UN Food Systems Summit +2 in Rome: Finland advocates expanding school feeding to support the learning and development of children and young people
The first stocktaking meeting of the UN Food Systems Summit held two years ago takes place in Rome on 24–26 July. Finland highlights its experiences as a frontrunner in providing school meals.
“At the meeting, Finland will focus on the key role which free school meals play in societal development along with the nutrition of children and young people. School meals promote general wellbeing, equality, economic development and social stability. Finland has gained experience of this,” says Jaana Husu-Kallio, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, who leads the Finnish delegation. Finland has provided free school meals since the 1940s.
Conflicts, economic shocks and climate change have created a global food crisis. The situation has been exacerbated by Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine, the latest setback being Russia's unilateral withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal. Finland is concerned about growing food insecurity and considers that there is a great need in the world for solutions that strengthen food systems. The war of aggression and price rises have revealed weaknesses in national food systems.
At the Rome stocktaking meeting, participants will review progress towards sustainable food systems, exchange information on successful reforms and challenges, and raise awareness among policy makers on the role of food systems in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Finland is consistently working to improve the sustainability of its national food system with the aim of striking a balance between people's wellbeing, economy and the environment, and is ready to share its experiences and good practices.
Finland supports sustainable food systems in developing countries and, based on the Finnish experiences, offers expertise for solving problems in this area. Finland also uses humanitarian assistance to improve food security and to support especially the most vulnerable people.
The global School Meals Coalition, founded on the initiative of Finland and the UN World Food Programme (WFP), promotes global access to school meals and the funding for them.
“The Coalition's goal is for all children to have access to healthy and nutritious school meals by 2030. Our initiative has attracted a lot of response: so far, the Coalition has been joined by 84 countries and 95 organisations and other actors,” says Juha Savolainen, Deputy Director General of the Department for Development Policy at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, who is attending the stocktaking meeting in Rome.
The Coalition is co-chaired by Finland and France.
Some 2,000 delegates from 170 countries, 20 heads of state and over a 100 ministers are expected to attend the stocktaking meeting. The event has also attracted around 500 private sector actors, food producers, trade and industry representatives, researchers and civil society organisations. The meeting will be opened by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
UNFFS+2 Stocktaking Moment: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry: Aulikki Hulmi, Director of International Affairs, +358 50 475 0066
School Meals Coalition: Ministry for Foreign Affairs: Juha Savolainen, Deputy Director General, +358 295 351 508