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, 793 million people, or one in every nine, are undernourished globally. 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. At the conference, it was universally acknowledged that current food systems are being increasingly challenged to provide adequate, safe, diversified and nutrition rich food for all that contribute to healthy diets.

The Conference adopted the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and its Framework for Action, committing to act to eradicate hunger and prevent all forms of malnutrition worldwide. Among others, Member States committed 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 from 2016 to 2025 was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in April 2016, following the recommendation of the ICN2. Its pillar 1 focuses on food systems for healthy, sustainable diets.

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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Transforming Food Systems to Support Nutritious Diets

17/04/2018 - April 17th 2018 at 2121 K. Street NW, Suite 800-B, Washington, D.C. 9.00-10.30 EDT, coffee served from 8.30 FAO Liaison Office for North America and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition [...]

World Bank Spring Meetings

16/04/2018 - 16-22 April 2018, Washington, DC The Spring Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (WBG) bring together central bankers, ministers of [...]

Advancing Research (and Policy) on Nutrition and Agriculture - IFPRI Policy Seminar

22/02/2018 - Thursday, February 22, 2018 - 12:15 pm to 1:45 pm (EST)IFPRIWashington, DC  The agricultural sector has long been viewed as a major driver of poverty reduction and food security in [...]

Healthy diets for all: A key to meeting the SDGs - Global Panel Policy Brief No. 10

20/11/2017 - The policy brief "Healthy diets for all: A key to meeting the SDGs" is a call to action for policymakers at all levels to recognise the central role of high-quality diets and nutrition in [...]

Regional Symposia on Sustainable Food Systems for Healthy Diets and Improved Nutrition

10/11/2017 - Although the Decade of Action creates an enabling political environment for turning commitments into action, countries need additional technical support to translate their political will into [...]

Forum on Women’s Empowerment in the Context of Food Security and Nutrition

25/09/2017 - 25 September 2017, 09:30 - 17.00 CESTFAO, Red RoomRome, ItalyThe Forum on Women’s Empowerment in the context of Food Security and Nutrition will be held on 25 September 2017 at FAO in [...]

Launch event: HLPE Report on Sustainable Forestry for Food Security and Nutrition

27/06/2017 - 27 June, FAO HQ, Rome At its 41st session in October 2014, the CFS requested the HLPE to prepare a study on Sustainable Forestry for Food Security and Nutrition, to feed into the CFS Plenary session [...]

Policy Guidance Series - Strengthening Sector Policies for Better Food Security and Nutrition Results

01/06/2017 -   Achieving the food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture goals by 2030 requires a coordinated set of actions on a number of fronts: coherent policies and programmes, an increase of [...]

Improving nutrition through enhanced food environments - Global Panel Policy Brief No. 7

10/05/2017 - Today’s food systems are failing to drive improvements in nutrition. More than two billion people suffer from a serious lack of vitamins and minerals, and over 200 million children are stunted [...]

CFS-UNSCN Intersessional events on Nutrition

09/05/2017 - Investments for Healthy Food Systems Tuesday, 9 May 2017, 09:30 – 17:00, Red Room, FAO HQ, Rome and via webcast. The event increased common understanding about how policies and investment [...]

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Guidance Note on Integration of Nutrition in the United Nations Development Assistance Framework The purpose of this Guidance Note is to assist United Nation Country Teams (UNCTs) with the integration of nutrition into the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), using a…
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…
UNSCN Discussion Paper - Sustainable Diets for Healthy People and a Healthy Planet Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing all nations today leading to not only environmental but also economic and social consequences. It has increased the risk of weather-related…
Guidance Note for UN Humanitarian Coordinators: Integrated multi-sectoral nutrition actions - Nutrition Cluster Integrated multi-sectoral nutrition actions to achieve global and national nutrition-related SDG targets, particularly in fragile and conflict-affected states Reaching the most vulnerable populations…
UNSCN Discussion Paper - By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition and leave no one behind The paper aims to present the centrality of nutrition in the current sustainable development agenda. It provides an overview of the numerous and inter-related nutrition targets that have been…