Is it sugar or is it the system? Exploring pathways for sustainable food system transitions
On the 20th of February 2020, The George Institute for Global Heath’s thought leadership program held a forum discussion to explore the Australian sugar system.
In Australia much of the debate around sugar to date has focussed on a sugar tax, a concept which is often polarising and where we haven’t seen much progress. It could also be argued that it is only a small part of a bigger problem. With this in mind, The George Institute commissioned a report, “Sugar in Australia: A Food System Approach. Competing Issues, Diverse Voices, and Rethinking Pathways to a Sustainable Transition”, with the objective of broadening the debate through investigating different sides of sugar in Australia from a food systems-perspective.
The forum discussion focused on:
- How to take a food systems approach to deal with the competing issues in the system;
- Rethinking pathways to a sustainable transition while; and
- Facilitating diverse voices to play a role in any shift that may occur.
Professor Bruce Neal, Executive Director, The George Institute for Global Health Australia, opened up the event by acknowledging the importance of a whole of system approach.
“The range of stakeholders in the room is a demonstration of the interest in this topic and hopefully the start of a thoughtful discussion about the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder in this process”
Vanessa Clarkson the author of the report “Sugar in Australia: A Food System Approach” then followed by establishing the history of the sugar industry in Australia and how it is deeply rooted in colonialism and the development of the farming industry.
A panel discussion followed, featuring the perspectives Leonie Williamson from Lowitja Institute, Imogen Zethoven AO Campaign Director at Australian Marine Conservation Society as well as Prof Neal and Vanessa Clarkson.