SE054 Moving toward Integrated Food Policies: Reviewing lessons learnt from Europe and Brazil, and assessing emerging opportunities in Africa and the USA


  • International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food)
  • Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA)
  • Brazil
  • Netherlands

Today's food systems have succeeded in producing large volumes of food, but at the cost of widespread degradation of land, water, and ecosystems, high greenhouse gas emissions, rising obesity, livelihood stresses for farmers, and persistent hunger and malnutrition. The spiraling human, economic, social, and environmental impacts reflect a failure of food system governance. The policies affecting food systems (e.g. agriculture, fisheries, environment, development, health, trade, energy, research, market regulation, welfare, education, transport, etc.) often conflict with one another, leading to costly inefficiencies and a failure to meet stated objectives.

Disconnects between different levels of governance (e.g. local, regional, and national) also hold back our ability to promote, scale out, and learn from local food system initiatives. Integrated Food Policies have the potential to address these problems by increasing coherence, coordination, and synergies between the various sectoral policies that affect food production, processing, distribution, and consumption, and by refocusing all actions on delivering food security for all and sparking a transition to sustainability. In other words, Integrated Food Policies are essential to achieving SDG2 and a range of other SDGs.

The session will draw lessons from IPES-Food's "EU Common Food Policy" process (2016-2019), which brought together 400 food system actors to co-develop an EU food policy blueprint, as well as from Brazil’s food and nutrition security strategies. The session will also explore opportunities for developing Integrated Food Policies in Africa and the USA.

Key speakers/presenters


  • Olivia Yambi (IPES-Food, Co-chair)


  • Nick Jacobs (IPES-Food, Director)
  • Million Belay (AFSA, Coordinator)
  • Molly Anderson (IPES-Food, Panel Member)
  • Gisele Ane Bortolini (Brazilian Ministry of Health, Coordinator)
  • Hans Hoogeveen (Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to UN FAO) 

Main themes/issues discussed  

This side event discussed the opportunities that Integrated Food Policies provide in the pursuit of sustainable food systems. The discussion was based on lessons learned from the EU Common Food Policy process, led by IPES-Food with the help of 400 food system actors. Experiences of food and nutrition strategies from the Netherlands and Brazil were shared, while the event also explored  the potential for developing integrated food policies in Africa and the US. Looking to inspire actors from all levels and sectors to think systematically, the side event emphasized the power of cross-sectoral approaches to spark transition and address sustainability challenges in food systems.

Summary of key points 

Ambassador Hans Hoogeven started by calling urgent attention to food insecurity around the world, and highlighting the potential of food policies to meet the challenge. 

To illustrate this point, Nick Jacobs (Director, IPES-Food) highlighted the disconnects between current EU policies, and presented the Common Food Policy blueprint developed by IPES-Food. With 84 short-/medium-/ long-term proposals, including governance reforms, the blueprint provides systemic and interconnected solutions to food system challenges.

AFSA’s Million Belay explained that comprehensive food policies are also required in Africa, given the inability of current agricultural guidelines and policies to provide a concrete response to nutrition, health and sustainability challenges. He announced AFSA’s plans to develop an ‘African Food Policy’ over the next 4 years, under the auspices of the African Union.

Molly Anderson then made the case for a US food policy, arguing that it is required to provide a systemic response to diverse challenges the US is currently facing (obesity, climate change, dependence on fossil fuels…) that are not addressed by current federal policies.

Finally, Gisele Bortolini referred to the Brazilian experience to underline the need to coordinate and harmonize policies in different fields to build coherent and healthier food systems. 

Key take away messages 

Participants recognized the value of participatory policy development processes and the value of comprehensive, system-wide reform visions. Success in one region could inspire food policy experimentation at various levels. The urgency of change should be balanced with the crucial need to ensure broad participation. They also emphasized the fact that food system reform must openly confront issues of justice, equity and equality: people need to see that a sustainable food policy can speak to their problems and address multiple injustices. The need to work with the private sector and bring political and financial capital to food systems was also underlined.

CFS 46 Side Event: SE054 Moving toward Integrated Food Policies: Reviewing lessons learnt from Europe and Brazil, and assessing emerging opportunities in Africa and the USA.


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