Systems Thinking

Guiding principles for the future of food

At the Global Alliance for the Future of Food we believe in the urgency of transforming global food systems, and in the power of working together and with others to effect positive change. Our work is guided by a set of seven shared principles: renewability, resilience, equity, diversity, healthfulness, inclusion, and interconnectedness. These principles shape our vision of the future of food, express our values, and encompass the change we want to make.

Transforming our food systems is one of the most defining issues of our time. Profound changes in the way food is grown, gathered, processed, distributed, consumed, and wasted, threatens a future of food that is sustainable, equitable, and secure, particularly when coupled with climate change and shifting global economics, politics, and demographics. Transformational change at the scale and speed needed requires all actors to do their part. Business-as-usual is no longer an option: it will only continue to have more severe negative impacts environmentally (from increased GHG emissions to soil erosion and pollution), socially (from increased non-communicable diseases to eroding cultural traditions), and economically (from a decline in rural economies to the volatility of the global market).

Food systems transformation requires that we take a systems-level approach, encouraging collaboration between philanthropy, researchers, grassroots movements, the private sector, farmers and food systems workers, Indigenous Peoples, governments, and policymakers. For deep and lasting material and social change — in the global south and north — diverse interests need to come together to find common ground and more effectively identify and co-create needed solutions.

Taken together, the principles provide a powerful framework to make more informed, comprehensive, and principled decisions. They enable us to see the whole system in new ways, highlight multiple entry points for change, and help us to adapt to specific contexts with sensitivity. Crucially, they ensure that we avoid siloed interventions, unintended consequences, and short-term solutions.