The food revolution has begun in Rome! From 24 to 26 July 2023, the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) was filled with hope and action at the event UN Food System Summit + Stocktaking Moment.

More than 2,000 participants from 161 countries, including 22 heads of state and government, joined this epic gathering, along with over 100 ministerial delegates and more than 150 non-state actor organisations. The goal: to transform food systems for a sustainable future. CARTIF, in its commitment to the transformation of the Food System and in its role as coordinator of the FUSILLI Project, was present at the UN Food System Summit to follow the latest recommendations and continue designing innovative projects and solutions to help companies, cities and society in general in this transition towards a sustainable food system.

Although progress has been made since the 2021 Summit, we still face pressing challenges – more than 780 million people suffer from hunger and a third of food goes to waste! But here at UNFSS+2, we refuse to give up.

The first session, “Harnessing Urbanisation for Food Systems Transformation“, shone with innovative ideas. Urbanisation is a powerful driving force for change in the agri-food system, and cities play a crucial role in shaping the future of food.

How do we achieve a food revolution? By empowering cities to lead the change. Investing in technology and innovative solutions is key to ensuring sustainability – it´s time to choose healthier and more environmentally friendly food options! The future is now. Peru and Morocco are shining examples of successful governance mechanisms. In Peru, governance mechanisms at local and municipal level have been successful in promoting food security and nutrition. More than 20 actions directly related to cities have focused on improving food security and food health well-being. And Morocco, a shining example of harnessing urbanisation for food systems transformation, has focused on becoming greener, localising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopting Mediterranean country initiative and embracing multi-stakeholder actions. These efforts are driving positive change in food systems and fostering sustainability.

This event is more than a summit, it is a call to action, it is time to step forward towards inclusive and sustainable food systems! The food revolution is underway, and you can be part of it!

The second day (25 July 2023) immersed us in the blue transformation of food systems. Representatives from various parts of the world came together to address the challenges and opportunities surrounding aquatic food systems.

Source: FAO via Linkedin

The creation of a Global Action Network for Sustainable Aquatic Food was at the heart of the session. The goal? To monitor and ensure responsible fishing practices, develop infrastructure, improve market access and preserve our marine resources – aquatic food is a treasure trove of nutrients essential for human health and prosperity.

Norway and its commitment to sustainable aquatic food left me in awe. With initiatives to monitor and ensure the sustainability of aquaculture, preserve nutrients and increase fish consumption in marginalised communities, Normway is leading the way to a healthier future in the blue economy!

But it is not only Norway that shines, Indonesia also presented its ambitious Blue Economy Plan 2025 – 2035. With ample maritime resources, Indonesia aims for inclusive and sustainable growth – aquatic food, rich in protein and with a low carbon footprint, is at the heart of its vision for responsible development!

South Africa and Tanzania also made waves with their visions for a sustainable future. South Africa focused on eradicating hunger and providing nutritious food through the sustainable use of aquatic resources. Meanwhile, Tanzania highlighted the importance of an inclusive and sustainable blue economy, encompassing multiple stages of production, processing and consumption.

The European Union (EU) was not far behind, showing its dedication to the blue agenda and emphasising collaboration between all actors in the food system. The EU is committed to improving infrastructure, livelihoods and connectivity with Africa to achieve a thriving blue economy.

During the session “Governance for Food System Transformation”, an essential truth was echoed: governance is key to a sustainable future. Inclusion, collaboration and leadership are fundamental to shaping resilient food systems around the world.

From the Lebanese Parliament, the power of legislation as a catalyst for impactful food initiatives was highlighted. Ensuring clear roles and responsabilities for all stakeholders is crucial for consensus and effective implementation.

Collaboration between stakeholders was also highlighted by the Ugandan delegate, who underlined that coordination and communication are key to driving change in food systems.

Financing initiatives for food systems transformation were also discussed, with representatives from Indonesia and Switzerland sharing their strategies. Access to finance and support for private investment are essential to achieve evidence-based policies and sustainability.

Furthermore, the importance of ensuring that decisions and policies consider the rural perspective was emphasised. Inclusion, transparency and access to resources such as land and water are key to transformative change.

Julia Pinedo, researcher at CARTIF, in UN Systems Summit

Digitalisation shone during the sessión “Digitalisation for Resilient Food Systems”. Technology, data and digital solutions are key to acccelerating the transformation of the food system.

From the World Economic Forum, it was underlined that digitalisation is a game changer. Artificial intelligence and real-time analytics are essential for progress.

Data platforms were also mentiones as a powerful tool to empower farmers with valuable and actionable information in real time.

The private sector demonstrated its importance in shaping resilient food systems. Public-private partnerships, responsible investments and collaboration are key to achieving sustainable outcomes.

The German government stressed that including private investment is crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. However, the need to act responsibly and sustainably to ensure progress was emphasised.

The private sector was also encouraged to support nutrition and prioritise health over profitability. Collaboration and accountability are key to driving positive change.

In conclusion, resilient food systems are within our reach. With a blue transformation of aquatic systems, inclusive governance, digitisation and private sector engagement, we can build a sustainable and equitable future for all.

Day three was a day full of solutions, challenges and next steps for food systems transformation!

In the first session of the day, experts and stakeholders gathered to discuss “Mobilising Means of Implementing Food Systems Transformation”. Critical aspects for accelerating progress towards more sustainable food systems were explored. The World Bank presented an innovative tool called “REALTIME3Fs“, designed to financially support small and medium enterprises, farmers and other key actors. This tool addresses five essential pillars – food systems infrastructure, agricultural and value chain development, social protection, climate change and natural resources, and nutrition – ensuring that fianancial resources reach the most vulnerable sectors and promote holistic transformation.

However, challenges were identified in the financing of food systems, as global Official Development Assistance for food systems decreased in 2021. This raises concerns about the adequacy of funding to drive comprehensive change. This is where the role of the private sector becomes critical, as it is expected to invest in 50% of the achievements of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Investment in science, innovation and technology, as well as strengthening data and monitoring systems, were proposed as key solutions to accelerate transformation. In addition, the importance of trade in addredding global food gaps and meeting SDG2 (Zero Hunger) was highlighted. However, to achieve effective transformation, the need fir adequate governance, the participation of all stakeholders and a global financing agenda involving the private was emphasised.

The closing session reaffirmed the urgen need to mobilise resources for food systems transformation. Several challenges were highlighted, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the global crises and the war in Ukraine, which have further destabilised food systems and threatened vulnerable populations with hunger and malnutrition.

It called for concerted and urgent action in six key areas to achieve the potential of food systems: mainstreaming food strategies into national sustainable development policies, inclusive governance, investment in research and innovation, participatory design and implementation, private sector engagement and access to finance.

The UN Food Systems Centre will focus on coordinating inclusive national processes, and the entire UN system will work to enhance coordination and partnerships for real transformation.

In short, transforming food systems is a collective journey towards a sustainable future. Collaboration between countries, organisations and sectors is essential to achieve meaningful change and ensure that no one is left behind. With a focus on sustainability, equity and mutual accountability, we can build more resilient and just food systems for all. The future of food is in our hands!

Julia Pinedo
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