UN Food Systems Summit: Finland as a trailblazer as provider of school meals

The UN Food Systems Summit will be held virtually on 23 September during the UN General Assembly in New York. Finland’s representative at the meeting will be President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö. Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari, in his role as the World Food Programme’s School Meals Champion, will speak at the event on school meals.

The meeting will discuss the importance of food systems, that is, the impact of the production, processing, trade and consumption of food and of their operating environments on the achievement of all of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In recent years, global hunger has been on the increase, and the COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated the situation. Food is not equally available and affordable. Food systems suffer from climate change but, at the same time, the current systems are accelerating it. 


The Food Systems Summit is expected to attract political attention, commitments and action plans that could provide guidelines for the global reform of food systems. The aim is to ensure food security and good nutrition for all and to guarantee work and livelihoods for operators in the sector in an environmentally sustainable manner. 


Finland places particular emphasis on school meals, which is an effective way to improve food security. At the meeting, Finland will announce a donation of EUR 5 million to the WFP’s school feeding programme.


“Finland has provided free school meals for a longer time than any other country, and this model is promoted also as part of development cooperation. School meals support health and learning and often open up opportunities for girls to go to school,” Minister Skinnari says.


As part of the preparations for the meeting, Finland has held a dialogue on food systems both nationally and, in its role as the Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2021, with the Nordic countries. Finland is one of the first countries to submit a report on its national action plan to strengthen the sustainability of food systems. 

Finland has emphasised a comprehensive approach to food system issues. Food, water, forests and energy form a package that reminds us of the inseparable connection between natural resources and food security. The One Health approach, on the other hand, highlights the connection between human, animal, plant and environmental health. In the runup to the meeting, Finland has also presented its innovations, including one on soil carbon sequestration.

A live webcast of the conference will be available on the United Nations website.(Link to another website.)

Read more about Finnish school meals on the website of Education Finland.(Link to another website.)


Inquiries:


Ministry for Foreign Affairs: Sanna-Liisa Taivalmaa, Senior Adviser on Development Policy, tel. +358 50 526 5630, firstname.lastname@formin.fi


Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry: Aulikki Hulmi, Director of International Affairs, tel. +358 50 4750066, etunimi.sukunimi@mmm.fi