More than 100 Countries Sign up to Develop National Strategies for Transforming Food Systems

April 27, 2021

Ahead of September’s Food Systems Summit, more than half of the UN’s Member States have pledged to host Dialogue events to begin conversations about improving food systems.

April 26 2021, Nairobi – More than 100 countries will be shaping their futures in the coming five months and developing pathways to the food systems they need, in line with the universally agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which set out expectations for the state of the world in 2030.

National governments around the world are organising Food Systems Summit Dialogues in the run up to the UN’s Food Systems Summit in September. The UN Secretary-General led Summit is the first of its kind. It is a unique opportunity to focus on how everyone in our world can eat food that is nutritious, produced in ways that are good for the planet, and continue to do so despite threats of climate change, infectious disease and violent conflict.

The Dialogues are organised by National Convenors – nominated by their government – who bring together the whole of government and involve all who have a stake in food systems. The Convenors include ministers responsible for agriculture, health and environment, as well as nutritionists, economists, ambassadors and, in one instance, a First Lady. The latest list is available on the Food Systems Summit Dialogues Gateway.

“The national Dialogues enable governments to engage a diverse range of key players in honest and courageous conversations about what needs to change and the level of interest is truly phenomenal. Member States are tapping into Independent and Global Dialogues alike and listening with interest and great intent about how we establish the future direction for food systems to achieve the SDGs,” said Dr. Agnes Kalibata, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the 2021 Food Systems Summit.

“These Dialogues are breaking down barriers and putting food systems and people at the center of everything we are doing. They are helping different groups to identify leverage points and rally around ambitious action to end hunger and improve livelihoods while averting the climate catastrophe that we are facing, which is all the more important in the light of COVID-19 and pandemic recovery. We must lean into our hopes and work together in ambitious ways to put the world on a better path.”

The Dialogues will shape national pathways to food systems that are sustainable and equitable. They provide opportunities for many of the people who work in food systems – across the public sector, private sector and civil society – to identify priorities, pursue opportunities and solutions.

The results of the Dialogues link existing national policies and initiatives to the priorities of stakeholders, as well as to wider agendas and policies that link groups of nations together. The first round of feedback from national Dialogues is already providing a basis for governments to share perspectives on what needs to change now. Feedback is summarised in synthesis reports that are released at intervals and offer valuable input for the Summit engagement process.

“I’m massively inspired by the interest of so many governments to establish these Dialogues and to demonstrate leadership on food systems despite all the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. David Nabarro, Senior Advisor to the Special Envoy for the Summit Dialogues.

“In the face of tremendous restrictions and multiple anxieties, people everywhere are connecting to, hearing and supporting one another with a common objective: achieve the SDGs through concerted efforts to shift food systems so they are great for people and for the planet.”

In-country UN Resident Coordinators, working closely with colleagues across the UN system, help national Dialogue Convenors to ensure there is a wide range of perspectives included. In some countries, regional institutions (including the African Union Development Agency, AUDA) are offering support so that specific regional priorities are emphasised.

Many multi-country initiatives, organizations and groups of farmers, consumers, indigenous peoples, women’s and youth groups, as well as groups focusing on the realization of the right to food, are active in supporting the in-country Dialogues.

National Dialogues are complemented by a growing number of Independent Dialogues, which give citizens around the world a chance to contribute directly to the Summit’s ambitious vision and objectives. More than 240 Independent Dialogues are already registered to take place in more than 60 countries.

The outcomes of the Member State and Independent Dialogues are presented in publicly available synthesis reports in advance of, and after, the Summit. The Summit expects that each of these Dialogues will help countries and communities develop context-specific food systems transformation pathways to achieve the SDGs by 2030 and use the Summit moment to start scaling up action.

About the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit

The UN Food Systems Summit was announced by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on World Food Day last October as a part of the Decade of Action for delivery on the SDGs by 2030. The aim of the Summit is to deliver progress on all 17 of the SDGs through a food systems approach, leveraging the interconnectedness of food systems to global challenges such as hunger, climate change, poverty and inequality. More information about the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit and list of Advisory Committee and Scientific Group members can be found here