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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Enhancing food systems dialogues in Central Asia and Caucasus

07/05/2019 - A recent sub-regional symposia - Symposium on sustainable food systems and nutrition governance for healthy diets in Central Asia and Caucasus – was held from 24-26 April 2019 in Astana, [...]

The FAO/WHO/WTO International Forum on Food Safety and Trade

23/04/2019 - 23-24 April 2019Geneva, Switzerland Continuing the discussions from the Addis Conference, the Geneva Forum will address the trade-related aspects and challenges of food safety. The food safety [...]

Monitoring and Evaluating for Inclusive and Sustainable Food Systems

03/04/2019 - 3-4 April 2019WICC Wageningen, the Netherlands In order to deliver on the 2030 SDG- Agenda, we need to improve on the performance of food systems. 'Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals [...]

Call for papers - Global Food Security Journal

02/04/2019 - Call for papers is on Sustainable Food Systems and Diets - Deadline: 1 June 2019The Global Food Security Journal is calling for papers on sustainable diets and food systems to [...]

4th session of the UN Environment Assembly

11/03/2019 - 8-15 March 2019, Nairobi, Kenya The United Nations Environment Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme is the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment. [...]

IFPRI Policy Seminar "Transforming food systems to deliver healthy, sustainable diets: The view from the world’s science academies"

14/02/2019 - 14 February 201912:15 pm to 1:45 pm (EST)IFPRI  | 1201 Eye St. NW  | 12th Floor Washington, D.C. 20005 The InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), a global network of science academies, [...]

The First FAO/WHO/AU International Food Safety Conference

12/02/2019 - 12-13 February 2019 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia With an estimated 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses annually, unsafe food is a threat to human health and economies globally. Foodborne diseases in [...]

2nd Global Conference on the One Planet: Sustainable Food Systems Programme

05/02/2019 - 5-7 FebruarySan Jose, Costa Rica The Sustainable Food Systems Programme of the UN One Planet network (10YFP) is a multi-stakeholder partnership with the aim to accelerate the shift towards [...]

Transforming the food system to fight non-communicable diseases

29/01/2019 - Malnutrition and unhealthy diets are important risk factors for non-communicable diseases. Francesco Branca and colleagues call for changes in both what and how food is produced, marketed, and [...]

The Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change: The Lancet Commission report

27/01/2019 - Malnutrition in all its forms, including obesity, undernutrition, and other dietary risks, is the leading cause of poor health globally. In the near future, the health effects of climate change will [...]

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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 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…