The UN Food System 2021

What is Sustainable Food System?

A Sustainable Food System (SFS) is a food system that delivers food security and nutrition for all in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrition for future generations are not compromised. This means that: – It is profitable throughout (economic sustainability); – It has broad-based benefits for society (social sustainability); and – It has a positive or neutral impact on the natural environment (environmental sustainability).

A sustainable food system lies at the heart of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Adopted in 2015, the SDGs call for major transformations in agriculture and food systems in order to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition by 2030.

To realize the SDGs, the global food system needs to be reshaped to be more productive, more inclusive of poor and marginalized populations, environmentally sustainable and resilient, and able to deliver healthy and nutritious diets to all.

These are complex and systemic challenges that require the combination of interconnected actions at the local, national, regional and global levels.


What’s the UN Food System Summit 2021?

In 2021, UN Secretary-General Antoフ]io Guterres will convene a Food Systems Summit as part of the Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The Summit will launch bold new actions to deliver progress on all 17 SDGs, each of which relies to some degree on healthier, more sustainable and equitable food systems.

“Transforming food systems is crucial for delivering all the Sustainable Development Goals.” ––ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, UN Secretary-General

The Summit will awaken the world to the fact that we all must work together to transform the way the world produces, consumes and thinks about food. It is a summit for everyone everywhere – a people’s summit. It is also a solutions summit that will require everyone to take action to transform the world’s food systems.

“We believe in a world where healthy, sustainable and inclusive food systems allow people and planet to thrive. It is a world without poverty or hunger, a world of inclusive growth, environmental sustainability and social justice. It is a resilient world where no one is left behind.”––AGNES KALIBATA, Special Envoy for the UN Food Systems Summit

Guided by five Action Tracks, the Summit will bring together key players from the worlds of science, business, policy, healthcare and academia, as well as farmers, indigenous people, youth organizations, consumer groups, environmental activists, and other key stakeholders. Before, during and after the Summit, these actors will come together to bring about tangible, positive changes to the world’s food systems.



Why is it important?

Transforming our food systems is among the most powerful way to change course and make progress towards all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Too many of the world’s food systems are fragile, unexamined and vulnerable to collapse, as millions of people around the globe have experienced first-hand during the COVID-19 crisis.

The world produces more food than ever; and around 1 billion tonnes of food goes to waste every year. However, even in this, hunger continues to be a global menace with more than 820 million people having insufficient to eat. In the interim, two billion men, women and children are suffering obesity due to unhealthy diets, hence, high risk of diseases and even death.

It is time to change our production and consumption ways, striving to reduce greenhouse gases (emissions) as the climate emergency has a direct and rising threat to food security.

For that matter, the following is envisaged in 2021 Food Systems Summit as a part of the Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs:

  1. Ensuring access to safe and nutritious food for all(enabling all people to be nourished and healthy, progressive realization of the right to food)
  2. Shifting to sustainable consumption patterns(promoting and creating demand for healthy and sustainable diets, reducing waste)
  • Boosting nature-positive production at sufficient scale(acting on climate change, reducing emissions and increasing carbon capture, regenerating and protecting critical ecosystems and reducing food loss and energy usage, without undermining health or nutritious diets)
  1. Advancing equitable livelihoods and value distribution (raising incomes, distributing risk, expanding inclusion, promote full and productive employment and decent work for all)
  2. Building resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stress(ensuring the continued functionality of healthy and sustainable food systems)

“As a human family, a world-free of hunger is our imperative.”- ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, UN Secretary-General.


PanAAC Regional Dialogues on UNFSS

PanAAC in the spirit of Systems and Cooperation as the Bedrock for a Sustainable Future has joined in the dialogue with UNFSS. In its view, PanAAC keenly observes how the double crises of COVID-19 and climate change mean that food systems should be at the center of the national and international agendas. PanAAC will also be hosting African Agribusiness SME dialogues both sub and regional.




What is the future of Food systems?

In order to be sustainable, the development of the food system needs to generate positive value along three dimensions simultaneously: economic, social and environmental.

On the economic dimension, a food system is considered sustainable if the activities conducted by each food system actor or support service provider are commercially or fiscally viable. The activities should generate benefits, or economic value-added, for all categories of stakeholders: wages for workers, taxes for governments, profits for enterprises, and food supply improvements for consumers.

On the social dimension, a food system is considered sustainable when there is equity in the distribution of the economic value-added, taking into account vulnerable groups categorized by gender, age, race and so on. Of fundamental importance, food system activities need to contribute to the advancement of important socio-cultural outcomes, such as nutrition and health, traditions, labour conditions, and animal welfare.

On the environmental dimension, sustainability is determined by ensuring that the impacts of food system activities on the surrounding natural environment are neutral or positive, taking into consideration biodiversity, water, soil, animal and plant health, the carbon footprint, the water footprint, food loss and waste, and toxicity.