Gastrocooperation: new alliances to eat sustainably

Once a cook told me how they would support the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development if they are not even mentioned. “Well, just as they manage to add an ingredient to a recipe and create something new,” he confirmed, knowing that since 2016, the United Nations General Assembly had designated June 18 as Sustainable Gastronomy Day. To make visible the contribution of this sector to agricultural production, fishing, food security, nutrition, energy use and climate change mitigation, this day is invited to celebrate the Member States, the agencies of the United Nations and other international and regional organizations, to civil society, including NGOs and individuals.

But today, in times of world hunger crisis, something more is needed than just celebrating a day. The latest edition of Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC 2022) It forecasts that around 193 million people will be acutely food insecure this year and in need of urgent assistance in 53 territories, a figure that has increased by 80% since 2016, in at least 48 countries. Although the most visible side of gastronomy has been the private sector –the media chefs, street and market ventures, restaurants or culinary fairs, among others–, there is a turn towards sustainability that shows that the people behind the stoves are also leaders of change.

In crisis contexts, the organization World Central Kitchen, and its leader, the famous chef José Andrés, Princess of Asturias Award for Concord 2021, arrive with hot food before others. Since 2020, the Michelin Guide delivers the green stars, a specific category to recognize restaurants for their relationship with the environment. Another seal, Efficient and sustainable kitchen, arises from the collaboration of Repsol and Aenor to promote the responsible use of energy sources in gastronomy. The Basque Culinary World Prize has been a pioneer in recognizing chefs with transformative initiatives. The World’s Best 50 Restaurants have incorporated the distinction Champions of Change to recognize young professionals with an impact in their localities.

Other new collaboration instruments are in the works: BBVA and Celler de Can Roca implement the Sustainable Gastronomy Program to promote the transition of the sector towards more sustainable practices. In Chile, the Gastronomic Laboratoryfrom the Ministry of Education and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has improved the quality of school cafeterias, combating obesity and food waste, from the approach of “eat well” as a right.

It is time for gastrocooperation: that the strategic alliances of all the actors in gastronomy be activated in a systemic way to make the sector’s place in the 2030 Agenda more visible

Although the trend is to highlight the transforming role of gastronomy, one more step is urgent: ensuring that public policies aimed at the sector also change at the pace of the avant-garde. For this, it is not enough what can be done from a grandstand foodies, an outstanding restaurant, a gourmet market, a recognized brand or a prestigious cooking school. It’s time for the gastrocooperation: that the strategic alliances of all the actors in gastronomy be activated in a systemic way to make the sector’s place in the 2030 Agenda more visible. This would open the way to more complex and better coordinated cooperation actions, based on intersectoral work, where more people and institutions would add their experiences and resources to seek effectively sustainable responses.

The first region in the world to take steps in this regard seems to be Latin America, with the Ibero-American Food and Gastronomy Plan (PIGA_2030), promoted by the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB) and approved by consensus by the authorities of 22 countries. The result of the collaboration of public and private sectors, local governments, civil society and international cooperation, it is a route to mobilize the potential of gastronomy in the transformation of food systems with positive impacts on people, the planet, prosperity , peace and alliances.

It gastronomy as a prefix to define trends in the sector is not new: the gastrodiplomacy It has been promoted by countries such as Thailand, Mexico and Peru to influence through its flavors. In Spain, a portal called gastronomy follows the economic-business trends of what they call the gastro sector. In Colombia, the gastrowomen they have made female talent visible in a world of men in charge. What does seem new is the consensus that the gastrocooperation It would make it easier for these and other actors to join so that gastronomy is one of those new instruments that are so much needed to accelerate compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals, by cooking.

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Gastrocooperation: new alliances to eat sustainably