This is how food systems leaders prioritize human, animal, and ecological health


By Patty Fong, Program Director, Climate & Health at the Global Alliance for the Future of Food

On Wednesday 14 October 2020, the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, supported by partners, brought together a broad range of stakeholders to discuss the need for a new narrative and action around systemic solutions for global food systems.

As a partner event of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) high-level special event on Strengthening Global Governance of Food Security & Nutrition, panelists from Rwanda, Switzerland, Chile, Vietnam, and the UK shared stories of global and local government leadership and examples of holistic policies and practices that deliver healthy, resilient, and sustainable food systems for all. 

They shared examples of collaboration between national governments, food producers, community groups, businesses, researchers, investors, and civil society organizations including consumer information laws in Chile, nutrition programs in Rwanda, programs to increase vegetable consumption in the UK, and government strategies on agriculture and nutrition in Vietnam.

Panelists also spoke to the prevailing narratives and mindsets that shape how food systems operate, reflecting on the importance of being values-led and why having an inspirational vision of what is possible is central to catalyzing systems transformation. 

Reflecting on the dialogue, here are a few key quotes that stood out to me: 

  • “Food systems are complex but this complexity should not be used as an excuse for inaction!” Alwin Kopse, Deputy Assistant Director-General, Federal Office for Agriculture, Switzerland 
  • “We focus on changing systems, not treating symptoms.” Solomon Makuza, Executive Director, Gardens for Health International, Rwanda
  • “We must walk together towards a fairer and more equitable future.” Dr. Lorena Rodriguez, Professor, Escuela de Salud Pública, Universidad de Chile
  • “Very glad to hear you highlight VALUES as central to this transformative, systemic change towards more healthy diets and sustainable food production!” Chris Hegadorn, Secretary, Committee on World Food Security

Each of these insights carries a sense of urgency, calls on us to act together and to be led by systems-thinking and guiding principles. Indeed, time and time again during the session, panelists emphasized that coordinated action must be taken across sectors, supported by inclusive, meaningful multi-stakeholder dialogue and collaboration, especially in the context of the forthcoming UN Food Systems Summit and other critical, global political milestones in 2021.

If you want to find out more, you can: 

With special thanks to our partners in this event, without whom it wouldn’t have been possible: Food Foundation, Gardens for Health International, Healthcare Without Harm, Switzerland, UN Environment Programme, World Obesity Federation, and the World Health Organization.