Sustainable Food Systems

Adequate nutrition is essential for health and well-being. Every person on this planet has the right to safe, sufficient and nutritious food and to be free from hunger. Yet, undernourished is rampant. Even when food is available and accessible, the nutrient quality of the food is often poor and people’s diets are often inadequate, monotonous and unbalanced. The result is a high prevalence of various forms of malnutrition that co-exist within most countries. Stunting and wasting are underlying causes of death in children under five, micronutrient deficiencies in particular vitamin A, iodine, iron and zinc affect over two billion people, and overweight and obesity have been increasing rapidly worldwide, affecting all population groups.

Aware and concerned about these facts, 164 Members of FAO and WHO attended the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), co-organized by FAO and WHO, in Rome, in November 2014. They were joined by 164 civil society and private sector organizations as well as other UN and intergovernmental organizations.

According to the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition, a food system “gathers all the elements (environment, people, inputs, processes, infrastructures, instructions, etc.) and activities that relate to the production, processing, distribution, preparation and consumption of food, and the outputs of these activities, including socio-economic and environmental outcomes.

At the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), it was universally acknowledged that current food systems are being increasingly challenged to provide adequate, safe, diversified and nutritious food for all that contribute to healthy diets. The Conference adopted the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and its Framework for Action, committing to “enhance sustainable food systems by developing coherent public policies from production to consumption across relevant sectors to provide year-round access to food that meets people’s nutrition needs and promote safe and diversified healthy diet.”

One year later, in September 2015, at the historical global summit, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted to guide global development through 2030 while ensuring that no one would be left behind. The SDG Goal “to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture” as well as many other SDG goals reiterate and reinforce the commitments made at ICN2. Further building momentum for nutrition, the Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016 to 2025) was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in April 2016, following the recommendation of the ICN2. Its Action Areas focuses on food systems for healthy, sustainable diets. Find out more about the Nutrition Decade here.

The Decade of Action creates an enabling political environment for turning commitments made into action but countries need further technical support in order to do that. FAO and WHO propose to hold an International Symposium on 1-2 December, 2016 to focus mainly on illustrating solutions to implement food systems related ICN2 Framework for Action recommendations. Participants will include government officials with policy-making and programme-design mandates coming from Health and Agriculture ministries.

Latest content relevant to Sustainable Food Systems

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3rd Global Conference of the SFS Programme: Achieving the SDGs through food systems transformation - on the road to the Food Systems Summit 2021

25/11/2020 - 25, 26, 27, 30 November and 1, 3 December 2020 Register here The 3rd Global Conference of the Sustainable Food Systems Programme will be held virtually. The purpose of this 3rd [...]

The UN Food System Summit

19/10/2020 - In 2021, UN Secretary-General António Guterres will convene a Food Systems Summit as part of the Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The Summit will [...]

Nutrition-sensitive investments in agriculture and food systems. Budget analysis guidance note

23/09/2020 - This publication outlines methods and actions for countries to monitor nutrition-related spending. It will contribute to understanding the importance and opportunities for countries to use costing and [...]

COVID-19 pandemic: The evolving impact on how people meet the food system

28/05/2020 - For more than two months now, the world has been living in semi-confinement and the world’s economy moving in slow motion due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Both the disease and the measures [...]

2020 Global Food Policy Report: Building Inclusive Food Systems

07/04/2020 - Food systems are evolving quickly to meet growing and changing demand, but they are not serving everyone’s needs. IFPRI’s flagship report looks at the obstacles and opportunities as well [...]

Ag2Nut discussion on COVID-19, food systems, and interaction with malnutrition

02/04/2020 - Thursday 2 April 2020Time (1hour): 10:00a NY/Boston, 3:00p London, 4:00p Rome, 5:00p Addis, 7:30p Delhi With COVID-19 dominating the news, is it a priority to think about agriculture, food systems [...]

International Symposium: Sustainable food systems - Going beyond food security

07/02/2020 - 7-8 February 2020Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany Organisers: Food Systems 2020, Justus Liebig University Giessen www.foodsystems2020.de The symposium addresses the challenge of [...]

Policy Seminar - Food Systems Dashboard: How it will work

27/01/2020 - Monday, 27 January 202012:15 pm to 1:45 pm (EST)IFPRI (Washington, DC) IFPRI, CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH), Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and [...]

Food Systems and Diets Handbook

19/12/2019 - Published by the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, this handbook offers a summary of evidence and concrete policy recommendations for countries to provide healthy diets [...]

IFPRI Seminar - Food System Transformations: National Actions in a Globalized World

14/11/2019 - Thursday, November 14, 2019  12:15 pm to 1:45 pm (EDT) IFPRI, Washington, D.C.  Food systems in developing countries are undergoing a rapid transformation shaped by global and regional [...]

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UNSCN Discussion Paper - Water and Nutrition. Harmonizing actions for the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition and the UN Water Action Decade Progress for both SDG 2 and SDG 6 has been unsatisfactory, with several indicators worsening over time, including an increase in the number of undernourished, overweight and obese people, as well…
UNSCN Discussion Paper Urban-Rural Linkages for Nutrition. Territorial approaches for sustainable development The nutrition challenges facing the world of today are daunting. One out of three people suffers from at least one form of malnutrition, and current trends suggest this may increase in the coming…
UNSCN Brief “Non-communicable diseases, diets and nutrition” Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are now the leading cause of mortality worldwide; they are responsible for 70% of global deaths; equivalent to 40 million people. The health and economic repercussions…
Guidance Note on Integration of Nutrition in the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (renamed Cooperation Framework) The purpose of this Guidance Note is to assist United Nations Country Teams (UNCTs) with the integration of nutrition into the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework that…
UNSCN Discussion Paper - Schools as a System to Improve Nutrition Given the changing circumstances in the nutrition landscape, there is a need to reassess and reiterate the role of the schools in improving health and nutritional status of children. This discussion…