A Note on Business, Climate and White House Actions During the United Nations Meeting in New York – Food Tank

A Note on Business, Climate and White House Actions During the United Nations Meeting in New York – Food Tank

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Greetings from New York City!

The United Nations General Assembly meets here this week along with Climate Week. People from all over the world come together – policymakers, activists, nonprofits, and many more – to delve deeper into what we need to do to solve the climate crisis.

I had the opportunity to have a fun dinner led by Wholechain, founded by Food Tank friends Mark Kaplan and Jason Berryhill. They are wonderful social entrepreneurs working to make our food and agricultural systems more transparent and therefore more traceable. We need companies to be able to operate – and these people are part of making that happen. I’ve had the opportunity to speak to people from companies like Akua Kelp, which makes delicious kelp burgers, Grain4Grain, which produces recycled flour from spent grain, and many others who make products that are environmentally and socially sustainable.

The private sector cannot be in it just for profit. Many small and medium-sized businesses are leading the way on these issues: From the day they were launched, they have started with important statements that put the environment and social justice first. Hence it is the big companies, the big companies, that are trying to catch up with these smaller companies by putting the obligations in place.

But here’s what we need to pay attention to: I hope that when big companies embrace these commitments, it’s not just greenwashing—or wanting to conserve the environment, by saying, “I hope these 2050 commitments come to fruition!”

It will be too late by 2050! We simply cannot wish for a greener world in 30 years – we need commitments that policymakers, companies, and many of us can act on now. We have to make these commitments more urgent and realistic, whether it’s pushing toward deforestation-free soy or beef, or whether it’s using recycled ingredients from food manufacturing. We need to start thinking of this as the rule, not the exception.

The power of Urgent Action is what I was fortunate to discuss with activist and “Orange Is The New Black” star Alicia Rayner on this week’s Food Talk podcast. She is a strong advocate for the arts, for reducing food and plastic waste in film and television, for using love — not fear — to inspire movement, and more. I really hope you listen to our conversation click here.

Next week, I will be in Washington, DC, for the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. The last time the White House held this type of conference was in 1969, so it was long overdue. From what I understand, the administration will announce a national strategy outlining steps to stimulate the public and private sectors to address the links between food and hunger, nutrition and health. So stay tuned: I’ll have more to say next week about what we hear and see at the conference.

I really hope that the conference will be diverse – and that there will be a wide range of viewpoints and opinions. And it’s not just academics and advocates, but people with live experience who have been doing this essential work for a long time and really know what communities want and need. And I sincerely hope that the administration will listen to them, so that we can build a better national strategy.

What kinds of topics would you like to be discussed at the White House conference? Whom do you hope to hear? We will be there on behalf of all food carriers like you around the world, so please chat with me at danielle@foodtank.com and tell me how I can be your eyes and ears on the ground in DC.

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Image courtesy of Patrick Tommaso, Unsplash

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