By Gregory Miller, PhD, chief science officer, National Dairy Council
The ability to nourish people amidst unprecedented population growth is a universal challenge. The US dairy community is committed to being part of the solution. The population is projected to grow by one-third over the next 30 years, requiring a dramatic increase in food — in the face of fewer natural resources. And it goes beyond more food, to more nutritious foods that are diverse, culturally appropriate and affordable.
The health of future generations is linked to the health of our planet, so sustainable diets must be at the core of the global response. Considerations to address include shifting food demands, population growth, longer lifespans, changing climate, growing urbanization and nourishing more people with fewer resources.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 goals to help transform lives around the world, while fostering environmental stewardship. The SDG’s prioritize food and agriculture as key levers of action to help support people, planet, prosperity, partnerships and peace. Dairy can help address this through the following:
People - Dairy foods and ingredients help nourish people throughout their lives around the world, contributing to food and nutrition security, helping alleviate some of the issues of global malnutrition.
Milk supplies essential nutrients, including high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals required for appropriate growth and development throughout childhood.
Consumption of high quality dairy proteins – including whey proteins and milk powders – are linked to better markers of growth among malnourished children (noted as higher quality in comparison to some other protein sources).
Milk and milk products provide both protein and calcium as well as 7 other essential nutrients as an economical source of nutrition throughout the lifespan.
Dairy foods are associated with bone health, especially among children and adolescents. Healthy eating patterns, which include dairy foods, are linked to reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and lower blood pressure in adults.
Planet - Dairy’s ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship helps address the SDGs.
Prosperity - Strengthening global dairy communities can empower prosperous and fulfilling lives. About 1 billion people globally have livelihoods connected to dairy and about 37 million dairy farms are led by women globally.
Peace - Conflict can exacerbate food insecurity and sustainable food systems go hand-in-hand with peaceful societies. Dairy can be a key contributor to employment and global food security. In doing so, it can help play an important role in supporting resilient, nourished communities.
Partnerships - Cooperatives and collaboration are at the heart of the dairy community. With global collaboration, the dairy community is working together to understand the complex issues around nutrition and sustainable food systems, taking an integrated approach to continuously improve the sustainability of dairy systems.
The dairy community works together to follow the US Dairy Stewardship Commitment, which includes a set of 19 performance indicators and metrics that measure and identify improvements in the field, on the farm and in dairy companies along the supply chain.
The Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam
was launched in 2016. It outlines the contributions of the global dairy sector to the achievement of key Sustainable Development Goals such as ending poverty and hunger and protecting the environment.
Addressing these universal challenges requires complex and comprehensive approaches. Finding more opportunities to work together and across various sectors will help us promote a healthy, sustainable food system that includes nutritious foods to nourish the world. The US dairy community pledges to continuously make contributions and demonstrate action towards achieving the SDGs vision for the future a reality.