Press Releases, Health




  • Urgent case for reforming industrialized food systems can be made on the grounds of protecting health, and leaders know it
  • National governments called to radically change approach to policy and practice, building resilience and improving food security outcomes post-COVID-19
  • Case studies from around the world show that the best recipe for impact is the combination of collaboration across food systems stakeholders and clear leadership from governments
  • New suite of recommendations focus on vision and leadership, governance, fiscal incentives, education, collaboration, research, and innovation

Wednesday, 14 October 2020 — Today the Global Alliance for the Future of Food launches Systemic Solutions for Healthy Food Systems, a guide for governments to take action for better food systems that promote human, ecological, and animal health and well-being. Supported by a set of case studies from different countries, cultures, and contexts, the Guide provides 14 recommendations to tackle the interconnectedness of food systems through policy and practice. Developed with UK consultancy Tasting the Future, the launch coincides with the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) High-Level Special Event on Global Governance of Food Security and Nutrition.

COVID-19 recovery and stimulus packages give governments the perfect opportunity now to radically change and to show real leadership through integrated and inclusive approaches to food policies: the recommendations suggest they commit to stricter governance, to health-promoting fiscal measures, and to greater focus on research and innovation. Supporting these views are the international case studies included in the new Guide’s companion publication, Systemic Solutions for Healthy Food Systems – Approaches to Policy & Practice. Examples of collaboration between national governments, food producers, community groups, businesses, researchers, investors, and civil society organizations include, organic agriculture subsidies in Germany, food security policies in France, consumer information law in Chile, soil health success stories in China, and nutrition programs in Rwanda.

With a call to move away from a productivist “feed the world” narrative towards prioritizing human, ecological, and animal health and well-being, the Guide advocates for greater government intervention and leadership in a context of collaboration and deeper dialogue. These new materials complement the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition being finalized by the CFS, build on The Lancet Commission on the Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition and Climate Change and the WHO’s Manifesto for Health Recovery from COVID-19,  and are increasingly important ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit, Nutrition for Growth Summit, as well as the UNFCCC COP26 and CBD COP15 in 2021.

Ruth Richardson, Executive Director, Global Alliance for the Future of Food: “An urgent case for reforming industrialized food and farming systems can be made on the grounds of protecting health, and leaders know it. COVID-19 is yet another validation of what happens when we ignore the health-food nexus. It’s time national governments rise up to the challenge of truly transforming our food systems with tangible, bold action for long-term impact. In this guide we have brilliant examples of how this can be done – with financial acumen and an eye to the beautifully diverse communities we live in.”

Dr. Francesco Branca, Director, Department of Nutrition and Food Safety, World Health Organization: “I welcome the publication of this guide for governments urging and nudging them to take leadership and action for realizing healthy food systems. The guide’s proposed recommendations well align with WHO’s vision and work to transform food systems to ensure healthy, safe, affordable and sustainable diets for all. The case studies are useful to convince others that we can indeed realize this vision.”

Mark Driscoll, Founder and Director, Tasting the Future“2021 will be a critical year for the health and well-being of people and planet. The UN Food Systems Summit, COP26 and COP15 are crucial opportunities to transform how we grow, harvest, distribute, market, eat, and dispose of food which will, in turn, enable us to tackle the root causes of malnutrition, climate change, and biodiversity loss. With these new recommendations in hand, politicians and policymakers have a blueprint to develop the integrated policies that are so desperately needed at this time.”

Shalmali Guttal, Executive Director, Focus on the Global South“The industrial food system is built on the exploitation of people, animals, and nature. Reform of this system is not enough to deliver on goals of sustainability, health and well-being. What is needed is radical transformation of the industrial food system, guided by human rights, agroecology, and public interest. The power of corporations over financing, production, markets, research, technology, standard-setting, and consumer behavior must be dismantled. Governments can do this with appropriate public policies and measures if they so choose.”

As part of the CFS High-Level Special Event, the Global Alliance for the Future of Food will host Food Systems Fit for Purpose: Bold Leadership to Prioritize Human, Animal, and Ecological Health on 14 October, 11-12.30 CET. Delivered in partnership with the Food Foundation, Gardens for Health International, Healthcare Without Harm, Switzerland, UN Environment Programme, World Obesity Federation, and the World Health Organization, this event will bring together a broad range of stakeholders to discuss the need for a new narrative and action around systemic solutions for global food systems.

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About the Global Alliance for the Future of Food: The Global Alliance for the Future of Food is a strategic alliance of philanthropic foundations working together and with others to transform global food systems now and for future generations. We believe in the urgency of transforming global food systems, and in the power of working together and with others to effect positive change. Food systems reform requires new and better solutions at all scales through a systems-level approach and deep collaboration among philanthropy, researchers, grassroots movements, the private sector, farmers and food systems workers, Indigenous Peoples, government, and policymakers.


  1. Take an integrated and inclusive approach
  2. Set health-based goals and targets
  3. Implement mandatory health impact assessment on food policies
  4. Use multiple, diverse policies
  5. Leverage agricultural subsidies
  6. Facilitate affordability of health-promoting foods
  7. Run health and food safety assessments of international trade agreements and policies
  8. Support local and small entities
  9. Develop sustainable dietary guidelines (FBSDGs) and ensure public food procurement standards align with them
  10. Foster ecological, food, and health literacy 
  11. Invest in public health research and innovation
  12. Put the precautionary principle at the heart of the research and innovation agenda
  13. Promote dialogue and collaboration
  14. Support and commit to international action frameworks