Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)


New Food System Integrated Program to support the transformation of food systems into nature-positive, resilient, and pollution free system

The world continues to face challenges to meet food and nutrition needs of existing 8 billion people equitably, and to ensure that nature, on which food production is based, is protected and enhanced to meet needs of future generation. Currently, at least 38% of the world’s total land area is under agriculture[i] production, and agricultural production accounts for up to 90% of global deforestation[ii]; and 50% of the freshwater biodiversity loss[iii]; and 70% of global freshwater withdrawals[iv]. According to a new study, food systems about third of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions[v]). The consequences of unsustainable food production extend into aquatic systems. This makes agriculture the largest source of water pollution, which then runs off into aquatic ecosystems and coastal areas.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of UN (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) are developing a global program to support selected nations to catalyze the transformation to sustainable food systems that are nature-positive, resilient, and pollution-reduced. This program – Food Systems Integrated Program – will be funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and co-financed by countries, GEF agencies and other partners. The Food Systems Integrated Program is the second largest program approved in the GEF’s programming cycle for 2022 – 2026, known as GEF-8. FAO and IFAD aim to align the program with the outcomes of the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit and collaborate with partners, such as the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the Nature Conservancy, and the Regional Development Banks to deliver greater results.

The Food Systems Integrated Program will focus explicitly on sustainable, regenerative, nature positive production systems and support efficient value/supply chains covering selected food crops (maize, rice, and wheat), commercial commodities (soy, oil palm, coffee and cocoa), livestock, and aquaculture.

To maximize potential for transformative change, the Program will operate at two levels -global and selected national/sub-national levels - and promote work around transformational “levers” (governance and policies, financial leverage, multi-stakeholder dialogues, and innovation and learning) for advancing systems transformation.

At the global level, the Program will support:

  • Strengthening global policy coherence for more sustainable food systems.
  • Leveraging public, private and financial sectors through encouraging concrete actions on both the production and demand sides toward use and expansion of sustainability standards and commitments to environmental and socially responsible sourcing.
  • Catalyzing new opportunities across spatial (landscapes/ jurisdictions) or vertical (supply chain) dimensions to help maximize scale potential for impact within and beyond national boundaries.
  • Catalyzing access to knowledge, technical expertise, and capacity development on issues that represent common challenges across multiple countries or specific geographical regions (including south-south exchanges).

At the country level, and depending on the context, the objectives of the projects are:

  • Creating an enabling environment to shift toward sustainable and regenerative food production systems through a diversity of approaches.
  • Reducing livestock’s impact on the environment and contribution to zoonotic spillover and supporting production of alternative protein sources.
  • Expanding investment in sustainable aquaculture management that is explicitly linked to land-based practices, impacting freshwater and coastal marine ecosystems.


As a part of program development, FAO and IFAD, in consultation with the GEF and other key partners have developed the Theory of Change (TOC) and the Draft Results Framework for the Program. 

The Food Systems Integrated Program development team invites your views and suggestions on these two documents.

Theory of Change:

Do the barriers identified reflect your experience as Community Based Organizations (CBOs) / Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), private sector and local communities (women, men, youth, indigenous peoples)? Are there key barriers that are missing in TOC?
Do the first level Outcomes appropriate and adequate for transformation of food systems’ impacts on the environment?


Draft Results Framework:

Are the Outcomes planned appropriate and adequate for food systems transformation?
What could be examples of types of intervention and outputs that could ensure stronger engagement and ensure capacities of CBOs/ NGOs, the private sector, and communities (including women, men, and youth, indigenous peoples) to continue food systems transformation?
What might be specific contributions of each stakeholder group to the achievement of the components?


In addition, the Program development team seeks inputs on your experiences and advice on:

  • Examples of scaling up approaches, including policies, for more sustainable/ regenerative food systems practices.
  • Successful examples of multi-stakeholder processes at national level that brings  local communities (including indigenous peoples, youth, women and men), the private sector, the civil society and academia and the government to develop policies related to food systems.
  • Successful examples of public-private partnerships for food systems transformation.
  • Research gaps or innovations on food systems transformation for global environmental and climate benefits.

Note: The two documents are available for downloading on this webpage and comments are welcome in English.

The inputs received will contribute to finalize the Theory of Change and the Results Framework for the Food Systems Integrated Program. Furthermore, both documents will be presented to the GEF Council, most probably in June 2023 for their approval and these will guide country child projects in Argentina, Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Chad, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Eswatini, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Türkiye.

We thank in advance all the contributors for reading, commenting, providing inputs on these two documents, and sharing case studies.

Sameer Karki

Technical Officer with the FAO-GEF Coordination Unit under the Office of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Environment of FAO

This activity is now closed. Please contact [email protected] for any further information.

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Dear participants!

On behalf of the Program development team, I thank you so much for your responses to our this call for inputs on the draft theory of change and the draft results framework for the GEF8 Food Systems Integrated Program.

Although we are closing the consultation for now due to approaching deadline for their submission to the GEF, we look forward to your additional inputs in future, as we develop the program further at global and national levels.

For your information, the following countries have been selected to develop national food systems transformation projects based on expressions of interests submitted by the countries: Argentina, Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Chad, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Eswatini, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Türkiye. These country level projects have selected different sub-sector of food systems as entry points.

With best wishes to all,

Sameer Karki

Facilitator of this online consultation and a Technical Officer of the FAO-GEF Coordination Unit

Mr. Thomas Witt

Regional Sustainable Energy Center of Excellence for Sub Saharan Africa, Nigeria & Code Earth

Dear Karki and Participants!

Representing the Regional Sustainable Energy Center of Excellence for Sub Saharan Africa in Nigeria which also covers agriculture as one of its major concerns, I thank you for the opportunity and your patience to let me comment on the New Food System Integrated Program and the topic in general.

We observe an enormous interest and pressure on the food production in Africa by all kinds of organizations which unfortunately often do not come with good or right intentions. It is no secret that Africa is receiving this special focus of interest as its full potential hasn’t been explored yet, but as much of an opportunity as fragile its social and environmental systems. It is paramount to not repeat errors from the past and other regions, rather look at it with the last opportunity to do it right. I truly believe that Africa could feed itself and possibly the world if it could use its full capacity to produce food through Nature-based Solutions sustainably without external inputs and by large extent by smallholder farming.

Let me begin with terminology. Terminology used must be well defined to not let it be diluted at any time. “Regenerative” for that matter is an absolutely undefined term that is constantly undermined by allowing for external inputs, i.e. chemical pesticides and herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, bio-stimulants, hybrid seeds and GMO. These have no place in sustainable agroforestry and Nature-based Solutions farming, and no place in Africa as once agreed by the African Union. In fact, they not only reduce yields from year 2-3 of their implementation, they kill the microbiome of the soil, its biodiversity, its nutrients, its water retention and its soil properties as it becomes a compacted dead soil that let the next rainfall wash out the chemicals in a run-off to the rivers and the sea. Here they kill the already decimated marine environment with a cocktail of thousands of other forever chemicals.

The acidification of the oceans will reach a pH value of 7.95-7.90 by 2045 at the current speed which will lead to carbonate life dissolving in the ocean and a total collapse of the marine life. This would impact at least 3 billion people near the coast depending of the ocean food chains. It also affects 50% of our oxygen production through photosynthesis on the globe, the other from the terrestrial source isn’t sure either if we don’t take care. The ocean stores a multiple amount of carbon than any terrestrial system, through CO2 transfer via a thin boundary layer at the surface of the ocean where all the chemicals accumulate and are given back to the atmosphere. The carbon gets stored in the carbonate life permanently unless it dissolves.

It is therefore the terminology we chose and its adherence that defines our future. Those inputs have no place in agroforestry systems and NbS-systems. Agroforestry systems have a multiple higher yield than any traditional farming method. These include all the NbS systems like pasturing, permaculture, polyculture, sustainable livestock farming and, of course, trees on farmland. Livestock is key to many of these landscapes. It is a myth that wildlife and lifestock unless industrialized shall be a major contributor to methane emissions. They always existed. Methane emissions result predominantly from unsealed oil wells and hydrocarbon storages, melting permafrost, methane soil explosions in Siberia, warming Arctic sediments, and many other sources.

In the Sahel zone, there is a constant conflict between farmers and nomadic herders. This problem must be wisely handled but there are ways in NbS farming that can allow for it with mutual respect. NbS farming also means smallholder farmers. Smallholder farmers are key in Africa. FAO-FARA Network of which I am a member of had explored underutilized and forgotten crops in 2021/22. Uttermost biodiversity in crops is the only way to adapt to climate change. The crops mentioned are rather Western staple crops, often used with external inputs, with less nutrition value than African crops which are ultimately better equipped to withstand climate change. Open fields are exposed to desertification as they can’t hold the water and the wind blows away the upper soil layer. The desertification goes on about 27 km per year southbound on average. Groundwater must be handled wisely, may it often be the last resort of survival. It must not be wasted for applications that consume water but don’t give back.

We can support smallholder farmers with all they need to produce food, store it properly and bring it fresh to markets. This is ultimately a systemic development approach which stretches to all SDGs. In all efforts in Africa, the remaining wildlife biodiversity (animals and plants) must be preserved by all means. Where regeneration and carbon storage have a place is in one of the world’s largest mangrove areas, the Niger Delta; mangroves are one of the most important carbon storage areas and the breeding ground for fish and other marine life.

It also must be avoided to destroy or clear any corridor or build water dams into rainforests, particularly in the DRC as it will destroy the ancient habitats.

To feed the world sustainably recognizing climate change it is most important to not repeat errors from the past.

Thank you,

Thomas M H Witt

MSc Atmospheric Physics (University of Hamburg)

Environmental Conservation Specialist

Environment, Health & Safety Professional

RSECESSA, Abuja, Nigeria 

Thank you for sharing the TOC and Results Framework for the New Food System Integrated Program, which provides a real and exciting opportunity for transformation. Congratulations for the comprehensive work.

I just wanted to highlight an observation. Several of the countries identified for the Program are hosting large numbers of refugees and/or have significant internally displaced populations who are acutely food insecure, many of which are reliant on humanitarian assistance to meet their food and basic needs. Inclusion of these populations in food systems transformation is essential to support increased food and nutrition security and climate adaptation.

While the goal of the Program is inclusive food systems, it could be useful to explicitly unpack the barriers to inclusion for forcibly displaced populations and how to address these, and target these populations, more explicitly through the Program. The Program could then also play an important and critical role in developing an evidence-base on the sustainable transformation of food systems in fragile and conflict affected contexts, inclusive of vulnerable populations including forcibly displaced. 

We/UNHCR would be happy to further engage and support this process in contexts of forced displacement moving forward.


Dear Karki and participants,

 I appreciate this opportunity to participate in this fruitful discussion on the food system.

I would mention some important points related to food security in developing countries.

- Land fragmentation causes pressure on land, and forest degradation. The high population makes families in most areas overcultivate their plots to maximize crop yield, and other lands are unused.

- We lack the economic scale farm or Economies of Size in Production Agriculture.

- Achieve food security coming through reducing food waste in primary production, food industries, and retail outlets. As well as reduce food waste in consumption sectors households and food services.

 A successful transformative food system must provide farmers and the community with accurate forecasting and resilience. Enforce climate services for small-scale farmers.

Thanks to all contributors for the significant information.

Moammar Dayoub

Ph.D. Agro- economy

Senior Researcher

Faculty of Technology - Turku University - Finland

New integrated food system program to support the transformation of food systems into nature-positive, resilient, and non-polluting systems.

Theory of Change:

1 Do the barriers identified reflect your experience as community-based organizations (CBOs)/non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private sector, and local communities (women, men, youth, indigenous peoples)? Are there key barriers that are missing in TOC?

The private sector, experiences several barriers to promoting the transformation of sustainable food systems. Although the barriers identified in Theory of Change reflect our experiences to some extent, we believe there are additional barriers that need to be addressed to accelerate progress toward sustainable food systems.

One of the main barriers we have encountered is the lack of access to financing. Many small and medium-sized food enterprises have difficulty accessing affordable financing to invest in sustainable practices, technologies and infrastructure. This is especially true for companies in developing countries, where access to finance is often limited. Without access to finance, it can be difficult for these companies to adopt sustainable practices and technologies and participate in sustainable value chains.

Another barrier we found is a lack of stakeholder awareness and education about the importance of sustainable food systems. Many consumers, producers, and policymakers are unaware of the environmental and social impacts of food production and consumption and the potential benefits of a broad convergence of technologies and practices to support transformation. This lack of awareness can make it difficult to create momentum for sustainable food systems transformation and to engage stakeholders in the process.

Finally, inadequate infrastructure is another barrier to sustainable food systems transformation. In many parts of the world, especially in rural areas, the infrastructure needed to support access to knowledge and technology, sustainable food production, processing, and distribution is lacking. These include infrastructure for irrigation, energy, transportation and storage. Without adequate infrastructure, it can be difficult for producers to adopt sustainable practices and participate in sustainable value chains and for consumers to access sustainably produced food.

Addressing these barriers will be critical to accelerating progress toward transforming sustainable food systems. This will require a collaborative effort involving stakeholders from all sectors, including the private sector, civil society, and government, as well as increased investment in sustainable infrastructure and capacity building.

2 Are first-level outcomes appropriate and adequate to transform the impact of food systems on the environment?

Although first-level Theory of Change (TOC) outcomes are appropriate and adequate to transform the impact of food systems on the environment, it is critical to emphasize the importance of social equity and inclusion in the outcomes. This will ensure that the benefits of transforming sustainable food systems are distributed equitably across all segments of society.

Analyses on food insecurity reveal that small farmers suffer the consequences of food insecurity more than many others.

Sustainable food systems should focus on reducing the environmental impact of food production and ensure that all stakeholders share in the benefits of sustainable practices. This includes small farmers, women, youth, indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups who often face significant barriers to participation in sustainable value chains.

Therefore, we suggest that the TOC explicitly include outcomes related to equity and social inclusion, such as:

- Increased participation of smallholder farmers, women, youth, and indigenous peoples in sustainable value chains.

- Improved access to finance, training, and technical assistance for marginalized groups who want to participate in sustainable food systems.

- Increased representation and participation of marginalized groups in decision-making processes related to food systems.

- Improved livelihoods and welfare of farmers and marginalized groups through sustainable food systems transformation.

By including these outcomes in the TOC, we can ensure that the transformation of sustainable food systems is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable. This will require a concerted effort to address systemic barriers that prevent marginalized groups from participating in sustainable food systems and to promote inclusive and equitable value chains that benefit all stakeholders.

Draft Results Framework:

3 Are the intended outcomes appropriate and adequate for food systems transformation?

Although the intended outcomes in the Draft Results Framework are appropriate and adequate for food systems transformation, we suggest including specific outcomes related to biodiversity conservation and restoration. Biodiversity conservation and restoration are important aspects of sustainable food systems that need to be highlighted.

Food systems are intrinsically linked to biodiversity, and the loss of biodiversity can have a significant impact on food production, nutrition, and livelihoods. Therefore, it is critical that sustainable food systems, alongside productivity, include biodiversity conservation and restoration. Specific outcomes related to biodiversity conservation and restoration that could be included in the Results Framework include:

- Increased adoption of agricultural practices that improve biodiversity, such as intercropping, crop rotation, and conservation and regenerative agriculture.

- Improved conservation and restoration of critical ecosystems, such as forests, wetlands, and coastal ecosystems, which are important for food production and biodiversity.

- Increased combination of crop and livestock diversity to increase resilience and reduce the risk of crop and livestock failures.

- Increased protection and restoration of pollinators and other beneficial insects that are important for food production and biodiversity.

- Improved access to genetic resources and traditional knowledge that can support biodiversity conservation and restoration.

By including these outcomes in the Results Framework, we can ensure that biodiversity conservation and restoration are considered equal to productivity and food security in the transformation of sustainable food systems. This will require a concerted effort to address the causes of biodiversity loss, such as habitat destruction, overexploitation, and climate change, and to promote practices and policies that enhance biodiversity and support sustainable food production.

4 What might be examples of types of interventions and outcomes that could ensure greater involvement and ensure the capacities of CBOs/NGOs, the private sector, and communities (including women, men, youth, and indigenous peoples) to continue the transformation of food systems?

Here is further detail on examples of interventions and outcomes that could ensure greater involvement and capacity building of CBOs/NGOs, the private sector, and communities:

- Provide training and technical assistance in agriculture: Provide training and technical assistance on agricultural practices and technology use, supply chain management, and certification standards. This may include training on no-tillage, crop rotation, cover crops, and certification standards for sustainable food production and processing.

- Facilitate access to finance: Facilitating access to finance for small farmers and agricultural SMEs can help overcome one of the main obstacles to sustainable food systems transformation. This must include carbon credits and payments for ecosystem services in addition to traditional credit access tools.

- Support the creation of farmer cooperatives and community-based organizations: Supporting the creation of farmer cooperatives and community-based organizations can help promote sustainable food production and value chains and build the capacity of farmers and communities to participate in sustainable practices. This can include training on cooperative management, governance and financial management, as well as support for business plan development and market linkages.

By implementing these interventions and outcomes, we can help build the capacity of CBOs/NGOs, the private sector, and communities to participate in the transformation of sustainable food systems. This will require a collaborative effort involving stakeholders and increased investment in capacity building and technical assistance.

5 What could be the specific contributions of each stakeholder group to achieving the components?

Here are more details on the specific contributions of each stakeholder group to achieving the components, examples of scaled-up approaches for more sustainable/regenerative food systems practices, examples of successful multi-stakeholder processes at the national level, and gaps in research or innovations on transforming food systems to achieve global environmental and climate benefits:

- CBOs/NGOs: Non-governmental organizations can contribute to the implementation of the component by providing technical assistance and training in agriculture and facilitating access to technology.

- Private sector: The private sector can contribute to the implementation of the component by helping to communicate agricultural practices.

- Communities (including women, men and youth, indigenous peoples): Communities can contribute to the implementation of the component by participating in decision-making processes and adopting agricultural practices appropriate to local realities.

- Governments: Governments can contribute to the implementation of the component by developing and implementing policies and regulations that support local food systems. They can also promote research and innovation and invest in infrastructure and capacity building to support the transformation of food systems. Invest in research and innovation to develop new technologies and practices to support food systems. Promote public-private partnerships to harness resources and expertise for sustainable food systems transformation.

Overall, the Integrated Food Systems Program has the potential to catalyze food systems transformation through the inclusion of multiple stakeholder groups and a focus on production systems that provide access to innovative and traditional technologies and practices.

Dear  Sameer Karki,

Green Greetings.  Thank you for the opportunity to be associated with your Organisation. Please find my response/input for two documents below;

  • In the wake of the current global climate crisis, an attempt to minimise GHG emissions to improve the Environmental performance for sustainability is needed. The practice of climate-smart agriculture is the need of the hour to meet global challenges like crop management, manure management and soil management to improve soil carbon. Contributions from stakeholders, certified bodies and policymakers will strengthen environmental governance.
  • Rural land use pattern and urbanisation, urban sprawl into rural neighbourhoods reducing the irrigated area and cultivation. Therefore, promotion of urban farming which includes integrating the latest technologies such as terrace gardening, vertical farming, hydroponics, Aeroponics and aquaponics etc.
  • Greenhouse gas emission increase or decrease to the type of cultivation / cultivated area and livestock / manure/grazed lands and soil/ transportation and storage
  • Concepts that are the foundation of greenhouse gas emission accounting in the supply chain, and the outcome will help the consumers to combat the greenhouse gas emission at different stages and also support research, development and extension efforts for sustainability performance. Therefore, a balanced farming system is required to be introduced to contain greenhouse gas emissions at desired level.

EDF Comments on GEF-8 funded FAO/ IFAD “New Food System Integrated Program to support the transformation of food systems into nature-positive, resilient, and pollution free system”

Please contact Willow Battista, Senior Manager of Climate Resilient Food Systems ([email protected]) for questions or follow-up

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is appreciative of this opportunity to provide comments on the initial components of this important New Food System Integrated Program. We see this effort as an important and globally impactful initiative stemming from the UNFSSS. We hope our suggestions will be of value and are happy to provide additional support as needed.

We provide here some higher-level comments and suggestions, followed by answers to the specific questions on the Theory of Change. Our comments on the Draft Results Framework are provided directly on that document and submitted here as an attachment.


  • Aquatic Foods: We are pleased to see the inclusion of aquatic foods from land-based aquaculture, and the discussion of the impacts of food production on aquatic food systems. It would be logical to also note the value of sustainably produced aquatic foods as a climate-smart source of nutrition, which new peer-reviewed research has documented the case (see this Nature special issue, and Free et al. 2022). We strongly encourage the project organizers to expand the focus of this work to include aquatic food systems more broadly – beyond just land-based aquaculture, or even just aquaculture.
    • Aquatic foods (fish, invertebrates, seaweed, and other aquatic species) are a key source of both protein and micronutrients for billions of people, and aquatic food systems are a cornerstone of the livelihoods, economies, and cultures of many coastal and riparian communities. They are especially important for coastal and rural communities throughout the Global South and the developing tropics, where vulnerability to malnutrition and food insecurity are especially high (A. Bennett et al., 2021). In addition to their importance as sources of animal protein, and often more importantly, fish are crucial sources of vital micronutrients, such as zinc, iron, A and B vitamins, and essential fatty acids (Golden et al., 2021). These micronutrients are generally more bioavailable in fish compared with plant-source foods, and fish is also often more affordable than other animal protein sources. If eaten locally, these resources have the added benefits of being accessible and affordable to the communities who need them most, and locally-caught species are likely to be familiar, culturally appropriate food sources that can provide necessary nutrients without requiring a dietary shift (Hicks et al., 2019).
    • Additionally, fishing can be a critical food source for landless people, as well as an important safety net during political, economic, and/ or environmental shocks that disrupt land-based food production.
    • On top of all these food and nutrition benefits, fish (especially wild-caught seafood) is a significantly more sustainable food source across multiple dimensions, including greenhouse gas emissions, nitrogen release, water use, and land use, when compared with a wide-variety of land-based foods, and especially when compared with other animal protein sources (Gephart et al., 2021). A recent paper suggests that, through improved management of wild fisheries and expansion of sustainable ocean aquaculture, aquatic foods can meet or exceed per capita seafood demand in nearly every country, under all but the worst case climate scenarios (Free et al., 2022). For all of these reasons it’s critical that a holistic look at aquatic food systems be taken and that both capture and cultivated aquatic foods be integrated throughout this project.

  • Financing:
    • Climate Financing: Suggestion to detail stronger linkages between the impacts of climate change on food systems and the need for finance. Climate impacts are a looming challenge, and food producers need support to adapt. This is especially important in regards to the project’s focus on financing. If financing within the food systems does not account for the impacts and risks associated with climate change, there are limits to its long-term value.
    • Small-scale producer financing: Happy to see the focus on increasing financing for adaptation and transformation, but materials so far lacking in emphasis on the need to get these resources to the small-scale producers who need them.

  • Food system focus: Suggestion to include a stronger focus on food systems as a whole and not merely the production end. The current outline indicates greater focus on the food production level. The gist of the UNFSS’ findings is that all components of the food system including access to nutritious foods, a reduction in food loss and waste, reduced emissions, processing and cold chain during transportation and storage are in need of more robust levels of support and intervention in order to secure nature positive improvements in food security and nutrition.  

  • Staple versus non-staple crops and diversification: It is discouraging to see that the focus remains largely on staple commodities and crops. There is an urgent need to improve understanding and awareness of the nutritional, sustainability, and resilience value of non-staple crops, and to diversify our food systems (see Hertel et al. 2021, and the articles sited therein). We urge the organizers not to miss this opportunity to move the needle on this front and include a strong focus on non-staple crops.

  • Local and producer level focus: In the current format, this project focuses closely on more national and international levels in relation to capacity building, financing, and decision-making. Suggestion to include greater focus on resource and knowledge allocation and capacity building that reaches all the way to the frontline communities/local level who need them most – for example, food producers, and especially small-scale food producers and local extension services. It is also critical to ensure that local level actors have ownership over interventions and are in decision-making roles and that this reverberates to government and international level decision making. Too often, we see resources flowing at the national level, but not making it to the food producing communities who need them.  

  • Lessons learned and best practices: There are points within the results framework that switch between commenting on new interventions versus established interventions; it is hard to follow which is which. Suggestion to clarify when the authors are suggesting something new versus when they are suggesting improvements to existing practices.

    Further, the document strongly focuses on setting up new and different models and places less emphasis on supporting, or improving upon and bolstering, existing models. Suggestion to promote and highlight local lessons learned and best practices within the food systems and ensure that promoted practices are equitable, because the speed of uptake might be greater and levels of resistance lower:
    • For example, according to the FAO closing the gender gap report, in developing nations, women make up an estimated 43% of the agricultural workforce. The report also notes that with the same access to productive resources as men, women could increase yields on women-run farms by 20-30%. Production gains from this yield increase could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12-17%. We would strongly encourage this project to focus on lessons learned and gaps within inequity challenges such as this to address food systems challenges. This should not be exclusive to just gender differences but should also investigate youth, traditional and indigenous knowledge, marginalized and frontline communities, land tenure gaps in access, best practices, and knowledge and voices that should reverberate into government and international policies and planning.

  • Indicators: Suggestion to revisit draft indicators. Overall, the indicators identified are insufficient. For example, counting the number of partnerships formed, or the number of management plans developed may not be directly translatable to any meaningful insight that can lead to real-world change.  We are encouraged by some of the gender and demographic disaggregated indicators but believe that there is also great value to complimenting quantitative indicators and findings with qualitative data from frontline communities to really understand how initiatives are translating at the community level. For comparison, it would also be helpful to indicate which indicators are building from prior studies and figures and which assume that we are starting at ground zero/capturing baseline level data.

Country level plans:

  • Happy to see reference to diversity of approaches, but need to ensure that this is aligned with all the talk about scaling and spreading in the global section above – sometimes something should not “scale,” context is critical.
  • Concern about livestock being treated as homogeneous across countries and geographies – critical to not take a broad brush to this challenge and to recognize and respect those places where livestock production is done sustainably and may be the most climate-resilient source of protein available to vulnerable populations

  • Concern about the focus on alternative proteins – ensure these are sustainably produced and accessible to those populations needing them the most. Also, critical to clarify between types of “alternative” protein sources – e.g., cell-derived sources have a very different footprint than do plant or insect derived sources.

Some key issues specifically related to aquaculture:

  • While a discussion of investment in sustainable aquaculture is very welcome, and is overdue, it is unclear why the investment is restricted to aquaculture that is linked to land-based practices. Coastal/marine aquaculture and aquaculture in inland waters merit equal consideration, and no explanation is offered as to why they are excluded.  

  • Some clarity about what “sustainable” aquaculture means would also be welcome. (One approach would be to cite the pending Guidelines for Sustainable Aquaculture and propose to use the GSA definition(s) as a guideline once the GSA are adopted as final.)

  • The document should acknowledge the variety of aquatic food species currently consumed and be explicit about the need to encourage selection and cultivation of appropriate (and appropriately varied) aquatic species that are both ecologically suited and culturally appropriate.  

  • Since the Blue Transformation roadmap indicates the intention to move very swiftly to expand aquaculture in Africa and the SIDS, it is critical to ensure this rapidly-developing industry also develops equitably – that the people and communities whose existing food sources will be hard hit by climate change are the ones who will benefit, not just from the food produced through aquaculture but also from the wealth produced as this industry expands. We urge the inclusion in this programme of positive lessons learned from, for example, FAO-assisted projects that create locally-based and women-led small-scale aquaculture to support School Feeding Programs in India, Africa and Latin America.

  • Strong governance and policy guidance is critical to the development of sustainable, equitable aquaculture in marine and freshwater systems – which will be critical to meet the aquatic food demands of the growing population with climate change (Free et al. 2022), so we hope this opportunity to catalyze this development will not be missed. 

  • With IFAD in the lead in this programme, it is essential that deficiencies in the Agency’s capacity to promote and oversee aquaculture programme development for small-scale fisheries and aquaculture, as detailed in the Evaluation Synthesis conducted by the IFAD Independent Office of Evaluation, be addressed. This report found that IFAD had “given limited explicit attention to aquatic resources and to the rural poor who depend on them” in its strategic frameworks and sectoral policies, and that IFAD had “limited in-house expertise in these areas of work.”


Theory of Change

Overarching comment: it is not clear what the colors/ groupings mean – are they intended to tie to specific SDGs with similar colors?

  1. Do the barriers identified reflect your experience as Community Based Organizations (CBOs) / Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), private sector and local communities (women, men, youth, indigenous peoples)? Are there key barriers that are missing in TOC?
    • Missing drivers:

      • System structures, rules, and paradigms – these are partially captured in the barriers but not mentioned in the drivers. Drivers seem to focus on individual behaviors and decisions rather than systemic issues

    • Missing barriers:

      • Happy to see mindsets etc., but the current TOC is missing the system paradigms beneath them – like the paradigm of agro-industrial trade that drives the mindset that food resources should be valued as commodities on the market rather than based on their nutritional value; the paradigm that productivity/ a country’s success should be judged based on economic growth and production rather than on something like food sovereignty, or the Bhutan-inspired Gross National Happiness Index which considers nine domains rather than GDP alone (psychological wellbeing; health; education; time use; cultural diversity and resilience; good governance; community vitality; ecological diversity and resilience and living standards).

      • Suggestion to include more on holistic decision-making and evaluation of tradeoffs, especially across geographic boundaries – e.g., using food resources for biofuels; or a requirement to grow only organic food, and the potential for these “sustainability” policies to drive deforestation elsewhere. We need frameworks to assess these tradeoffs and to create holistic policies to avoid externalities of the process of transformation.


      • Inclusion and valuation of traditional and Indigenous knowledge and local expertise for decision-making is currently missing in this TOC. There is a lot of emphasis on knowledge throughout this TOC – often the lack of knowledge is not the problem, it’s the lack of access to resources or capacity to act on that knowledge. (It is notable that the CFS-HLPE flagged ‘building a meaningful interface for diverse knowledges and practices for FSN’ in its 2022 Note on critical, emerging and enduring issues meriting further attention.


      • Lack of concrete barriers to equitable food systems – e.g., women having less land ownership, access to education/ knowledge, productive assets, technology, etc. There is need to discuss specific groups accessing knowledge and capacity – this could be linked to other FAO related work such as Closing the Gender Gap for Development or FAO’s work on Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems work, and implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure for Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security.

  2. Do the first level Outcomes appropriate and adequate for transformation of food systems’ impacts on the environment?
    • Challenging to state at this point due to their currently vague descriptions– would be helpful to articulate how each of the barriers will be addressed.

    • Suggestion to include further discussion of revaluation of food resources (true costs and benefits of food systems) - this is in the barriers but not carried through as an outcome.

    • Further need to clarify who needs the finance and support for adaptation – need to prioritize small scale producers and vulnerable communities.

    • Would be helpful to clarify meaning of different abbreviations.


Draft Results Framework:

Our comments on this Framework are provided in the document, as an attachment.


Experiences and Advice on:

  • Scaling up approaches
    • Scaling and spreading successful interventions through behavioral and systemic change are topics that we have spend significant time thinking about and working towards. You may find our 2017 paper titled How to Achieve Conservation Outcomes at Scale: An evaluation of scaling principles (Battista et al. 2017) useful, and we also highly recommend the “scaling out, scaling up, scaling deep” framework presented in Taking Nature-Based Solutions Programs to Scale (Salafsky et al. 2021).

    • On the ground:
      • EDF India partnered with an Indian nonprofit, the Syngenta Foundation India (SFI), to create and launch a new capacity building train-the-trainer program aimed at helping local farmers adopt climate-smart agriculture techniques to meet their local needs. Through this program, agronomists and senior agri-entrepreneurs from SFI participate in a week-long educational program on climate smart agriculture in India. Then, they are asked to train a network of thousands of rural entrepreneurs and extension agents who will each train hundreds of local farmers about ways to protect their incomes while reducing environmental harm. The week-long climate smart agriculture training curriculum includes modules on the science of climate crisis, the impact of changing climate on Indian agriculture and economy, nitrogen and water management for improving yields and income, minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, maintaining soil health, and the credibility and efficiency of carbon credits.

      • The Small-Scale Fisheries Resource and Collaboration Hub — or the SSF Hub —  is an multilingual, interactive, and free-to-use platform aiming to connect small-scale fishers, fishworkers, fishery communities, and their allies. Its purpose is to spread best practices in fisheries management and policy, and to strengthen small-scale fisheries governance and community development by providing free resources, access to an online community, relevant events, and so much more. The SSF Hub was created collaboratively between EDF and other organizations from across different countries.

  • Multi-stakeholder processes
    • Supporting and facilitating multi-stakeholder participatory processes is core to EDF’s vision and theory of change, and we have significant experience and expertise in more than a dozen countries in doing so. We approach this work holistically to develop long-term solutions to related and compounding challenges, listening to the needs and perspectives of local partners and communities and offering our technical science and policy expertise to support them in meeting their goals. We provide here a few examples but would be happy to discuss this topic and offer our support more extensively if desired.
      • Fisheries: EDF’s Fishery Solutions Center houses a comprehensive set of practical fishery management tools, including our Framework for Integrated Stock and Habitat Evaluation (FISHE). FISHE is a participatory framework for adaptively assessing and managing data-limited fisheries in order to support effective, resilient, and durable co-management systems. EDF has worked with fishery managers, scientists, fishers, and other stakeholders to apply tools from FISHE in diverse fishery contexts, including:
        • Ghana – Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has been brought in by the USAID Feed the Future Ghana Fisheries Recovery Activity (GFRA) team to support the Ghana’s newly-formed Fisheries Management Operational Committee (FMOC) in developing management measures that can support the recovery of four small pelagic fish species which are both critically overfished and critically important to food and nutrition security, as well as livelihoods, in Ghana. We are designing and facilitating a series of three multi-stakeholder workshops focused on building capacity for participatory, inclusive decision-making and for understanding and utilizing the stock, ecosystem, and climate change assessments to support progress toward co-developed goals. The outcome of this series of workshops will be a detailed Operational Management Plan for the four focal small-pelagic stocks.
        • Belize – EDF provided technical support for UNCTAD’s Oceans Economy and Trade Strategies (OETS) project in Belize by organizing and delivering a capacity building workshop for finfish fishery management in Belize and developing a proposal for a national science-based Adaptive Multispecies Finfish Fishery Management Plan.
        • Portugal – EDF provided strategic advice and detailed planning support to the ParticiPESCA coalition to organize a stakeholder group that will co-manage the fishery; EDF is guiding the group through key decisions to create a management plan that applies the FISHE framework, including through providing a technical training to the Science Advisory Group. 

      • Food systems more widely: EDF’s Climate Resilient Food Systems team has been working to apply the lessons we’ve learned from decades working on sustainable fisheries management to new efforts to address food systems challenges more broadly around the world. We are working to apply the same principles – of engaging an inclusive group of stakeholders meaningfully and deeply in a participatory goal setting, decision-making, design, and implementation process – so that solutions are owned by, and sure to benefit, locally impacted groups. For example:
        • Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico’s food system faces a host of challenges that are common to food systems around the world. These include 1) high and inequitable food and nutrition insecurity driven by lack of accessibility and affordability of nutritious foods; 2) drastic changes in both food production and diets over the course of recent history that have reduced health, livelihoods, and sustainability; and 3) a serious lack of resilience of the food provisioning system, as demonstrated by both COVID and the 2017 Hurricane Maria. We are currently working to plan and coordinate a food systems analysis workshop in Puerto Rico with a diverse, and inclusive group of stakeholders. Through this facilitated workshop we seek to uncover hidden barriers and root causes of persistent food system challenges as viewed by the people who are experiencing them, and to identify the most effective pathways toward nourishing the people of Puerto Rico sustainably in the face of climate change. By co-developing these pathways with local actors who are already driving change, and whose lives and livelihoods are at the center of these issues, we will ensure the durability, efficacy, and equity of these solutions.

  • Public-private partnerships
    • EDF has been instrumental in supporting the Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest finance (LEAF) Coalition, which seeks to halt deforestation by financing large scale tropical forest protection through public-private collaboration. In 2021, the Coalition mobilized $1bn in financing, kicking off the largest-ever public-private effort to protect tropical forests.

    • Following on the UN Food Systems Summit, EDF facilitated the formation of the Aquatic Blue Food Coalition. This multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral group includes the government representatives from European Union, Fiji, Germany, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Palau, Portugal and the United States of America, in addition to representatives from intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, academic institutions, aquatic food producers and those along the value chain, consumer groups, financial institutions and philanthropies. The Coalition seeks to 1) Raise the profile of blue/aquatic foods in discussions of the future of food systems, including in the context of international forums such as CBD, the UNFCCC and CFS, and in national policymaking -- highlighting the relevance of aquatic foods to the SDGs and to the priorities of many government decision-makers, including health ministers, development ministers, finance ministers, and prime ministers; 2) Mobilize support -- including investment, technical capacity, and partnerships -- for countries, or groups of countries, that are setting out to integrate aquatic/blue foods into their food systems and to implement core aquatic food priorities.

  • Research gaps
    • There is a clear need to develop new methods to assess the nutritional, environmental, and social impacts of different food resources and food production methods in data- and capacity-limited contexts. For example, in systems dominated by small-scale producers it can be very difficult to quantify the water quality benefits stemming from one farmer’s reduction in fertilizer or pesticide use. Such data are desperately needed throughout the small-scale farms and fisheries of the world to enable more accurate and appropriate valuation of different food resources and to facilitate the creation of policies and management plans that incentivize more sustainable and regenerative practices. If we seek to make progress on the challenges of food system transformation in an equitable way, we must be able to account for farm-level differences in performance along a variety of metrics. Without this precision, policies and market incentives will favor larger-scale, industrialized operations that can afford to adopt expensive new technologies, and smaller-scale farmers and fishers will be left behind.

    • Similarly, as referenced above, there is also a critical need to capture data on informal food production and consumption. For example, food resources that are foraged, gathered, or gleaned by individuals who are not members of the formal food production sector will not be considered or valued in policy or management decision-making, and will therefore not benefit from any efforts to protect or restore those resources, or to ensure access to them for all individuals in need. In some cases, new data streams are becoming available, such as the Illuminating Hidden Harvests data on unassessed fisheries, which should definitely be captured in this report. In other cases, bespoke efforts will be needed to capture a comprehensive picture of food resource use in any given area.



Battista, W., Tourgee, A., Wu, C., & Fujita, R. (2017). How to Achieve Conservation Outcomes at Scale: An Evaluation of Scaling Principles. Frontiers in Marine Science, 3.

Bennett, A., Basurto, X., Virdin, J., Lin, X., Betances, S. J., Smith, M. D., Allison, E. H., Best, B. A., Brownell, K. D., Campbell, L. M., Golden, C. D., Havice, E., Hicks, C. C., Jacques, P. J., Kleisner, K., Lindquist, N., Lobo, R., Murray, G. D., Nowlin, M., … Zoubek, S. (2021). Recognize fish as food in policy discourse and development funding. Ambio.

Free, C. M., Cabral, R. B., Froehlich, H. E., Battista, W., Ojea, E., O’Reilly, E., Palardy, J. E., García Molinos, J., Siegel, K. J., Arnason, R., Juinio-Meñez, M. A., Fabricius, K., Turley, C., & Gaines, S. D. (2022). Expanding ocean food production under climate change. Nature, 1–7.

Gephart, J. A., Henriksson, P. J. G., Parker, R. W. R., Shepon, A., Gorospe, K. D., Bergman, K., Eshel, G., Golden, C. D., Halpern, B. S., Hornborg, S., Jonell, M., Metian, M., Mifflin, K., Newton, R., Tyedmers, P., Zhang, W., Ziegler, F., & Troell, M. (2021). Environmental performance of blue foods. Nature, 597(7876), 360–365.

Golden, C. D., Koehn, J. Z., Shepon, A., Passarelli, S., Free, C. M., Viana, D. F., Matthey, H., Eurich, J. G., Gephart, J. A., Fluet-Chouinard, E., Nyboer, E. A., Lynch, A. J., Kjellevold, M., Bromage, S., Charlebois, P., Barange, M., Vannuccini, S., Cao, L., Kleisner, K. M., … Thilsted, S. H. (2021). Aquatic foods to nourish nations. Nature, 598(7880), 315–320.

Hertel, T., Elouafi, I., Tanticharoen, M., & Ewert, F. (2021). Diversification for enhanced food systems resilience. Nature Food, 2(11), 832–834.

Hicks, C. C., Cohen, P. J., Graham, N. A. J., Nash, K. L., Allison, E. H., D’Lima, C., Mills, D. J., Roscher, M., Thilsted, S. H., Thorne-Lyman, A. L., & MacNeil, M. A. (2019). Harnessing global fisheries to tackle micronutrient deficiencies. Nature, 574(7776), 95–98.

Salafsky, N., Suresh, V., Bierbaum, R., Clarke, E., Smith, M. S., & Whaley, C. (n.d.). Taking Nature-Based Solutions Programs to Scale.

Mr. Julio Prudencio

Investigador independiente afiliado a la Fundación TIERRA y al Instituto de Investigaciones Socioeconómicas de la Universidad Católica de Bolivia
Bolivia (Plurinational State of)

To the New Food System Integrated Program to support the transformation of food systems into nature-positive, resilient, and pollution free system

I think the Program is a good start to continue analyzing and discussing world food systems and their transformation.

1. The selected products are not the most suitable; and continuing to encourage their production and consumption means continuing with unsustainable food systems.

. In the case of food crops; specifically in the consumption of wheat, the political and financial dependence of many countries on this crop and its derivatives (wheat flour) has increased strongly. In many countries it is a subsidized product, which even harms the internal production of other more nutritionally rich products. In addition, the nutritional value of wheat is not significant, that is, there are other healthier and more nutritious products that should be recommended for a healthier diet, such as fruits and vegetables.

. In the case of corn, it is necessary to encourage its existing production and diversification in each region/country, for human consumption; and also as feed/raw material for livestock/poultry feed (=eggs, milk). But the production of genetically modified corn should not be encouraged, as it is currently being done, because this leads to the contamination and disappearance of the different varieties of criollo corn, the introduction of GMOs, and the privatization of the seeds (whose property belongs to the indigenous peoples), the expansion of the agricultural frontier (deforestation, burning of the Amazon), the unrestricted use of agrochemicals, monoculture, the destruction of fruit/wild plants (majo, azai…), and the decrease in diets and eating habits. It has also become an export product for livestock feed (bovine and pig) that is exported as meat to the growing demand of Russia and China.

. In the case of commercial commodities (soybeans and palm oil), these are known for their negative environmental impact; by GMOs and their intensive use of agrochemicals (herbicides...) that contaminate soils, water, kill biodiversity; cause harm to human health; and contaminate the other seed varieties. Due to its growing international demand, even greater exports are generated due to the shortage of the internal market in the countries (through its derivatives such as oil, or meat). Another thing is the promotion of the production and export of organic soy, which achieves higher productive yields and has no negative impact on the environment.

Products should have been selected that are representative of the productive and socio-cultural context of each productive system according to country/region/continent; with a more comprehensive approach, seeking productive diversification that is the basis of sustainability, with an agroecological approach and conservation agriculture.

It should seek to improve the production and diversification of the productive units of the producers, emphasizing their diversified production + their small livestock combined with plants/forestry, fishing; that implement sustainability actions

The objective must be food security, supported by a sustainable global food system that seeks the food and nutritional security of the population.

2. The problem in our countries is the deterioration of natural resources: especially land and the growing and irrational use of water. So, actions must be carried out/implemented to improve the health of the soil, of the earth, and thus we will have improved the health of the plants, of the shrubs, of the crops.

. It is necessary to support the strengthening of the organic raw material of the earth, which in many countries and regions is overexploited, depleted, which influences the low productive yields.

. It is necessary to improve the tillage of the soil, not with any machinery/technology that destroys the land and displaces labor, but with machinery appropriate to the physical environment, complemented with instruments/utensils typical of the place in order to adequately conserve the land and its properties.

. We must emphasize the increase in productive yields, not based on agrochemicals or on the expansion of the agricultural frontier (which clears and burns the forest) but on the basis of Conservation Agriculture, technical training, support with credits, exchange of knowledge; interdisciplinary collaboration.

. It is necessary to support the search for water sources, their conduction, their reserves and their good administration/management in the use for agricultural activities exclusively, and not for uses of extraction of minerals, hydrocarbons, urbanizations.



1. The Barriers

COVID has highlighted that the Public Policies (PP) were specifically aimed at supporting export products (soybeans, sugar cane...) and not the basic consumption products of the population.

The interruptions in the supply chain of products that came from abroad (imports and contraband) plus the high cost of energy have caused a very serious social unrest that has been controlled very well, in the case of Bolivia, by Public Policies food supply (Ex EMAPA in Bolivia, see

The main barriers.-

. Lack of appropriate research for each region/each reality in the different systems

. Lack of investment in production and transformation infrastructure

. Lack of training/exchange of experiences

. Lack of information (markets, prices, product demand…)

. The lack of comprehensiveness

of all the barriers mentioned above, which must be implemented jointly and continuously, and not in a disparate and eventual way.

2. The Results

For a sustainable transformation of food systems that benefits the inhabitants, protects natural resources and biodiversity, urgent measures must be taken to reduce the pressure from international trade; reduce agricultural expansion (which occurs at the cost of burning the Amazon, for example) and the rampant increase in economic development that encourages the unrestricted use of fertilizers and pesticides; the irrational use/wasting of land and water; unemployment, migration, the growing expansion of peri-urban sectors among others.


3. What are the direct effects

For a sustainable transformation of food systems that benefit the population; to natural resources and the environment, it is necessary and urgent to stop the extractivist system prevailing in large regions/countries, which encourages the expansion of the agricultural frontier; the intensive use of agrochemicals (fertilizers and pesticides) and also the exploitation of mineralogical resources such as gold (intensive use of mercury that kills biodiversity, contaminates water and land, and harms human health).

4. Examples of intervention.

. Support agroforestry production that protects natural ecosystems (small/medium scale diversified agriculture + small animal husbandry + plant protection/cultivation + protection of forest wealth) that are sustainable.

. Restoration of degraded ecosystems emphasizing the rehabilitation/fortification of soils.

. The intervention of the Food Production Support Company (EMAPA-Bolivia which has controlled inflation by controlling food speculation generated by the Ukraine-Russia conflict; which controls the prices of basic foods, creates food reserves (silos), purchases in advance with adequate prices to avoid private hoarding, direct sale of food through state companies; sale of inputs to food industries; restrictions on food exports whose products do not satisfy the domestic consumption/market, subsidized support for the collection and marketing of basic foods, among others.


Julio Prudencio B.

Dear Mr. Karki, 

I appreciate all of you allowing me to participate in this online discussion on transformative food system. Also, thanks to the many contributors for the meaningful inputs. 

For a successful transformative food system, it must address the issues of large-scale land grabs by multinational companies. The project should seek to strengthen customary land rights and promote agro-ecology. The project needs to address competing land use for monoculture plantations such as (oil palm, rubber, etc.) and small-scale farmers and family farmers.  It is difficult to transform the food system when customary land rights are not respected and protected.

Build or work in effective partnerships and collaborations. This is essential to ensure a transformative food system. Considering the multiple problems from climate change, and COVID-19, to conflict, diverse expertise is needed through a well-coordinated and concerted effort.