Vivica Kraak and the all-stars (above left), typical participants (right), energy in the streets (below left), Shiriki Kumanyika, Chrisa Arcan shopping (right)
The Rio2012 team report: Our amazing conference is over and, as we are all now reminding ourselves, its end is the beginning of a new age for nutrition and public health. First though you will want to know who are in the all-star picture (above left), taken in the Novo Mundo hotel where the speakers were lodged. Standing are Urban Jonsson, Walter Willett, Marion Nestle, Enrique Jacoby, Philip James, Tim Lobstein, Barbara Burlingame, Boyd Swinburn, Simon Capewell, Gary Sacks. Sitting (or crouching) are Claudio Schuftan, Barry Popkin, Vivica Kraak, Patti Rundall, Modi Mwatsama, and Ina Verzivolli. You see why this picture is of Vivica, Patti and the All-Stars.
The next picture (above right) gives a sense of the profile of Rio2012 participants, mostly women, mostly young. Next (below right) Shiriki Kumanyika and Chrisa Arcan are having a good time at the Ipanema artisan fair before the conferences started. Finally (below left) is a sense of Rio's energy: street graffiti in Rocinha, Rio's biggest favela with a population maybe of 250,000.
For comments on Rio2012, please access this month's columns. Reggie Annan, seen speaking below at the final plenary session, says: 'The spiral theme image for Rio2012 (shown above) signifies the conference theme: knowledge – policy – action, and how these are linked. We aim to be more action oriented. However, policies and actions are informed by knowledge and evidence and these three are interlinked. The goal of the conference has been to apply our current knowledge and evidence of the science of nutrition to influence policies and actions which will make a difference. The programme was structured to enable us to achieve this'.
Rio2012 final plenary session. Reggie Annan speaks (above). Marion Nestle, Philip James and Renato Maluf, and all the conference participants, listen
Reggie Annan adds: 'During the conference, the Association was itself seen as a major player. Our website and our journal World Nutrition should continue to be a platform for sharing our experiences and evidence, and our ideas about how to deal with the issues and challenges that face us all. We are an independent global body, with no vested interests. We also can be a combined think-tank and campaigning organisation. Internationally, nationally and at local and family levels, we need to build alliances with other organisations working for example on food security and on other social, political and environmental issues'.
Geoffrey Cannon, in his column this month, says: 'For me, Rio2012 began with a challenge, from Michael Latham, David Sanders and Arne Oshaug, at different times. They, I and others have over the years been standing up at international nutrition conferences and denouncing the gross overt and covert presence of conflicted industry, notably the transnational corporations collectively known as Big Snack'.
Make the venue a university and engage the professors and students, said Michael Latham. So we did. Here is just one section of the opening plenary
Geoffrey Cannon adds: 'So what we have dreamed of down the years, has been the creation of an independent conference, entirely free of "support" from conflicted industry, that would be a success in itself and also a beacon for other conference organisers. No need to hold such a meeting in fancy hotels or commercial conference centres. Make the venue a university. Engage its governing body and its relevant heads of department, teaching staff, and students. Position the conference in the environment most likely to create positive energy and enthusiasm. Encourage speakers to pay their own way.
'That's what Inês Rugani, now head of the department of nutrition at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, with all her professional and volunteer colleagues and assistants, has done. You get a glimpse of the result for Rio2012 in the picture above. This shows just one section of the 1,800 participants from over 50 countries, during the opening plenary sessions. The great hall was chocabloc. Most participants were obviously early in their careers, with an average age of around 30-35; and maybe three-quarters were women. And the bottom line is that Rio2012 has made a substantial surplus. Yes, some of this is coming to the Association, and among other requirements will be used to help fund this website and World Nutrition'.
Claudio Schuftan, in his column this month, says: 'After Rio 2012, here are the issues our association absolutely needs to ponder. We had 1,800 participants. Would I be happy if 300 of them would actively join our ranks, not necessarily as Association members, but as public health nutrition activists? You bet! Our conference certainly exposed newcomers to the myriad challenges of now and of the future – especially for younger participants who need to be moved into meaningful action.
'In all honesty, I would be happy with 150; that would already make a difference. In any case, the Association has added responsibilities after Rio. These include the need to engage new and old converts to bring good nutrition and health to the millions that do not have it. In session after session, it was made plenty clear that the hurdles and strategic enemies to overcome are stupendous and powerful. Rio2012 was a good start'.
Geoffrey Cannon adds: This month we publish the introduction to the Rio2012 Declaration. It is from the conference as a whole. It reflects the commitment implied by our rallying call: Rio2012. What next. No question mark, notice. Here is an extract from the Declaration's introduction.
'The achievements of scientific work in the fields of public health and of nutrition are immense. This said, knowledge goes beyond the results of scientific and other investigations. Knowledge is or should be based on specified ethical principles. It should respect long-standing and tested practice. It must also take into account emerging or ongoing scenarios. In our field these now include economic globalisation, widening inequities between and within countries, climate change, and the linked fuel, finance and food crises…
'Current gross economic, social and political inequities have structural causes. Some of the major challenges are as follows. Continued rapid increases in national populations. Rapid increase in rates of obesity and chronic diseases, with persistence of nutritional deficiencies and infections especially of childhood. The displacement of breastfeeding and long-established food systems by branded commercial products. Deterioration of public health services. The invalidation of women as leaders and family members. Chaotic rises and fluctuations in staple food prices. Overuse and abuse of natural resources.
'Effective action requires sustained and strengthened mobilisation of civil society, working with all actors whose duty is to work in the public interest. Actors include organised civil society, relevant professional groups, foundations and other funders, government at all levels from local to national, relevant international agencies, industry, the media, employers, and people as citizens and family members as well as individuals'.
And so, finally: 'We urge all those addressed here to commit to the principles and actions in this Rio2012 Declaration, taking their own capacity and circumstances into account. Our call to action is addressed first to the World Public Health Nutrition (the Association), and the Brazilian Association for Collective Health (Abrasco), the partners in Rio2012'.