News, Systems Thinking

SEVEN CALLS TO ACTION: INGREDIENTS OF FOOD SYSTEMS TRANSFORMATION

Each of the Calls to Action address the critical underlying structures that hold back much-needed systems transformation.

29 June 2021

There can be little doubt that ensuring the sustainability, security, and equity of our food systems is quickly becoming one of the most defining issues of our time. Elevated time and again by our members, partners, allies, and those we have collaborated with over the last eight years, these seven Calls to Action address the critical underlying structures that hold back much-needed systems transformation.

In the process of developing them, we drew on the outcomes of all of our international dialogues, large and small, that we’ve held since 2012 and on the following global reports: Synthesis of Global Reports, Beacons of Hope, Seeds of Resilience, Climate Change and Food Systems Report, Food-Health Nexus Report, TEEBAgriFood, and others. Each of the following statements is underpinned by a commitment to food systems thinking as a prerequisite for action and acting on our principles:

1) Ensure participatory, integrated, rights-based approaches to governance at all levels in order to address the structural inequities in food systems. Build processes and policy platforms on principles of transparency, inclusive participation, and shared power. This will ensure policies are driven not only by evidence, but also ethics and public interest. 

2) Increase research in systems-based approaches, with an emphasis on indivisible ecological, health, social, and economic goals. Recognize and learn from diverse knowledge systems and ways of knowing, including Indigenous Peoples and farmers who have long recognized the interconnectedness between our food systems, health, and the planet. This holistic, trans-disciplinary, and inclusive understanding of food systems impact is essential for the public good. 

3) Recognize the environmental, social, and health impacts of food systems policies and practices, and use this understanding to inform decision-making. Mainstream and strengthen True Cost Accounting and other impact assessment tools and methodologies to mitigate risk and increase accountability. These approaches will provide transparent, consistent guidance for governments, investors, farmers, corporations, and other stakeholders. 

4) Direct public sector finance and fiscal policy towards regenerative and ecologically-beneficial forms of farming, healthy food, and resilient livelihoods and communities. Break from harmful subsidy and incentive programs, initiating well-designed and durable reforms through collaborations between governments, farmers, banks and corporations, researchers, and other stakeholders.

5) Unlock investment opportunities in sustainable food systems and align private, philanthropic, and multilateral funders with national actors for greater impact. Redirect financial flows of philanthropy, investors, banks, and donor agencies away from harmful practices and towards initiatives that are incentivizing, accelerating, and amplifying food systems transformations. 

6) Create enabling environments for agroecology and regenerative approaches to flourish. Ensure a systems approach centering on a strong role for local institutions, communities, smallholder farmers, Indigenous Peoples, and women, the protection and expansion of rights, policy coherence and coordinated governance, research mobilization, plus investment and funding for infrastructure (like roads, schools, markets). 

7) Promote nutritious, whole-food diets underpinned by sustainable, diversified food production adapted to local ecosystems and socio-cultural contexts. Create positive food environments that provide equitable access, dietary guidance, and controls on ultra-processed foods. These approaches will support dietary shifts towards whole-foods and sustainable, minimally processed plant-based, animal and aquatic proteins, particularly where meat and saturated fat consumption is high or growing at levels that risk human and/or planetary health.

As a result of this process, the calls to action will:

– Be utilized by the Global Alliance to advocate for global food systems transformation at the international level;
– Inform the Global Alliance members’ actions and activities at the local, regional, national, and international levels; and
– Highlight alignment with the actions and activities of other groups with whom we can coordinate strategic messaging.