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Illustration: Nathalie Lees

Healthy Diets from Sustainable Production: Indonesia

Transitioning towards healthy diets from sustainable production could provide relief from some of the most pressing environmental and public health challenges Indonesia faces. This paper outlines some of the steps that could help deliver this transformation in Indonesia.  

Research Fellow, Energy, Environment and Resources

Former Research Analyst

Director of Policy, EAT

24 Jan 2019  •  30 min read

Research Fellow, Energy, Environment and Resources

Former Research Analyst

Director of Policy, EAT

Current trends in the global food system are placing increased pressure on the environment, driving deforestation and biodiversity loss and increasing greenhouse gas emissions and freshwater use. At the same time, shifts in diets pose a significant public health challenge. 1.9 billion adults are overweight or obese while around 2 billion people still suffer from micronutrient deficiencies.

Yet, in reality, the ‘food system’ is not a coherent whole, but a complex coming-together of different food systems, each shaped by their context. It is only through recognizing the diversity of geographies, cultures, politics and economics that food systems can be transformed to safeguard sustainable food production and healthy diets now and in the future.

Indonesia, for example, is a country spread across over 17,000 islands with a population exceeding a quarter of a billion people. Its food system is not only different from its neighbours, but itself is made up of multiple unique, but overlapping, systems. Although global food trends have exacerbated health and environmental challenges within the country, the components to ensure an ambitious food strategy that recognises local and regional difference already exists. 

This paper, with a foreword from Indonesia’s Minister of Health, Nila Moeloek, lays out priorities for action to grasp the window of opportunity arising between now and 2020, as Indonesia embarks on the final five-year tranche of its National Long-Term Development Plan. It argues that the moment is ripe for a bold new vision for a sustainable food system that supports healthy diets for all in Indonesia. In choosing to act now, Indonesia could lay the foundations for a more resilient and equitable development pathway that prioritizes improved public health while at the same time safeguarding some of the world’s most important ecosystems for future generations.

This marks the first of what the Hoffmann Centre for Sustainable Resource Economy intends will be many efforts to highlight the role of diets in tackling multiple health and dietary requirements through the Leaders for Tomorrow’s Diet initiative – co-convened by the Hoffmann Centre for Sustainable Resource Economy and EAT. The ground-breaking work of the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health has delivered the first global scientific targets based on environmental and health boundary conditions that will be critical to achieving healthy and sustainable food systems and the Leaders for Tomorrow’s Diet initiative will build on this work. It will translate its findings into an action agenda that puts dietary shift at the heart of food system transformation. By identifying policy tools and local and national champions, as well as supporting narratives in selected countries, the initiative will identify strategies to shift diets onto healthier and more sustainable pathways.

This paper, supported by Children's Investment Fund Foundation, is the product of a collaboration between the Hoffmann Centre for Sustainable Resource Economy at Chatham House, EAT, the Human Nutrition Research Centre at the University of Indonesia and the Indonesian Ministry of Health.

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