A Note on Business, Climate and White House Action as the UN Meets in New York – Food Tank

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Greetings from New York City!

The UN General Assembly is meeting here this week along with Climate Week. People from all over the world, such as policy makers, activists, nonprofits and others, come together to explore what we need to do to solve the climate crisis.

I had the chance to attend an interesting dinner led by Wholechain, founded by Food Tank’s friends Mark Kaplan and Jason Berryhill. Great social entrepreneurs working to make our food and agriculture systems more transparent and therefore more traceable. We need companies to step on the plate – and these people are part of making that happen. I had the chance to talk to people from Akua Kelp, which makes delicious seaweed burgers, Grain4Grain, which produces recycled flour from used grain, and many other companies that make environmentally and socially sustainable products.

The private sector cannot be in this business just for profit. Many small and medium-sized companies are taking the lead in these matters: From their inception, they set out with mission statements that put the environment and social justice at the forefront. And then big companies, big companies are trying to catch up with these small companies by making commitments.

But here’s the thing to watch out for: When big companies embrace these commitments, “I hope these commitments we made by 2050 really come true!”

By 2050 it will be too late! We can’t just wish for a greener world in 30 years – we need commitments that policymakers, companies and most of us can take action on now. We need to make these commitments more urgent and real, whether it’s pushing for deforestation-free soy or beef, or using recycled materials from food production. We have to start thinking of this as the norm, not the exception.

The power of immediate action is what I was lucky enough to discuss with activist and “Orange Is The New Black” star Alysia Reiner on the Food Talk podcast this week. He’s a strong advocate for art, reducing food and plastic waste in movies and TV sets, using love, not fear, to inspire action, and more. I hope you will listen to our conversation by clicking here.

I’ll be in Washington DC next week for the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health. The White House last held such a conference in 1969, so this was long overdue. And as I understand it, the administration will announce a national strategy that sets out the steps to mobilize 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 about what we heard and saw at the conference next week.

I really hope the conference will be diverse – there is a wide variety of perspectives and views. And it’s not just academics and advocates, it’s experienced people who have been doing this core business for so long and truly know what communities want and need. And I sincerely hope that the administration listens to them so we can create a better national strategy.

What kinds of topics would you like to see discussed at the White House conference? Whose voice do you hope to hear? We’ll be there on behalf of Food Tankers like you around the world, so please chat with me at [email protected] and let me know how I can be your eyes and ears in DC.

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Photo courtesy of Patrick Tomasso, Unsplash

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