As COP28 prioritizes health and sustainability, food fortification stands out as a pivotal strategy to address climate change and its associated health repercussions.
Below we have highlighted our take on how food fortification practices directly align with COP28’s overarching objectives of fostering a healthier and more sustainable future.
Combating Micronutrient Deficiencies: A Pressing Need
Climate change disrupts food systems and agricultural practices, leading to reduced availability and access to nutrient-rich foods. Micronutrient deficiencies, such as iron deficiency anaemia, are particularly prevalent in regions vulnerable to climate change. These deficiencies have far-reaching consequences, affecting physical and cognitive development, immune function, and overall health and well-being.
Food Fortification: A Cost-Effective and Scalable Solution
By adding essential nutrients to staple foods, such as wheat flour, rice, and maize, fortification can significantly improve nutrient intake in a cost-effective and scalable manner addressing deficiencies across populations. This approach has proven successful in numerous countries, demonstrating its effectiveness in improving public health.
Sustainable Food Systems and Resilience
Fortification not only enhances nutritional value but also contributes to sustainable food systems. By fortifying locally produced foods, fortification reduces reliance on imported nutrient-rich foods. This promotes local agriculture, supports sustainable food production practices, reduces transportation emissions, and enhances food security.
Strengthening Immune Systems and Resilience to Climate Impacts
Micronutrient deficiencies weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infectious diseases. Fortifying staple foods with essential micronutrients, such as vitamin A, iron, and zinc, can strengthen immune systems, enhancing resilience to climate-related health risks, including vector-borne diseases and malnutrition.
Boosting Productivity and Economic Growth
Micronutrient deficiencies hinder cognitive development, physical growth, and labour productivity. Fortifying foods can improve cognitive function, physical performance, and overall health, leading to increased productivity and economic growth. This, in turn, enhances the capacity of individuals and communities to adapt and thrive in the face of climate change.
Advancing Equity and Social Justice
Micronutrient deficiencies disproportionately affect marginalized populations, particularly women and children. Fortification addresses these inequities by ensuring equitable access to essential micronutrients for all, promoting social justice and reducing health disparities. By championing food fortification, COP28 can contribute to a fairer and more equitable society.
Integrating food fortification into climate action strategies has immense potential to safeguard public health, strengthen food systems, and build resilience to climate change.