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المنتدى العالمي المعني بالأمن الغذائي والتغذية

Re: Towards a common understanding of Sustainable Food Systems

Florence Egal
Florence EgalFood Security and Nutrition expertItaly

First of all, congratulations for a  huge undertaking. A few points/comments (which I would be happy to clarify further):

A. I would suggest that sustainable diets be used as an entry point to discuss sustainable food systems. People do not eat commodities, and value chains only contribute to specific elements of a diet. We certainly need to have more sustainable value chains but only once we have a clear understanding of what should be a locally appropriate sustainable – and therefore seasonal - diet.

Traditional diets were traditionally associated to a large extent with local food systems, this is not the case any longer given the growing disconnect generated by the commodification and standardization of foods and the bias towards international trade. In that perspective, the reference to the Mediterranean diet is well appreciated but reflects traditional food systems in the Mediterranean bioregion (see below). Nordic chefs tried to adapt it and ended up with the new Nordic cuisine. The traditional Corean diet is the basis for healthy diets in Seoul, etc… It is important to understand indigenous diets (and related food systems, see <>) and revisit them on the basis of relevant scientific knowledge.

B Territorial approaches are mentioned in the paper. They are well suited to operationalize complex concepts such as sustainability (which brings together economic, social and environmental dimensions). This should therefore come much earlier in the draft. Maybe this document could be of use? <>

The role of cities in driving territorial food systems and the need to improve urban-rural linkages are important dimensions of territorial approaches.

The paper refers to agroecological zones. We may want to add the concept of bioregions (A bioregion is a land and water territory whose limits are defined not by political boundaries, but by the geographical limits of human communities and ecological systems), which also brings in the human dimension. Interesting food system research (including prospective studies) use this concept as a basis, e.g. <>. Bioregions are usually subnational and often cross-border) which emphasizes the importance of local food governance.

C. Social sustainability should not be limited to « broad-based benefits for society ». it should not undermine culture, and should build upon social structures and traditional solidarity mechanisms. It would be important to further emphasize participation of people and institutions and give more attention to human rights (including the right to food, which provides a solid conceptual basis for social sustainability of food systems). We could also refer to the Agenda 2030 slogan « Leave no one behind »

On Fig 2 , any way we could have eco-social development at the top for a change? :-)

The paper refers to « traditional power dynamics » p. 14 . The word “traditional” may need to be clarified. Are we talking of political economy?

P. 41 on research and innovation, I am surprised there is no reference to the IPES-food work – in particular <> Priority should be given to generation and sharing of practice-based evidence, through knowledge management of promising practices and research action.

A precondition for sustainable food system is the revision of the legal and regulatory framework to provide an enabling environment. This dimension is missing.

The reference to urban and periurban agriculture (UPA) should be framed within an urban food system framework. Its role should not be limited either to food production since it usually also plays important social and environment roles.

I may have missed it but did not find in the sources any reference to the IPES-food work? <>