Internationally acclaimed chefs Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca, from Spain, were appointed last week as UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors to work closely with the Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDG-F).
The Roca brothers will generate support for the newly launched Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed by world leaders to achieve a future by 2030 where hunger, unemployment, inequality, and climate change are a thing of the past.
The only siblings to be jointly appointed as UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors and the first to specifically focus on the SDGs, the brothers will lend their voice and expertise to advocate for enhanced food security and access to nutritious food. They will also advise on improving food industry and agricultural practices to protect the environment and create jobs.
“We are honoured to work with UNDP and the Sustainable Development Fund to advance the vision of a future where everyone has access to healthy foods,” said Josep Roca. “The mandate of the new Sustainable Development Goals is clear. Creating prosperity means securing a food chain that is environmentally sustainable, socially just and economically inclusive.”
Owners of the critically acclaimed El Celler de Can Roca restaurant in Girona, Spain — twice named the world’s best restaurant by Restaurant Magazine — the brothers are known for emphasizing the importance of growing and producing food locally and in an environmentally conscious way, using traditional ingredients and practices, and ensuring that everyone has access to healthy nutrients. As Goodwill Ambassadors, the brothers will advocate for better nutrition and food security to promote sustainable development and how food choices, or lack of choices, impact health and the environment.
“The Roca brothers are the first UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors to be appointed following the launch of the new 2030 sustainable development agenda, which will guide our work towards eliminating hunger, unemployment, inequality and climate change,” said UNDP Associate Administrator Tegegnework Gettu. “The brothers will lend their vision, creativity and expertise to support our longstanding mission to end poverty and protect our planet.”
Food is a central component of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development
In addition to raising awareness of key global issues, the Rocas will also advocate for improved practices in the production, distribution and consumption of food, advising on sustainable techniques to reduce food waste through affordable preparation and conservation, support local food sourcing and minimize environmental damage.
“While working on sustainability issues is an arena that is not always immediately associated with great chefs or leaders in the culinary field, the Roca brothers will be important drivers of change in the food security arena. They will also help support our efforts to promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how food can help enhance innovation and economic growth,” said Paloma Duran, Director of the SDG Fund.
The Roca’s social and environmental commitment
Far from their famed kitchen nestled in the hills of Spain, the Roca brothers are dedicated to building awareness of the critical issues linked to food security and nutrition and will play a critical role in promoting the use of local and sustainable food products.
“We believe that there is a critical need for the world to focus on food, health and environment. Food security and access to nutritious food intersects with other key areas like climate change, agricultural production and labor. Food security means more than expanding harvests or yields – but also providing a chance for communities to gain new insight into how to protect their local crops and culinary traditions, all of which impact other areas,” said Joan Roca. “We as chefs can work with a new generation of partners to get our message across and provide knowledge that can be useful for larger communities. In terms of advocating for food greater food security and fighting malnutrition-this is also our responsibility.”
As part of their first foray into working with the United Nations, the three brothers have committed to establishing a stronger understanding of issues to help farm communities boost productivity. In rural areas, especially in many developing countries, the role of smallholder farmers is critical for not only growing the local economy and providing the bulk of employment opportunities but also for bearing the greatest hunger burden. The Roca brothers, are eager to bring smallholder farmers into the dialogue and show how sourcing local ingredients and other innovative practices can boost harvests and improve livelihoods.
The Roca brothers will support the SDG Fund in establishing a network of training centers — which will pilot in Africa — in an effort to increase sustainability, reduce waste and improve market conditions for farmers and small businesses, as well as create new jobs, promote gender equality and provide skills training.