Your Plate. Our Planet – The Future of Food

This is a day I have wanted to write about all along, but I didn’t have the time. So may I introduce – with a big fat delay: the Nobel Week Dialogue in Stockholm.

The event is held every year within the scope of the Nobel price, this particular one was on 9 December 2016. It was the first time I visited this dialogue, which aims to bring together science and society. A good timing, I think, as the topic “The Future of Food” was particularly interesting. There were numerous outstanding and renowned experts – among them six Nobel laureates – talking on the issue.

Together with two friends I had signed up for the event weeks in advance, since the number of visitors is limited, of course, and the free tickets “sold” like hot cakes. So on the 9th we took an early train to Stockholm for a fabulous experience.

During the introduction (you could comment or ask questions live using your smartphone), I particularly favored Johan Rockström’s talk. The director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre underlined the importance of scientifically correct positioning of food. He reminded that food production and agriculture are the largest contributors to climate change through high emissions of greenhouse gases, the largest fresh water and land use, as well as a causing major biodiversity loss. He sees the need for a global transition towards a more sustainable food mainstream, which internalizes all externalities (the “real planetary costs”).

Another very impressive person throughout the whole day was Muhammad Yunus. The 2006 Peace Laureate promoted his ideas of social entrepreneurship in different contexts. I have been following up on these issues a bit before, after we had talked about Not-For-Profit businesses in the CEMUS course and I am actually really excited about this problem solving approach. Yunus suggested amusedly that instead of letting banks decide if people are creditworthy, we should ask if the banks are “people worthy”. It was a real pleasure to listen to him.

Many, many issues around food, like the influence of large food corporations, social eating habits, the digitalization of agriculture, initiatives to reduce food waste, etc. were addressed that day. I was a little disappointed about the afternoon panels. We decided to join a panel discussion about whether we can continue to eat meat and one on what it would take to build a sustainable food system. Unfortunately, both questions weren’t really answered. Most of the meat discussion revolved around different production methods and how we can maintain today’s meat consumption habits. Little was said about the possibility of reducing the amount of meat we eat instead.

The day was rounded off more relaxed with a reading by Patti Smith and a talk on creativity and inspiration with the Nobel laureates. Overall it was an amazing experience. Though I didn’t receive the easy answers I was hoping for (but rather many more questions – as always) it was so fun and inspiring.

If you ever have the possibility to be in Stockholm at the right time and you want to be inspired, I can really recommend joining this dialogue.

I wish you all a nice winter weekend!


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