Blogs, Systems Thinking

A year of hope ahead: Accelerating transformational change in 2023

Just a month into 2023, I’m already inspired by conversations with Global Alliance members and partners to fine-tune our plans for the year ahead. This process of sharing strategies and priorities has brought a renewed sense of purpose and focus to our collective work transforming food systems.

2023 will bring both opportunities and challenges. There is the UN Food Systems Summit and Paris Agreement stocktakes—moments to note progress and assess what more must be done. High food prices continue to strain people globally, as do nationalist challenges to international cooperation. Genuine food systems transformation requires a diverse set of actions, networks, and sectors. Global Alliance priorities for the year reflect the critical importance of advancing more sustainable, resilient, and equitable food systems as a global community.

Building momentum for climate, nature, biodiversity and food 

The Global Alliance capped off 2022 with advocacy at international events. At COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, we championed the importance of food systems transformation in meeting global climate targets. With the support of our philanthropic network, we were able to sponsor the attendance of 30 grassroots food systems leaders from across Africa and around the world. A few weeks later myself and Global Alliance partners convened in Montreal, Canada, for the UN biodiversity summit (COP15). Together, we compelled people to recognize food systems as the main driver of biodiversity loss

Encouragingly, food systems considerations are finally starting to be acknowledged in climate and nature spaces. 

The UN biodiversity summit held its first-ever Agriculture Day, and food and agriculture featured on the final COP27 cover text—a strong signal that food systems are high on the political agenda. Meanwhile, climate influencers mobilized around a compelling statistic from a recent Global Alliance report which found that food systems receive only 3% of public climate finance, despite being responsible for one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. 

In 2023 we will continue to focus on how to shift finance into food systems. We are developing longer-term strategies to link climate, nature, and food agendas; elevating evidence that demonstrates how biodiverse agroecology and regenerative food systems are solutions to our most pressing problems. 

Connecting aquatic and land-based food systems work

Aquatic foods are increasingly recognized as a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to food security, nutrition, livelihoods, and the protection of our planet. 

But aquatic foods and ecosystems have traditionally been overlooked by food systems actors. That is true of the Global Alliance’s work to date, which for 10 years has focused on land-based agriculture and food systems. 

These conversations are just beginning, but I’m looking forward to building strong relationships with those working on aquatic food and fisheries issues. A holistic approach to transformation means including all food systems. This new work around the connection between aquatic-terrestrial foods is an exciting opportunity to learn from and build on the knowledge of our partners, fisherfolk, and communities already working in this space. 

Deepening our work on justice, equity, and philanthropy

Finally, in the year ahead the Global Alliance will take forward its efforts around decolonizing food systems and addressing justice and equity issues that hold back deeper structural transformation. As a global network with a huge amount of privilege and power, we see the need to make resources available to farmers, women, Indigenous peoples, and other groups whose perspectives are often unheard of or disregarded. This work is of particular interest to me and I expanded on our approach in this Alliance Magazine piece

In 2023 we will convene a group of diverse partners to continue the dialogue started in our Politics of Knowledge compendium. These discussions will shape the Global Alliance’s strategic direction for systems-based research and will guide our overall efforts to decolonize knowledge, evidence, and investments. I’m looking forward to attending the International Funders for Indigenous People’s conference in February where I expect to deepen my understanding of these issues. 

These are just a few of the opportunities I’m looking forward to advancing in 2023, but we know this can’t be done alone. Genuine food systems transformation needs diverse actions, networks, and individuals connecting across the sector and issue silos, the global and local, the macro and the micro. Convergence and action are critical to building momentum for food systems transformation.

– Ends

Lauren Baker
Deputy Director