Advice for Food Systems Governance Actors to Decide Whether and How to Engage With the Agri-Food and Beverage Industry to Address Malnutrition Within the Context of Healthy and Sustainable Food Systems; Comment on “Challenges to Establish Effective Public-Private Partnerships to Address Malnutrition in All Its Forms”

Document Type : Commentary


Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, USA


The effectiveness of public-private partnerships (PPPs) to address malnutrition will depend on the issue, engagement purpose, policy context and actors’ interactions. This commentary offers advice for governments, United Nations (UN) and civil society organizations to decide whether and how to engage with industry actors to improve diets for populations. First, food systems governance actors must acknowledge and reconcile competing visions, harmonize numerous corporate-engagement principles, and support a shared narrative to motivate collective actions toward healthy sustainable diets. Second, food systems governance actors have tools to guide engagement through many alliances, networks, coalitions and multi-stakeholder platforms with different levels of risk and trust. Third, food systems governance actors must prioritize accountability by setting corporate-performance threshold scores to justify private-sector engagement; evaluating engagement processes, outcomes and consequences; using incentives, financial penalties and social media advocacy to accelerate time-bound changes; and revoking UN consultative status for corporate actors who undermine healthy people and planet.


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