UAE Step Up Plans to Promote Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems to Benefit the Community and Protect the Environment at Expo’s World Food Day Celebration
A Letter of Intent (LOI) signed by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, Ministry of Health and Prevention, Emirates Nature-WWF, and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Dubai, UAE, October 16, 2021 – The UAE has taken a step forward in its efforts to promote healthy diets from sustainable food systems, as a means to benefit the community, preserve the environment and boost the national economy, with a letter of intent signed today by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, Ministry of Health and Prevention, Emirates Nature-WWF, and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The letter was signed at the UAE’s World Food Day celebration, which is being marked today at Expo 2020 Dubai, in the presence of Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, Dr. Hussain AlRand – Assistant undersecretary for Public Health in the Ministry of Health and Prevention; Laila Abdullatif, Director-General of Emirates Nature-WWF and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Transforming our diets and food systems globally, will reduce food-based greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30 per cent, wildlife loss by 46 per cent, agriculture land-use by at least 40 percent, and premature deaths by at least 20 per cent, according to WWF’s ‘Planet Based Diets’ report which highlights a new approach to making food choices that can help ensure a healthy planet as well as healthy people.
“Improving nutritional intake is a fundamental pillar of the National Food Security Strategy 2051,” H.E. Almheiri asserted. “It plays a critical role in strengthening the country’s entire food systems and provides a significant impact on community development and improving public health. Its economic benefits are numerous and cannot be understated.”
“This heightened interest in healthy diets from sustainable food systems reflects the UAE’s commitment to preserving the environment through sustainable and healthy food production patterns,” H.E. added. “The letter of intent that we signed today brings us another step closer to establishing an integrated model for nutrition – and that is our main area of focus as we move to expand our network of partners and collaborate with various relevant parties.”
For his part Dr. Hussain AlRand – Assistant undersecretary for Public Health from the Ministry of Health and Prevention said: “The letter of intent we signed today will enable us to examine all opportunities that support our efforts to promote public health through proper and healthy nutrition. A healthy diet is a solid approach to protect the community from the diseases that have emerged as a result of unhealthy eating patterns. We look forward to future cooperation with all relevant parties; we are committed to providing our technical expertise and vision to ensure all members of the community adopt healthy diets. This forms a solid foundation that we can build on to achieve all of our strategic plans at the Ministry of Health and Prevention.”
Laila Mostafa Abdullatif, Director General at Emirates Nature-WWF noted, “Failing to change our diets, is having dramatic impacts on our health and planetary well-being. Today’s Letter of Intent reflects our commitment collectively to promote the transition towards healthier diets and sustainable food systems, which is beneficial for both people and the planet. To address the global and local challenges, this urgent initiative is needed to transform our connection between food and the environment.”
[representative of FAO] said: “Improving nutrition, increasing agricultural productivity, raising the standard of living for residents of rural areas, and contributing to global economic growth are among our most important goals as an organisation. The sub-regional office of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation for the GCC and Yemen – as well as the FAO representative in the UAE – has a clear vision to improve and replace current dietary patterns with healthier and more sustainable systems. The letter of intent we signed today serves to ensure that our capabilities are employed in future projects to promote healthy nutrition in the UAE and the region.”
The letter of intent strives to understand current barriers and drivers to adopting healthy and sustainable diets. It aims to raise awareness and ensure the target audience understands the importance of healthy diets and sustainable food systems, in addition to identifying potential areas for change through community outreach, education and awareness, and encouraging measurable positive behaviour change.