На пути к общему пониманию устойчивых продовольственных систем

Dear Members,

The Sustainable Food Systems Programme (SFS Programme) of the UN One Planet network (10YFP) is currently developing a publication on key approaches, concepts and terms in relation to sustainable food systems.

While global awareness for the need to transition towards more sustainable food systems is growing, stakeholders use a diversity of language with regard to sustainable food systems and have differing views about what they are and how they can be achieved. However, a common understanding of the challenges to be addressed and the approaches to meet these challenges, is a crucial ingredient to bring about the multi-stakeholder collaboration required for the transformation of our food systems in line with the SDGs. Against this background, the publication aims to promote such a common understanding, by involving food system actors from all stakeholder groups in its development, from conception to drafting and final editing. To make it as inclusive as possible, we would like to invite you to share your inputs and views on the draft v1.0.

The SFS Programme is a global multi-stakeholder partnership with a network of currently more than 150 key food system actors worldwide. Promoting a holistic, system-based approach towards more integrated and inclusive policy-making, the Programme’s goal is to accelerate the shift towards sustainable food systems, through both normative as well as action-oriented work implemented by collaborative initiatives. The ambition of the publication is to become a reference document for anyone working towards more sustainable consumption and production patterns in the area of food and agriculture. It explores the Sustainable Food Systems Approach and a series of related key concepts and approaches, and contains a glossary with definitions of terms that are of relevance to sustainable food systems.

The current draft has been developed in collaboration with the SFS Programme’s Multi-stakeholder Advisory Committee. The goal of this consultation is to further open up the drafting phase to the entire SFS Programme network and beyond, to the widest possible set of stakeholders. All comments will be duly considered provided that they are in line with the scope of the publication and the SFS Programme’s basic texts.

We invite you to consider the following questions:

  • Does the draft adequately explain the principal components of a sustainable food systems approach (section 2.1.) and put the latter in relation to the approaches discussed in section 3.1.?
  • Are the key concepts in relation to sustainable food systems in section 2.2. well defined and described, including their importance for this publication?
  • Is the list of terms in chapter 4 complete, are any important terms missing (if yes, please submit together with the respective definitions) or do you think certain terms may be redundant?

For more information on the One Planet SFS Programme, please visit: www.oneplanetnetwork.org/sustainable-food-system

We thank you for your valuable contribution and for helping us strengthen and promote a global common language and understanding of sustainable food systems.

Alwin Kopse
Deputy Assistant Director-General

Head International and Food Security Unit

Federal Office for Food and Agriculture FOAG, Switzerland

В настоящее время это мероприятие закрыто. Пожалуйста, свяжитесь с [email protected] для получения любой дополнительной информации.

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Max Blanck

European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)

Dear all,

We are happy to inform you that the publication “Towards a Common Understanding of Sustainable Food Systems”, has been officially released as part of the 3rd Global Conference of the One Planet Network Sustainable Food Systems Program. The comments you provided through this online consultation have been instrumental in making this publication as comprehensive and complete as possible.

You can access the full publication here: https://www.oneplanetnetwork.org/resource/towards-common-understanding-sustainable-food-systems-key-approaches-concepts-and-terms 

Best regards
Your FSN Forum Team

Max Blanck

European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)

Dear all,

We would like to share with you a quick update on the process

With the 2021 Food Systems Summit on the horizon, the finalization of the SFS Toolbox and thus also the Glossary have again gained momentum.

The inputs gained through the online consultation have been carefully analyzed and inserted into a matrix, which is being used by the authors of the different sections to improve the draft.

The final draft including the consolidated changes is scheduled to be ready by June, with the finalized Glossary scheduled to be published before the end of this year.

We will let you know as soon as the SFS Toolbox and the Glossary will be available.

Best regards

Michelle Miller

United States of America

The report is an excellent first draft. and frames many of the issues very well. My specific comments are:

  • It would be helpful to take a step back and discuss the food systems as a cyclic system ideally -- for instance, including refridgeration, and packaging as part of the system, as well as ownership and labor structures.
  • Adding reference to FAO-ILO work on decent work in agriculture and food systems would be welcome.
  • Instead of the original concept of sustainable agriculture as a three-legged stool of environmental, social and economic sustainability, I've been using a systemic emergence model. The environmental sphere is the base of all social systems. And well-being (of which economic success is but one measure) emerges from social systems. Profitability and economic systems are culturally derived so language around economic sustainability is difficult to translate. In work with traditional communities I hear it expressed as the difference between community food systems and enterprise.
  • Market access for all scales of production is a critical piece to address, especially as buyer power increases in concentrated segments of food supply chains.
  • Sustainable food systems work must identify leverage points that can be used to improve food systems so that they serve our well-being.
  • There is mention of regional, national or subnational -- this terminology may be misconstrued in a North American context (and maybe on other continents?) where regional can mean subnational. Maybe use state, multistate or intrastate?
  • A holistic food systems assessment needs to include study of food flow (production and its associated supply chains) and labor.
  • Part of sustainable diet includes access to food and also farmer access to markets.
  • It is critical not to fall into the trap that the goal is to sustain the current system. Instead sustainability is aspirational - we want to sustain resources to improve well-being for all living things.
  • The term "value chain" has a distinct meaning for businesses, where the values (ie profit or market access or reduced business risk) accrue to the business, not to the public. Our USDA working group on Agriculture of the Middle instead uses the term "values-based supply chains" to distinquish the situation where business people share values about the public good and agree to share risk across the independent businesses in the supply chain. See the article: Values based food supply chains: strategies for agri-food enterprises of the middle (Stevenson and Pirog, June 2013).

Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts on this report.

Michelle Miller

Associate Director, UW-CIAS

Walter Pengue

Universidad de Buenos Aires

Thank you very much, for inviting me, for this consultation process.

The document is interesting and include keypoint issues relevante for sustainable food systems approach. However, it focuses as it is, on the repetition of concepts already elaborated in other contexts.


On my perspective, It would be useful to add the following perspectives to it:

1) the contribution of culture to the food system and especially the cases and examples of peasant and indigenous productions.

2) The contribution and the role of new technologies. If the document points to a projection, the opening to the perspective of the pros & cons of new technologies in agricultural and food production this should be included. The benefits and the costs, no only mencioning modern biotechnology eg., instead, proteomic, genomic, systhetic production and the relevance of innovation (soft & hard innovation), e.g.

3) A strong orientated profile towards promoting European or first world knowledge logics is detected in the document, when an adequate balance should be available. Even the examples of systems (For example, that of Brazil), is a minor example, when Brazil has a whole national system linked to production, consumption and extension.

4) The territorial examples and their approaches only to Europeans, are too explicit in the document Need to be open to others "views" of territorios, eg., indigenous peole. This is no the same and please consider it and consult with antropologists, indigenous experst and others.

5) A strong approach and depth in the inclusion of the relevant cases of ASIA and AFRICA is lacking.  CHINA, seems no exist here. And here is the driving forces that are changing the demand of natural resources and foods and where changes can drawn the wordl.

6) LATIN AMERICA is also strongly underconsidered.

7) The document by Pretty et al (2018) is interesting. However, one of the crucial issues in agriculture and food is that of ENERGY. And at this point, in terms of energy balances and especially in the eyes of EMERGIA (Brown, Campbell and others for example) this should be taken into account.

Other approach tha the document is losing is NEXUS.  Particularly when in that you can find the analysis of energy, water, soils and food analysis, and this is part of the approach you are suggesting.

(Giampietro et al, e.g.).

8) The Local Economy and the Local Systems of Production and Consumption are not mentioned. This is key to sustainable food systems that are directly linked to food security and sovereignty.

9) It is striking that NATURAL RESOURCES are not mentioned in depth.

You look at the territories but not the resources. The Resource Panel and its classification should be considered.

10) Porter et al analyzes are also provided in terms of value, but not the important contribution of IPBES to the appropriate framework.

Pascual et al (2017), Diaz et al (2016), IPBES (2018), could be considered.

11) The perspective of TEEB 2018, there is a contribution on food systems and the perspective of "system" as ecoagrifoodsystem. This could be useful to be considered.

12) Three important threats and opportunities should also be considered for sustainable food systems: CLIMATE CHANGE, MIGRATIONS and WAR. Not mentioning and treating it, when it is one of the serious and global political problems, leaves the document with a naive contribution that could be improved in the recommendations.

In summary, it is an interesting document, but you should need broaden your view and approach with the incorporation of some topics that need to be tackled to be a productive and usefull document.

Congratulations for this first approach.

My best regards

Walter Pengue

Universidad de Buenos Aires


[email protected]

Dear members of the FSN Forum,

I am truly impressed by the interest and constructive debates sparked by the v.1.0 draft “Towards a common understanding of Sustainable Food Systems” over the past three weeks. This last week in particular has seen increase in discussions among different Forum members, adding greatly to the global dialogue around food systems. I would therefore like to express a big Thank You to all contributors, both on my own behalf as well as that of the entire One Planet Sustainable Food Systems (SFS) Programme.

The online consultation is now closed. As a next step, we will do an in-depth analysis of all feedback received and do our best effort to integrate all pertinent inputs in the document. In this context we may get back to some of you to expand on specific issues or in case there may be a need for clarification.

In addition, kindly note that the document is scheduled to be presented at the upcoming 2nd global conference of the SFS Programme, taking place on 5-7 February, 2019, in San José, Costa Rica.

The final version will be shared with you all on this platform.

Best regards,

Alwin Kopse
Deputy Assistant Director-General
Head International and Food Security Unit
Federal Office for Food and Agriculture FOAG, Switzerland

Wadzanai Garwe


• Not clear what it takes to use a food systems approach in a country/regional setting. What does it mean applying this type of approach for policymakers and practicioners? What does an enabling environment for the food systems approach actually entail? Put the overview in Table 1 and the analysis of linkages upfront. Also identify the gaps within a given context, when is it appropriate to use one method or can a combination of methods be applied - which method is appropriate for what?

• Section 3.2 title mentions “Interlinkages, overlaps and complementarities” – the interlinkages are not addressed. How do we use different approaches at the same time?

• How can this document be made into a living document, so that relationship between the four components of the tool box – glossary, collaborative framework, capacity development / training and collection of case studies – especially the case studies, can be brought in? How do different sets of users (policy makers, practitioners, civil society, private sector) contribute their experiences to this document over time?

• How can this become a useful tool? It lacks the reality of what is happening on the ground – i.e. learning from the case studies

• privates sector needs to engage more proactively e.g. links to PPPs

Congratulations to the lead authors on a very difficult task of consolidating the copious amount of literature on the seamless topic of food systems.   I think the glossary is moving in the right direction and with some more depth in some of the areas raised in the online debate, it will be a very useful reference resource for those starting to navigate the elements that need to be considered for a sustainable food system. The below may help with this.

- Overall the thrust and level of the document is conceptual, reflecting however the design and content of the approaches that are synthesized. If possible it would be good to extract from the approaches reviewed any of those that refer to actual country experiences. This would help the reader contextualize the knowledge shared in the glossary.  

- It may be more useful to introduce earlier the notions of multi-stakeholder engagement and PPPs given that Section 3.3 emphasizes these approaches as the main strategies for promoting sustainable food systems.  

- It may be useful to the reader to have Table 1 closer to the intro and then weave the text around a description and comparison of these approaches.

- Section 1.1 on the Rationale explores the nutrition dimension of FS in para 3, but maybe one or two words could be included in the opening first paragraph.  The para as it stands describes what is unsustainable about current food systems, and as such nutrition should be touched upon.   

- The last line of the third paragraph could also be easily expanded to include a reference on the estimated cost to the public sector of unhealthy diets and non-communicable diseases.

-  Paragraph 4 refers to the need to address ‘all’ elements of a food systems.  This is debateable and therefore this paragraph and discussion point could be edited or refined.  While a holistic vision of the landscape is needed, countries are at different stages of development, with different priorities depending on the contexts and agricultural and environmental comparative advantages.  The messaging again needs to be refined as it is unrealistic to expect a country to try to tackle ‘all elements’ simultaneously, with priorities and staging required for the process.   

- Paragraph 5 states that “..governments remain in the driving seat”.  This is also debateable.  It could be argued that structural adjustment placed multinational food companies in the driving seat and due to weak cross-national governance mechanisms, this has led to the challenges we face today. On the other hand, in many developing countries, in particular Africa, the public sector holds the reins, with very little private sector input and consultation, which is stifling growth and innovation in the food system. The lack of dialogue is also preventing the identification of solutions which place sustainability at the centre of economic growth.

-  Page 9, paragraph four defines sustainability.  It may be opportune to introduce the idea of nutrition as the fourth pillar of sustainability.   IFAD’s publication with ESN Nutrition sensitive value chains could be helpful here: https://www.ifad.org/documents/38714170/40804965/NSVC+A+guide+for+project+design+-+Vol.+I.+Web+filepdf.pdf.  Also the attached paper from the Climate Change Research Network on What is a Sustainable Diet also discusses this idea https://www.fcrn.org.uk/sites/default/files/fcrn_what_is_a_sustainable_healthy_diet_final.pdf

- Using the document to explore and expand more on the analysis across the approaches, gaps and ways forward.

• Two key systems approaches are missing: market systems and business models

• Definition on p.8: no reference to linkages, value-addition, aggregation, … also “environment” is not clear (enabling or natural or both?), not good to have “etc.” in a definition. Stating “outputs” including “outcomes” is hierarchically incorrect. Consider definition given in Reference 20

• Illustration of food systems: Consider inserting FAO’s food system’s wheel graphic (Figure 1 in Reference 20 “FAO 2018. Sustainable Food Systems: Concept and framework”), perhaps to replace figure 1 on p.10 (although they do not entirely cover the same) or alternatively at the end with the other figures (Annex 1, 2, 3).

• Page 11. Besides tradition and modern, we can distinguish alternate food systems (see FAO SFS course)

• Infrastructure covers more than trade and roads – ICT, energy, irrigation, ….

• P.16 replace sustainability along all food value chains with sustainable food value chains (similar formatting to sustainable diets)

• Sequence of concepts related to the value chain concept. The sequence in page 19 is incorrect. For example, sub-sector analysis, global value chains and market systems approaches are missing. For a more correct sequence, see Reference 54 (FAO 2014 Sustainable food value chains – guiding principles).

• P.21 reference is made to intermediary actors, but it is better to refer to these as input and support services providers (in line with the lit referenced)

• Sustainable intensification seems mostly concerned with agronomic performance – not triple bottom line sustainability.

• Territorial development: Could mention territorial approaches to agro-industry development (e.g. agri-food parks or Special Economic Zones (SEZ) as well as Rapid Urban Food Systems Appraisal Tools (RUFSAT)

• Table p.39: SFVC approach column is incorrect – it should be the same as SFS approach, except for at the end it should say “commodity” in terms of level of analysis

• PPPs – add reference to FAO literature on this

• Section 4: missing are definitions for: business model approaches, value-added, triple bottom line, consumer environment, market system approaches

• Not clearly indicated what a SFS approach is in practice. How does it link to the individual (sub-system) approaches?