How dietitians can protect the planet
  • Online delivery

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The Elsie Widdowson Memorial lecture is one of the highest profile in the dietetics profession, and Dr Clare Pettinger from the University of Plymouth will be delivering it for 2022. 
There is increasing evidence supporting the climate crisis and the fact that it is already drastically affecting both human and planetary health. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has set a target of 1.5°C as the ‘safe’ upper limit to mitigate the effects of climate change, and governments all over the globe are responding to this taking steps to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions. In the UK for example, the NHS has taken ambitious steps to become ‘Net Zero’ by 2045 (NHS, 2020).
As a profession, dietetics is leading the way to tackle this important issue. But as individuals, there can be a sense of ‘complexity paralysis’ – with so many factors to consider, with multiple competing agendas (social, political and economic), it is hard to know what we can do to make a difference. Individuals often feel powerless that their own efforts will merely be a drop in the ocean in the wider scheme of things.
But Clare will talk through how every little change we make individually can join together to create a collective movement for transformational change. She is a passionate advocate for environmentally sustainable diets and sustainable food systems, in her capacity as professional dietitian, educator and active researcher, as well as in her personal life.
Clare said: “It is my absolute honour to be given the opportunity to deliver the Elsie Widdowson lecture this year. My topic will be ‘How dietitians can protect the planet’. I have been described as a ‘leader’ in this area, for which I am very grateful. But, I have been very lucky to have had multiple opportunities to develop my research and action to champion this agenda. However, this is only because I have worked alongside some amazing and inspirational people along the way, who have a similar passion to make a difference. I believe we are all (collective) leaders, because we are all ‘experts by experience’ and can facilitate change.” 
Here is a flavour of what Clare will be covering in her lecture on 6 September:
  • Her own journey as a dietitian and educator with a GREEN focus 
  • The evidence to support this agenda (national and international) including One Blue Dot, AHP Greener Hub (NHS net zero) and ICDA sustainable food systems 
  • What does it mean to be green(er)?
  • How can you be a green(er) leader for your own profession or discipline? 
The live lecture is only accessible to British Dietetic Association members who can register via the BDA website. A recording will be publicly available after the event, so please email clare.pettinger@plymouth.ac.uk to request a link if you are interested in viewing the lecture.
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