Sharon Natoli is my guest today on Inside Ideas. An international expert on communicating food systems change, Sharon is an advisor to local and global businesses in the sector that are focused on transitioning to sustainable business models.
For Sharon, the actions of the food sector will heavily determine the effectiveness of the global fight against climate change.
“My area of expertise is in the food sector, and food is such a big lever that we can use to drive change,” Sharon said. “Which gives me optimism because everybody eats and we eat three times a day, that’s 1000 meals over a year and that’s an opportunity, each time we eat, to put our dollars where our values are but also to be able to raise our consciousness about doing that; and to link that to things like the bush fires and the state of our climate and to put the power into the hands of individuals to make a difference.”
I think we have a lot of ideas that are trapped in people’s minds that, with the right conditions and internal resources to speak up, would be helpful.
The Australian beliefs her own country must do more to use its wealth and power to inspire a greater uptake and availability of climate-friendly diets.
“Australia has a long way to go, we’re very much behind in many ways when it comes to climate change action, policies, and from a dietary perspective as well. Out of the G20 we have the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions from our diet, so we have a long way to go in terms of action and what needs to be done here.”
The big story this year for food will be written at the UN Food Systems Summit in New York next month. International leaders, citizens and businesses attending the event will lay out their strategies and commitments for accelerating ‘positive changes to the world’s food systems’. Sharon hopes it will be a moment where a diverse range of voices and opinions will be heard.
On the summit, she said: “I think bringing people together is one thing but providing them with the opportunity to speak up and to voice what’s on their mind and to contribute their ideas is another thing. When we get together often the conversation can be dominated by a couple of people. You might have eight or 10 people around the table but you might only have two or three of them talking. So I’m evolving my next theme looking at how do we give people the internal resources to speak up, because we know that even though the environment may feel safe, half the people aren’t going to speak up anyway, so I think we have a lot of ideas that are trapped in people’s minds that, with the right conditions and internal resources to speak up, would be helpful.”
Sharon added: “So yes, bring people to the table, but give them the space to speak.”
Sharon is the author and co-author of four books, and her background in food, nutrition and counselling provides her with an indepth understanding of the nuances of human behaviour. In her book: Food For A Better Future: A new direction for the global business of food, she champions a new approach for food marketing and innovation, one that can make businesses in the sector relevant in the transition to a resilient future.
And with the world more engaged than ever in talking about the impact food choices are going to have on the future health prospects of the planet and its citizens, and with the UN Food Systems Summit on the horizon, it is great to have Sharon on the show to talk about the types of communication ecosystems and strategies that will be needed to bring about meaningful change.