Multi-stakeholder programme for sustainable food system transformation holds first conference

There seems to be so many food sustainability initiatives these days it’s hard to keep up let alone know if they are effective.

One to watch – which has now been running a little over a year – is The Sustainable Food Systems (SFS) Programme. The SFS is one of the six thematic programmes of the United Nations 10-Year Framework for Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP) – I know, quite a mouthful.

The SFS Programme, ‘officially’ launched after a bit of a delay on April 25th 2016 (although it came into being on October 2015) recently held its first global conference in Pretoria, South Africa (June 21st-23rd) on the theme of catalysing change through multi-stakeholder action.

The conference was seen as an opportunity to provide a forum for active African expert participation and to help give some traction for African initiatives aimed at moving towards more sustainable food systems. One of the outcomes identified by the conference was the need to expand the SFS Programme to achieve a more balanced representation of stakeholders especially from Africa as well as from Asia.

While the conference drew some important, but fairly self-evident conclusions – such as addressing food losses and waste – it also tackled what is a very tricky issue in the whole food sustainability debate: how to shift towards sustainable diets and what this means for food system transformation. Another interesting conclusion from the conference was the need for investments that: “truly reflect the values and needs of producers, local communities and consumers”.

About the Sustainable Food Systems Programme

The SFS Programme has been set up with a focus on five core themes, these are:

  • Sustainable diets
  • Sustainability along all food value chains
  • Reduction of food losses and waste
  • Local, national, regional multi-stakeholder platforms, and
  • Resilient, inclusive, diverse food production systems.

The SFS Programme is co-led by South Africa, Switzerland, Hivos and WWF and supported by a 23-member Multi-stakeholder Advisory Committee. This include a small number of business stakeholders, namely – the Barilla Foundation, FoodDrinkEurope, Nestlé, and Dutch company Smaackmakers. It will be interesting to follow what the SFS Programme can achieve in practice.