The food system is a determinant of health. In alignment with current work on food systems and resiliency, HIPHI is leading a global agenda-setting initiative for food systems transformation, with a specific focus on health through a series of public discussions for Hawaiʻi and for island nations, states and communities from around the world.

The United Nations’ Secretary-General António Gutierres will convene a Food Systems Summit as part of the Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The Summit will launch bold new actions to deliver progress on all 17 SDGs, each of which relies to some degree on healthier, more sustainable, and equitable food systems. This summit is slated for September of this year in New York. In preparation for this summit, Hawai‘i Public Health Institute (HIPHI) in collaboration with the City and County of Honolulu Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resilience, and  Hawaiʻi Pacific University – Department of Public Health have joined together to host a series of events in support of the UNFSS.

To introduce the Summit to the Hawaiʻi community there will be a round table discussion on March 31 (Wednesday 3:30-5:00 PM HST) entitled, “Our health, our food systems, our islands, our people”.  This activity seeks to highlight the linkages between food systems transformation and health in Hawaiʻi.  Speakers will reflect on a 10-year, future-oriented vision: Local food is the healthy, culturally appropriate, accessible and affordable choice for Hawaiʻi communities as part of a post-pandemic and emergency resilient economic development strategy that results in the revitalization of agriculture and aquaculture resources, environmental sustainability, climate adaptability, equity and better health outcomes for all and for future generations in all islands of Hawai‘i. Participants interested in the March 31 dialogue on the linkages between food systems, health equity, social determinants of health, and forward-thinking engagement can register here: http://bit.ly/roundtableMarch31  (space is limited).

Subsequently, there will be two international independent dialogues that recognize how island states, nations and communities around the world are developing creative, innovative, and sustainable solutions and approaches to achieving food security and better health. This despite common challenges such as isolation, import-dependence, and climate threats.  This independent dialogue series hosted in Hawaiʻi focuses on the important role of culture, diversity, and identity in food systems transformation toward better health outcomes. When local production and consumption of food is increased as a key public health strategy: “food as medicine” in the face of  COVID-19, the epidemic of non-communicable diseases (including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and chronic malnutrition affecting millions who live in island settings) is envisioned as a pathway for integration of actions toward achieving the  Sustainable Development Goals in 10 years.

The independent dialogues are:

April 23 (Friday 3:00-6:00 PM HST)
Healthier Islands through Sustainable Food Systems – 1: Honoring Culture, Diversity and Identity

Honoring culturally-appropriate, diverse and inclusive approaches to transformation from import-dependent food systems in islands toward self-sufficient, climate-resilient, and equity-enhancing island food systems that emphasize the importance of community-based food security interventions and advocating for food self-sufficiency within every island.

May 21 (Friday 3:00-6:00 PM HST)
Healthier Islands through Sustainable Food Systems – 2: Food as Medicine

‘Food as medicine’, as a core strategy for healthier islands through sustainable food systems is a holistic approach to the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases like diabetes and risk factors like hypertension and obesity – as environmental modifications focus on food as a solution and not a cause of ill-health by ensuring that all people in all islands have access to healthier, affordable and locally produced and gathered food from sustainable resources.

 For more information contact Dr. Susan Mercado, Director for Food Systems and Resiliency, at susan@hiphi.org or visit https://www.un.org/en/food-systems-summit/dialogues/independent.