The 2021 UN Food Systems Summit (Food Systems Summit: FSS) aims to raise global awareness and work together to change the way we think about, produce and consume food. It will bring together key players from the worlds of science, business and politics, with scientists, farmers, consumers, environmental activists and all key stakeholders. The FSS is a people's summit and a summit of innovative and bold solutions to combat the burden of malnutrition (hunger, micronutrient deficiencies, excess weight and obesity) and to protect the environment and the climate.
The term 'food system' refers to the constellation of activities involved in producing, processing, transporting and consuming food.
A multi-actor and multi-scale process
Governments, citizens – everyone involved!
The Summit aims to generate a vast range of discussions among as many stakeholders as possible, based on several principles, including respect for local cultures and contexts, consideration of the complexity of the issues, and complementarity with other initiatives carried out at the international level.
The Summit develops a standardised approach with three types of Dialogues:
- A Member State Summit Dialogue organised by governments with stakeholders, under the aegis of a designated coordinator. It should result in "national pathways" supported by a wide range of stakeholders.
- A Global Summit Dialogue co-organised by the Summit's Special Envoy, Agnès Kalibata, to address the issue of food systems in a range of major thematic events on climate, biodiversity and more.
- An Independent Summit Dialogue organised by individuals or communities based on a guide available on the Summit web site.
Today in the world: 305 Member State Summit Dialogues, 4 Inter-State Summit Dialogues, 8 Global Summit Dialogues, 560 Independent Summit Dialogues
Through these extensive exchanges, the Summit aims to identify initiatives at all levels to produce concrete measures and support the implementation of reforms. It will establish a system to monitor achievements in each country.
Changing how we produce, treat, process and consume food seems to be a lever to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. These 17 SDGs, established in 2015 for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, call for action from all countries – developed and developing – in order to promote prosperity while protecting the planet.
The design and implementation of the Summit is supported throughout the process by several bodies including a scientific panel of 29 independent experts. Jean-François Soussana, INRAE's Vice President of international policy is an expert on the panel.
Jean-François Soussana, INRAE's Vice President of international policy and IPCC expert, Jean-François Soussana will provide his expertise on the relations between agriculture, food, climate change and natural resources.
Through monthly meetings held since July 2020, this panel has gathered scientific summary reports and analyses on ongoing initiatives in the framework of, among others, the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and the UN system (the UN and all its programmes, funds and specialised agencies). The Scientific Panel ensures the reliability, representativeness and independence of the scientific data on which the Summit and its products are based. Among the many reports prepared by this panel, Jean-François Soussana (INRAE) and Sheryl Brook (UNESP, Brazil) coordinated the drafting of a background paper (available in English only) to carry out the first Action Track of the summit: The aim is to "ensure access to safe and nutritious food for all through the transformation of food systems".
The goal of "Healthy and sustainable food for all" requires an integrative approach between agriculture-food-environment, which corresponds to INRAE's scientific strategy for 2030. Indeed, sustainability must be designed and applied at every stage of the food chain: a socially, economically and environmentally multi-performing agriculture; the reduction of resource loss and waste; varied, balanced and safe diets; producers who enjoy a decent standard of living; preserved ecosystems, and resistance to climatic and health upheavals. INRAE promotes the need for a transition of agricultural and food systems, combining the principles of agroecology with technical and social innovation such as digital agriculture and biotechnology. The Institute is developing its research strategy through major projects that fall within the 5 Action Tracks of the Summit.
The 2021 UN Food Systems Summit (FSS) is an ongoing international reflection process, with a few key milestones:
- 6 July: Independent Dialogue on "Strengthening international research cooperation on food systems co-organised by INRAE and UNESP (Brazil) as part of the Science Days programme.
- 8-9 July: UN Food Systems Summit Science Days, organised by the Scientific Committee and the FAO, with J-F Soussana.
- 26-28 July 2021: Pre-Summit on Food Systems held in Rome in a hybrid format. A limited number of delegates will attend face-to-face events at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) headquarters in Rome. All interested parties are invited and encouraged to follow and participate virtually in the activities of the event.
- 23 September 2021, New York: UN Food Systems Summit.