FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Partnering with academia accelerates achieving sustainable agrifood systems

Eliminating hunger and the transformation of agrifood systems into sustainable systems are ambitious goals for which the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is working towards every day. Yet, the Organization is lucky to rely on its partners’ resources, too, including academia, research institutions, and universities. Knowledge hubs from across Europe and Central Asia met virtually today with FAO experts, and discussed new approaches to accelerate the transformation towards sustainable agrifood systems and ensure a future in which no one is left behind. Success in achieving this aim depends on collaboration between many players.

The regional academia roundtable consolidated ties between FAO and academia, universities, research institutions, and other regional partners.

“Many circumstances have worsened in the past years, and now we should address the challenges we are facing together and move towards resilient and sustainable food systems,” said Vladimir Rakhmanin, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia, in his welcoming remarks. “Our region is very diverse; we need to unite and, at the same time, respect this diversity when searching for solutions to achieve our common goal of creating sustainable food systems in Europe and Central Asia.”

During the discussions, experts from all over Europe and Central Asia and other regions drilled down deep into potential opportunities for joint action and discussed lessons learned on partnering with academia and research institutions to improve modalities of cooperation for the future. Presenters highlighted their work and experience in the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus.

Specifically, participants discussed the potential of data, technology, and innovation to ensure more sustainable agrifood systems, as well as the transformative role of partnerships in achieving this goal. Participants were also interested in the linkages between FAO’s programmes and initiative on agrifood system’s transformation with that of other organizations, including the European Union.

Additionally, participants were briefed on the key areas needed to transform current food systems into sustainable agrifood systems in Europe and Central Asia. The upcoming deadline of the 2030 Agenda gives the timeframe to achieve a food secure and healthy future and the Sustainable Development Goals. With their vast technical expertise and ability to generate and disseminate knowledge and innovative solutions, academia and research institutions are important actors in this process.

“Among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals one is solely on partnerships as a vehicle to implement the global sustainability agenda through strong collaborations,” said Darya Alekseeva, FAO regional partnership development officer. “Today, we made an effort to mobilize academic knowledge and stimulate innovative research through an increased engagement of the academia and research actors in FAO’s efforts of fighting hunger and malnutrition.”

The event was held within the framework of FAO’s Academia Perspectives Roundtable series, launched in 2019 to recognize the important role academic and research institutions can play in achieving food security and improved nutrition for all. Since then, the roundtables have served as a platform for regular consultations and sharing of ideas between FAO and relevant academia partners.

27 October 2022, Budapest, Hungary