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To identify opportunities and challenges for the promotion of healthy, sustainable oil consumption in India.
We use a framework for policy space analysis which distinguishes between policy context, process and characteristics.
We focus on the Indian edible oils sector and on factors shaping the policy space at a national level.
The study is based on the analysis of policy documents and semi-structured interviews with key experts and stakeholders in the edible oils sector.
We find opportunities associated with the emergence of multisectoral policy frameworks for climate adaptation and non-communicable disease (NCD) prevention at a national level which explicitly include the oils sector, the existence of structures for sectoral policy coordination, some supportive factors for the translation of nutrition evidence into practice, and the possibility of integrating nutrition-sensitive approaches within current state-led agricultural interventions. However, the trade-offs perceived across sustainability, NCD prevention and food security objectives in the vegetable oils sector are considered a barrier for policy influence and implementation. Sustainability and nutrition advocates tend to focus on different segments of the value chain, missing potential synergies. Moreover, policy priorities are dominated by historical concerns for food security, understood as energy provision, as well as economic and strategic priorities.
Systematic efforts towards identifying synergistic approaches, from agricultural production to distribution of edible oils, as well as increased involvement of nutrition advocates with upstream policies in the oils sector, could increase policy influence for advocates of both nutrition and sustainability.
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