not only close collaboration between related sectors, but also between Parliament committees and departments of the European Commission. 

Healthcare facilities are already investing in nutritious, sustainable food and implementing healthy food practices for patients, staff, and visitors. Although the healthcare sector is driving the market, we need a policy framework that connects supply and demand under an integrated food system approach to support this transition. Only by connecting policy with practice will we ensure that sustainable food systems in Europe conserve and renew natural resources, advance social justice and animal welfare, build community wealth, and fulfil our present and future food and nutrition needs.