Around the world, there are a plethora of activities that blend environmental benefits with health benefits. This co-beneficial approach is outlined in our recently published paper, 5 Pathways to Health and Environment in a Wellbeing Economy

The paper showcases a number of these case studies that marry these two ideas – proving that we don’t have to choose between just focusing on environmental benefits or only focusing on health benefits. ather, there are ways in which we can develop policies that support both of these objectives simultaneously. 

On June 28th, WEAll hosted with the authors of this paper, a panel that brought together speakers from around the world implementing these practices in their local communities. 

The case studies show that multiple objectives can be achieved if thought of holistically. Social cooperation, food security, health, climate change – all of these can be tackled simultaneously to build a Wellbeing Economy. 

The first case study was Emma Whitman from Moo Foods. Based in the Scottish Highlands, Moo Food works to build community resilience by bringing people together to grow food, knowledge and confidence. 

“Everything we do at MOO Food is based on these three words; Growing Our Future.”

Emma Whitman

They do this by supporting a multitude of agriculture projects in their community. From planting orchards to building growing spaces, to instigating school partnerships, Moo Foods reaches a  wide range of the community –  all centering around food security. This method of practice centers food security while also strengthening  community. 

The webinar then learns from Piedad Viteri from Johannes Kepler school in Ecuador. This school integrates regenerative design into all aspects of their curriculum. They’ve taken the  Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the framework to further develop their strategy. They even went as far to declare their school as an ‘SDG Territory’. 

“We have to get together, in order to change things, in order to also regenerate.”

Piedad Viteri

One of the highlights of their program was the decision to move all the classrooms outside. This furthered the education of the students at their school to not only understand the core pieces of their curriculum, but also foster a deeper connection to the earth and to each other. 

Lastly, the webinar introduced Zeenath Hasan who works at Rude Foods in Malmo, Sweden. In Sweden there is an activist culture around food rescue. Rude Foods saw this and thought they could make food rescue a part of the mainstream. 

“Most of the economic activities that are hidden, is mainly what makes up the economy.”

Zeenath Hasan

With this in mind, they’ve built a strategy to rescue food and resell it to the community. This practice they refer to  as a ‘food rescuing catering service’. In this practice, they’re able to reduce food waste and blur the lines between the eater as an activist or the activist as someone who is food insecure. 

These case studies show the creativity involved to develop co-beneficial approaches to achieving both health and environment objectives. If you’re curious to learn more, please read the paper here.

Written by Isabel Nuesse


The University Hospital in Leicester ran a study investigating the possibility to
reduce the amount of waste going into the incinerator from the Nephrology
procedures room, which uses a conspicuous amount of consumables, which
contributes greatly to the UK’s carbon footprint as well as environmental pollution.
In this study, the simple addition of a recycling bin in the procedure room reduced
the incinerated waste dramatically, with around 60 percent of the waste not
requiring incineration and with the majority of it being plastic that was potentially
recyclable. The results of this short, one month long study show the potential to
recycle part of hospital waste, with gains in terms of health, environment, and

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In 2020, Amsterdam launched a new city plan that focuses on the Doughnut Economy concept of remaining within the planetary boundaries while fulfilling people’s needs, such as clean air. The City is not new to designing plans to improve the quality of life of its citizens. In October 2019, the city council published its Clean Air Action Plan, which aimed to improve air quality. Due to poor air quality, people in Amsterdam have a life expectancy one year shorter than the average national standard. In the plan, the city aimed to comply with the WHO standard rather than the EU standard for particulate matter, since the EU limits are still too high to not negatively impact the health of people. The plan is structured in three steps: • By 2022, only emission-free buses and coaches will circulate in the city centre. • By 2025, taxis, passenger crafts, and municipal ferries must be emission-free within an area that includes the surroundings of the city centre, called A10. • By 2030, all means of transport, including personal vehicles, must be emissionfree for the entire city. The City of Amsterdam is well known for investing in bike lanes, allowing people to cycle safely. However, the City’s plan also aimed to: (1) facilitate the use of e-cars sharing, (2) increase subsidies for the purchase of electric vehicles, (3) improve infrastructure to support e-vehicles, and (4) invest in awareness about addressing air quality, leading by example as a municipality.

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Among the world’s major metropolises, Paris has the dubious distinction of having long ignored environmental issues. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the city has gradually engaged in urban ecological transition, a transition that has greatly accelerated in the last mayoral mandate, which started in 2014 and was renewed in 2020. What is more, Paris has been able, in recent times, to articulate this new ecological ambition with a concern for social justice. The establishment of a low-emission zone in Paris, enlarged in Summer 2019, has been accompanied by a complete ban on diesel and gasoline vehicles in 2030, a measure without an equivalent in France. Previous measures have greatly regulated car traffic with convincing results: air quality in Paris has been improving by 30 percentage points in less than a decade (in 2019, 70 percent of days were considered to be of good or very good air quality). The development of cycle paths and practices (practices accelerated by the operations
transportation strike in winter 2019-2020 and the COVID-19 crisis that followed)
provides health benefits for both users and pedestrians. It has been accompanied
by public financial support: Paris has created a set of around thirty financial aids
intended for individuals and businesses willing to switch from vehicles running on
fossil fuels to electric vehicles.

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Finland is known to have one of the best education systems in the EU. One aspect of the education system, which is particularly relevant in terms of health prevention, is the inclusion of health literacy as a subject in the national curricula. This is a compulsory subject all through the education system, from primary to high school.

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A recently published study investigates the existence of adequate food policies in Portuguese municipalities favouring a shift towards sustainable food systems. The study found the Municipality of Vila Nova de Gaia to be the most policy ready of the investigated municipalities, with policies and activities in place in 4 key policy dimensions: Information and awareness, Administrative and government capacity, Local government functions, and Strategic policies (Galli et al., 2020). A signatory of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, Vila Nova de Gaia has, in recent years, developed an action plan for implementing the Pact. Through this plan, the municipality supports its residents in increasing their awareness of food consumption and production patterns, for instance via the ‘Flag to Act’ project, which is aimed at both building knowledge on current dietary habits of the population and promoting alternative healthy food habits. Weekly no-meat and no-fish meals for the students of pre-school and first cycle of elementary education in public schools are promoted. Teaching gardens are available in schools and, since 2018, at least 30% of meals within the municipality’s schools include locally produced vegetables. Specific actions are ongoing to evaluate food waste in primary schools and kindergartens, with plans to scale-up this action at a broader level. Vila Nova de Gaia also organizes annual nutrition seminars and periodically tracks implementation of the Action Plan of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, which is validated by the General Health Directorate. Several efforts are also in place to favour trans-departmental structures and coordination among different offices of the local administration to enhance systems thinking: the Social Action, Volunteering, and Health Division (DASVS) promotes, in collaboration with the City Hall’s Personnel Department, the implementation of awareness raising actions, evaluations of the nutritional status, and identification of the eating habits of the municipality’s professional groups. Favouring the urbanrural interconnection, the Municipality is also equipped with a Food and Tourism Promotion Action Plan to support short agri-food circuits by 1) promoting urban and peri-urban food production and processing based on sustainable approaches, 2) bringing producers closer to consumers, and 3) promoting other market systems to integrate the economic and social infrastructure of the urban food system. Finally, to incentivise farmer-citizen reconnection and promote regional gastronomy with sustainable production, the municipality has developed the Gastronomic Charter of Vila Nova de Gaia, through a survey of typical dishes and their historical context.

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In February 2016, France enacted Loi Garot, a legislation designed to cut the national food waste in half by diverting 5 million tonnes of food surpluses from landfills by 2025. Its main tenet makes it illegal for supermarkets to dispose of food that is still perfectly safe for consumption; instead, they must donate unwanted food surpluses to organisations serving the underprivileged. Italy followed suit with a similar law in August 2016. The EU recently issued the Farm to Fork strategy to build a resilient, equitable, and healthy food system to become the global standard for sustainability. At the local level, non-profit organisations in countries such as Sweden and Denmark, among others, are aiming to reduce food waste locally and redistribute food resources to vulnerable groups in the community. Rude Food Malmö is the first Swedish, rescued-food based catering service that collects food such as dayold bread, spotty bananas, and bruised apples, and sells them as part of its catering service, as well as redistributes it to migrant and unhomed communities. A similar restaurant is Sopköket in Stockholm, which runs on 50 percent rescued food and offers employment opportunities to marginalised groups.

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The India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) is working on increasing the efficiency of the cold-chain (how perishable foods get to market), which might be key to reducing food waste. ICAP analyses different scenarios and provides policy recommendations, which are then implemented by UNEP. A pilot study is currently being undertaken in the state of Tamil Nadu, and it will test whether a zero-carbon packhouse powered by renewable energy, coupled with refrigerated transport, will reduce post-harvest food loss. This project aims to reduce food loss by 75 percent, as well as boost farmer income by profit-sharing. In addition to this project, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the UNEP-led Cool Coalition will also support the national government in an effort to connect local farmers with markets via coldchains, as well as support other countries in introducing similar plans, drawing on India’s methodology

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During the 2015 Expo dedicated to food security and sustainable development, Milan proposed an international protocol aiming to involve a number of world cities in coordinating global food policies. This protocol, called the Urban Food Policy Act, aims to develop sustainable and inclusive food systems that provide healthy and affordable food to all people, while also protecting the environment. The Act also encourages coordination between municipal and community sectors, so as to integrate food security considerations into social, environmental, and economic policy making, and seeks to create coherence between local, national, and global policies, programmes, and initiatives. At its inception, the Act had 100 members. Today, this number has risen to 210 cities around the world, including cities in Italy, the United States, Brazil, the Ivory Coast, Madagascar, China, and Mozambique, indicating the commitment of global municipal actors to a more sustainable and secure future for food production and distribution practices.

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MOO Food is a small organisation based in Muir of Ord, a small village in the Scottish Highlands. It aims to promote environmental sustainability and build community resilience by bringing people together to grow food, knowledge, and confidence. It does so by organising events and activities throughout the year that give the people of the community, irrespective of their background, access to good, nutritional, and chemical-free food, helping them to also understand the importance of using local produce to reduce food waste and their carbon footprint. Not only does MOO Food work for the community, but the community works with MOO Food, too. As Emma Whitham, MOO Food’s Founder stressed, ‘MOO Food is now completely community-led by a board of Trustees, a cohort of volunteers and three members of part-time staff’. One of the key projects that MOO Food runs is called Growing Our Future, which saw the instalment of growing boxes in key spots around the village, as well as the opening of a Community Orchard. Both initiatives enable the people of the community to grow and take any food they need for free. In terms of impact, Whitham calculates that the project has saved a total of 162t CO2 e to date, with an estimated lifetime saving of 487t CO2 e. MOO Food also works with local schools and partners with the Department for Work and Pensions to deliver a Back to Work programme and with NHS Scotland to deliver a green therapy programme to help people who are suffering from mild to moderate mental illness. In addition to that, it runs movie screenings, cooking workshops, and a community fridge that was installed in the main square of the village where people can take (or leave) any food they need (or that they do not need anymore). In the month of August, 2020 alone, this helped save 396 kgs of waste, a 560 percent increase compared to the same month in 2019. The use of the community fridge seems to have increased with the COVID-19 pandemic, which shows the crucial role MOO Food has been playing in the recovery of the village. This has inspired others to act and start similar projects. Someone from as far as Uganda got in touch with MOO Food to help them plant an orchard in their country and MOO Food continues to support communities across Scotland to develop food-sharing platforms. An example is the Casserole Club Project, which matches cooks with diners so that those who can easily make one extra portion of a hot meal can share it with someone in the village that would benefit not only from the food but also from the social interaction. At the moment, MOO Food is working on a new project called Scan not Scraps, which is funded by the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund and which aims to further reduce the carbon footprint of the community by 365tCO2 e.

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Johannes Kepler Colegio is a school in Quito, Ecuador, which takes a holistic approach to teaching. Their vision is to form ‘world citizens and excellent human beings’ who care about their surroundings and initiate change. There is no mention of preparing people for the job market; they focus on growing good human beings who care about their environment and community, by incorporating the UN Sustainable Development Goals in their curricula at all levels, from preschool to high school. The school was created in 1991, with the purpose of creating a strong link between community and school. Education is seen as the tool to imagine and create a better world. Some important pillars for the school are: • Close connections with families and the local community; • All three levels of education are on the same campus, which allows students from different ages to interact; • The campus is integrated in the natural environment, which includes part of the surrounding forest; • Several activities are promoted on campus including sports, gardening, and animal farming; • Students’ initiatives are taken into consideration and implemented. For example, last year, students requested the elimination of plastic bottles from the vending machines, arguing it was not a sustainable practice.

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