What is your theory of change? According to the pioneering work of Jerald Hage, “successful evolution and transformation requires diversity integrated into a strongly connected and coordinated systemic network.” This is Hage’s conclusion of how change happens based on 50 years of work on innovation in social movements, and the private, public, nonprofit, and academic sectors.
If Hage is right, the Global Alliance made significant progress in 2017 in its mission to help transform food systems towards greater sustainability, security, and equity. We held our 2nd International Dialogue: The Future of Food in a Climate Changing World with more than 250 thought leaders from around the world. We commissioned Climate Change & Food Systems: Assessing Impacts and Opportunities from Meridian Institute, a team of multidisciplinary authors, and a diverse advisory committee. We established a Community of Practice on True Cost Accounting (TCA) for TCA practitioners from the local to the global. We published Unravelling the Food-Health Nexus authored by IPES-Food, highlighting the negative health impacts of food systems. And, we worked with a wide-ranging group of key experts to develop a Statement on Animal Agriculture Systems.
These are just a few of our efforts on food systems reform – all done with an eye to bringing diverse voices together, acknowledging difference, facilitating convergence around shared values, and coordinating action. We believe that transformational change requires that we craft new and better solutions at all scales through a systems-level approach and deep collaboration between philanthropy, researchers, grassroots movements, the private sector, farmers and food systems workers, Indigenous Peoples, government, and policymakers.
This approach will be a hallmark of our strategy moving forward into 2018 as we aim to: 1) forge new insights and strengthen evidence for global systems change; 2) convene key food-systems actors and facilitate meaningful dialogue; and, 3) stimulate local and global action in collaboration with other committed stakeholders towards realizing healthy, equitable, renewable, resilient, and culturally diverse food systems.
We will be particularly focused on: true cost accounting, including a strategic convening on the power and potential of TCA, the publication of the TEEBAgriFood Foundations Report, and the continuation of the TCA Community of Practice; agroecology, including a facilitated global dialogue on agricultural biodiversity and resilient seed systems centered on developing a shared action framework, and the publication of a much-anticipated “beacons of hope” report; and, health and wellbeing, including the development of a companion piece to the Unravelling the Food-Health Nexus report, focused on the positive health impacts and externalities of food systems.
It proves to be a busy, exciting, and crucial year for the future of food. Ensuring the sustainability, security, and equity of our food systems is one of the most defining issues of our time. For current and future generations, this is a shared responsibility upon which we, as a global community, simply must act to better understand the impacts of food systems, address the most harmful practices, and find new positive pathways forward. We know there are a host of others committed to the same ambitious goal. We want to work with you.
Here’s to transforming food systems together,