Purpose and principles
Aspects of order and progress: reflections of new and old architecture in Rio;
Catherine Giessler and Harriet Kuhnlein at rest; and Christ the Redeemer
Throughout the 15-21 May meeting in Rio de Janeiro, participants reflected on the purpose of Rio2012, on its theme and ambition, and on the principles that guide all the work being done and to be done before, during and after the congress. Inspiration was provided by the city itself, three aspects of which are pictured above: the combination of centuries-old buildings and glittering high-rise office blocks downtown; the peace and quiet of the botanical gardens; and always the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) overlooking the city.
Much of the discussion at the Rio meeting in effect affirmed the principles and purposes set out in the 2005 Giessen Declaration. Thus: 'The purpose of nutrition science is to contribute to a world in which present and future generations fulfil their human potential, live in the best of health, and develop, sustain and enjoy an increasingly diverse human, living and physical environment. Nutrition science should be the basis for food and nutrition policies. These should be designed to identify, create, conserve and protect rational, sustainable and equitable communal, national and global food systems, in order to sustain the health, well-being and integrity of humankind and also that of the living and physical worlds'
The following document is a revision of the draft previously published on our site.
The theme of the Rio2012 congress is World Nutrition: Knowledge, Policy, Action. This affirms that different types of knowledge, including evidence derived from conventional scientific investigations and also from traditional and other sources, are needed to ensure rational policies and effective actions. Further, knowledge in itself is not enough to face the challenges that now confront public health nutrition. Policy strategies need to be implemented, evaluated, and thus continually strengthened. This cyclical process explains the spiral design that is the symbol of the congress.
Rio2012 will be one of the great events of this decade in Rio de Janeiro. These also include the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016.
The congress will discuss and debate the vast public health nutrition challenges and crises that now confront those in power and policy-makers in multinational bodies, civil society and public interest organisations, national governments, and industry, as well as relevant professional bodies, the academic community, field workers and community groups. It will go further, and will discuss, affirm and agree statements designed to be carried forward after the congress.
The congress will address the basic and underlying determinants of food systems and dietary patterns, and thus of disease, health and well-being, as well as their immediate causes. It will also take into account the social, economic, political and environmental as well as the biological determinants of nutrition and health.
- Scope. Public health nutrition is an integral part of public health, as well as being a biochemical discipline. As stated in The Giessen Declaration, it needs to be based on ethical and also evolutionary, ecological, and equitable principles, and to take history and tradition into account. Its dimensions are social (including political and cultural), economic, and environmental, as well as biological and behavioural.
- Collaboration. All relevant actors need to work together, and agree rational policies in the public interest, designed as the basis for effective actions. Rio2012 will be an occasion for debate and discussion, and also for agreements to be carried forward, rather than a meeting at which experts speak at audiences. This is reflected throughout in the structure and nature of the congress programme.
- Interaction. There will be a place at the congress for podiums and lecterns. But all formal presentations will include and protect substantial time reserved for interactive contributions and discussion, and many sessions will be interactive throughout. The congress will include simultaneous translations in English and Portuguese, and also the facility for interactive remote access to the plenary sessions.
- Independence. The congress is being funded by registration fees, government and other public bodies, and private companies with no commercial or other interest in food and nutrition. It is already supported by the Brazilian federal government and various government agencies, the city of Rio de Janeiro and its agencies, and by the State University of Rio de Janeiro, the host of the congress.
- Empowerment. The congress is committed to empower future leaders in the profession of public health nutrition, and also to recognise and promote community and other grass-roots workers. It will ensure that students and young professionals, and also community workers, are fully involved in its programme, as they already are engaged in its planning. This process is also designed to be amplified after the congress is concluded.
Rio2012 is designed to be a new beginning for public health nutrition, to make it fit to face the challenges of this century. These include the linked finance, fuel and food crises, economic globalisation, population increases, climate change, and worsening inequity. The climax of the congress will be a series of agreed statements, and the Rio Declaration on the nature, purpose and scope of public health nutrition, designed to be made the basis of rational policies and effective programmes. These documents will guide work to be progressed after the congress until success is achieved.