Healthy eating. During the month of April, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) presented two guides designed to steer parliamentarians in their actions to promote healthy nutrition. The first report was presented to the Latin American Parliament (PARLATINO) and the second together with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). Both documents recommend parliamentarians legislate on the entire food supply chain by promoting measures to ensure access to healthier food. Although the guidelines are non-binding, the authors hope that these priorities will be included in the regulatory debates being promoted by national legislatures when it comes to regulating the food sector.
The documents argue that parliamentarians and advisors play a key role because of their strategic position, whether by promoting public investment in the agricultural sector, establishing the conditions for the promotion of private investment, or fostering dialogue between different stakeholders. Both documents provide guidance on five areas in which legislators can take concrete actions, such as representation, budget, oversight and legislation. Within the latter, the second report mentions the identification of legal gaps, the promotion of a national framework law and a multisectoral plan on nutrition, the promotion of sectoral laws on healthy diets, and the exchange of regional information on good practices.
The two reports also emphasize the importance of the food supply chain, which encompasses the full range of actors and their interrelated activities that add social, cultural and economic value to the production, aggregation, processing, distribution, labeling, marketing, consumption and disposal of food products. In view of this, FAO considers it essential to promote measures that regulate the sector from a holistic perspective.
Both FAO documents are intended to offer guidelines and advice on good practices and recommendations for members of Legislative Branches, whom they see as “agents of change”. In this way, it seeks to support the adoption of measures on responsible agricultural investment and the prioritization of nutrition for the transformation towards more sustainable food systems. The first report even provides advocacy and communication advice for legislators. Although not binding, FAO hopes that this advice will be taken up by parliamentarians in the region to promote policies and build strong alliances around sustainable food systems.