FAO Liaison Office with the European Union and the Kingdom of Belgium

Territorial Food Systems and Healthy Diets: a pathway to global transformation


The use of territorial approaches to promote sustainable food systems and strong governance was one of the main topics covered in a discussion organized by the FAO Liaison Office in Brussels and the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The exchange of ideas took place in the context of the European preparation for the upcoming United Nations Food Systems Summit. Topics covered during the event also included the ongoing decentralization process in Africa. The Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP) provided examples of the territorial approach and discussed practices in the field, developed in cooperation with FAO.

The event was moderated by Member of the European Parliament and of the European Parliamentary Alliance against Hunger and Malnutrition, Isabel Carvalhais and gathered representatives from FAO, the EU and African Union Commission, the Italian G20 Presidency, and various non-state actors.

In his opening remarks, FAO Brussels Director Rodrigo de Lapuerta noted that “there is no time to waste in addressing and transforming our food systems to protect our planet while improving our lives and livelihoods.”

His statement was followed by comments from Portuguese Ministry of Agriculture Deputy Director-General for Planning and Policy, Bruno Dimas, who emphasized the Portuguese Presidency’s priority “to join the global effort in the realization of Agenda 2030 and to contribute to a successful UN Food Systems Summit.”

As the first panelist to intervene, EU Commission Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA) Head of Unit for Sustainable Agri-Food systems and Fisheries, Leonard Mizzi said “COVID-19 is a wakeup call to put agrifood systems at the top of the international agenda.” He added, “The EU and its Member States need to show leadership in the Food Systems Summit by building upon the existing EU Green Deal and Farm to Fork strategy."

FAO Director for Inclusive Rural Transformation and Gender Equity, Benjamin Davis pointed out that “territorial approaches stress the importance of negotiation, consensus building and conflict resolution. As such, they can facilitate more inclusive decision-making and empower local populations through their formal and informal organizations and networks.” Davis also highlighted FAO´s Hand-in-Hand initiative as offering a territorial perspective, with its new geospatial platform providing maps and supporting analysis of differences from one area to the next.

African Union Commission Head of Division for Agriculture and Food Security Simplice Nouala made a particular point of the need to transform agriculture in Africa and the real advantage of decentralizing agriculture as a means to improve the quality of lives and livelihoods at the local level.”

Italian G-20 Presidency Senior Expert for Sustainable Development and Food Systems,  and Member of the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) Sustainable Food Systems Programme, Francesco Rampa highlighted the Italian Presidency of the G20 will be framed around the COVID-19 response, with agriculture and sustainable food systems towards healthy diets included at its core. “The One Health approach is fundamental for a comprehensive response,” Rampa said.

Other participants included Celso Garrido, Director of Planning of the Ministry of Agriculture of Sao Tomé and Principe; Carolina Estroia, Head of Strategic Partnerships of the Camoes Institute (Portuguese Cooperation Agency); Andreas Thurner, member of the EU Economic and Social Committee, and Sara Rocha, Director of the Portuguese NGO ACTUAR.

The full recording of the video is available here.