News, Systems Thinking


Ruth Richardson, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, has been appointed Chair of the Multi-Actor Food Systems Champions Network for the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit. Known as the Champions Network, the multi-actor network will be responsible for providing counsel to the Action Tracks by identifying gaps and key issues, participating in the country-level food systems dialogues, activating the power of their networks to generate inputs into the Summit, and more.

Since 2012, the Global Alliance has convened diverse agents of change – the scientific community, grassroots movements, policymakers, farmers, the private sector, Indigenous Peoples, and others – who are committed to systems transformation, so that, together, we can better understand the system, co-create solutions, and inform action within our respective constituencies. With a focus on facilitating meaningful and actionable dialogue, it has been our privilege and responsibility to bring together diverse perspectives, catalyze networks, and help to build critical mass around a vision of food systems that are renewable, healthy, equitable, resilient, diverse, inclusive, and interconnected. This is our Theory of Transformation. It is the basis for our involvement in the Summit.

Ruth Richardson is stepping into this role today supported by a diverse network of Vice-Chairs in representative seats:

  • Vice-Chair – Indigenous Peoples: Jessica Vega Ortega, Coordinator, Global Indigenous Youth Caucus, Mexico (Central America)
  • Vice-Chair – Youth: Marie-Claire Graf, Global Focal Point of the UNFCCC Youth Constituency, Switzerland (Europe)
  • Vice-Chair – Production: Dr. Vijay Kumar Thallam, Rythu Sadhikara Samstha (Farmers’ empowerment corporation) – India (Asia)
  • Vice-Chair – Consumption: Paul Newnham, Director, SDG2 Advocacy Hub Secretariat and Coordinator, Chefs’ Manifesto, Australia (Oceania)
  • Vice-Chair – Private Sector: Rick White, Chair, Committee on World Food Security (CFS), Private Sector Mechanism, Canada (North America)
  • Vice-Chair – Research: Claudia Martínez Zuleta, Co-chair of the country programs of the Food and Land Use Economy (FOLU), Colombia (South America)
  • Vice-Chair – Women: Dr. Bettina Prato, Coordinator, Smallholder and Agri-SME Finance and Investment Network (SAFIN), Italy (Europe)
  • Vice-Chair – Finance: Naoko Ishii, Executive Vice President, Director for Center for Global Commons, the University of Tokyo, Japan (Asia).

Next steps
In this role, the Global Alliance will:

  • Champion diverse evidence and inclusive representation throughout the process, acting in line with our guiding principles. This includes the meaningful participation and appointment of civil society organizations to leadership roles, helping to connect and align multiple, diverse agendas.
  • Meaningfully engage the network of champions, utilizing Blue Marble Evaluation practices to connect global with the local: surfacing priorities and recommendations, identifying tensions and pathways to change.
  • Support, inspire, and catalyze a network of networks around the case for food systems transformation. This involves encouraging and hosting convenings, facilitating dialogues across sectors and silos, sharing tools for change, and more.
  • Strengthen the role of the champions within the Summit structures, engaging with leads of the: Action Tracks, Levers of Change, Advisory Committee, and others.
  • Champion systems-thinking from start to finish. This involves highlighting that food systems are the nexus where critical global issues — such as climate, public health, malnutrition, hunger, human rights, livelihoods, and more — intersect.

Part of a wider strategy
As a network of philanthropies, we do not purport to represent anyone other than the Global Alliance membership. We are engaging in this process on the mandate as set out by our members. Our mission is to leverage our resources and networks to help transform food systems towards greater sustainability, security, and equity.

Recognizing that no global process is without fault, and that transformation is not a project nor the responsibility of any individual or entity, the Global Alliance will continue to advocate for transformational change that is renewable, healthy, equitable, resilient, diverse, inclusive, and interconnected. We will do so through a variety of means and in different fora and locations, acknowledging that transformation requires multiple interventions and actions on many fronts undertaken by diverse but interconnected actors. In particular, the Global Alliance will continue to push for seven bold calls to action as critical pathways to transformation through a series of convenings, research efforts and communications campaigns.

For questions or comment: Kasia Murphy /


** Ruth Richardson was the Executive Director of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food between 2012-2022. **