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Food Systems Summit

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The United Nations (UN) Food Systems Summit was held virtually during the UN General Assembly in New York on 23 September 2021. Recognising that too many of the world’s food systems are fragile, failing and in need of reform, the summit aimed to accelerate food systems transformation to deliver safe affordable nutrition for all by bringing together key players from the worlds of science, business, policy, healthcare and academia as well as farmers, indigenous people, youth organisations, consumer groups and environmental activists. A key message underpinning the summit was that healthier, more sustainable and equitable food systems are crucial to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals through the interconnectedness of food systems to face many global challenges such as hunger, climate change, poverty and inequality.

The summit itself was the culmination of 18 months of preparatory work conducted within the five Action Tracks that were established: 1) Ensure access to safe and nutritious foods for all, 2) Shift to sustainable consumption patterns, 3) Boost nature-positive production, 4) Advance equitable livelihoods and 5) Build resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stresses. Through a series of National Food Systems Summit Dialogues, Member States were supported to develop National Pathways for Food Systems Transformation that outlined clear visions of what governments, together with different stakeholders, expect of food systems by 2030. A Food Systems Champions Network was mobilised to support the generation of ideas, actions and sharing of information.

Importantly, the summit aimed to be a ‘people’s summit’ seeking to engage people from all walks of life as ‘food means something to everyone, and we all need to do our part’. In support of this, a digital Food Systems Community platform and Food Systems Hero platform have been created that outline the practical ways that people can act for better food systems moving forward e.g., hosting ‘Sustainable Sundays’ – a gathering with friends and family for a healthy climate-friendly meal each week.

Following the summit, country-led and individual commitments to action around the five focus areas have been consolidated in a Commitment Registry.  Further follow up and review mechanisms for accountability will be established. 

A Joint Statement by the UN Secretary General was released highlighting the complementary agendas of the UN Food Systems Summit and the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit held in December 2021. The statement outlines how the two summits are ‘working collaboratively to advance solutions across systems with a mutual recognition that malnutrition in all its forms is one of the biggest challenges we face to ensuring optimal health, resilience, and prosperity for all.’

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Food Systems Summit. Field Exchange 67, April 2022. p7. www.ennonline.net/fex/67/foodsystemssummit

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