Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

16 October 2021

World Food Day

Nature works tirelessly on our behalf providing us with our essential needs - water, food, clean air, medicine, and materials for shelter. But the way we produce, consume and waste food is putting unnecessary pressure on natural resources, the environment and climate. It’s time for us to learn from nature and work with it, not against it.

Agri-food systems are like ecosystems in that everything is connected but we need to make choices and actions that help them develop a better synergy. People from all walks of life, their livelihoods, our health and that of our planet need nurturing to thrive.

Trees clean our air and cool our cities, but they also work as a community. They communicate with their roots and share resources, like nutrients for food. As a global community, we each have a role to play in the transformation of agri-food systems - from governments to private companies, farmers, civil society, academia, and all individuals, including youth! Together we can empower each and every element of our agri-food systems to collaborate more fairly, sustainably and inclusively from farm to table, and beyond.

We can all learn from nature by acting with nature.

What can you do?

Billions of consumers worldwide need to shift old consumption patterns in order to transform food systems for the better. Change is in our hands. We can work with nature and influence what the market provides by opting for nutritious and environmentally and socially responsible products. This puts pressure on governments to design greener, more sustainable policies, promote better production, while motivating greater investment in sustainable healthy diets. Here’s where you can start.

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What can governments do?

Better policies and legislation, investment and good governance can build nature-friendly, sustainable agri-food systems that are more inclusive and resilient. Governments and institutions can make healthy diets a reality for all through a strategic, integrated and inclusive approach across sectors. Innovation, indigenous knowledge, women and youth all have a role to play in achieving a greener, fairer and better world for all.

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What can the private sector do?

Private companies need to be socially responsible and support public health goals. From following national food legislations, priorities and guidelines to transforming operations and approaches. Private companies can help to produce or promote nutritious and safe foods at an affordable price for all, contributing to sustainable healthy diets. Here is a list of actions that different sectors can adopt.

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What can farmers do?

Men and women in agriculture, fisheries and forestry are our primary sources for nutritious foods. As guardians of the planet’s natural resources, their decisions lie at the roots of transforming agri-food systems. Innovative technologies and training, finance, incentives and social protection can help farmers to provide sustainable healthy diets locally and globally. Here are some actions farmers can consider with the right support.

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What can academia do?

Knowledge, innovation and capacity building are the path to change. Research and academic institutions have the tools to support decision makers in the world’s agri-food systems. They need to strengthen data collection, analyses and monitoring at national level. By capturing, harmonizing and breaking down data across all aspects of food systems, and fostering knowledge sharing for all, research and academia can be more inclusive.

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What can civil society do?

Civil society organizations (CSOs) and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) play a critical role in transforming food systems. As trunks provide vital links between a tree’s roots and leaves, the work of CSOs and NGOs is crucial for individuals and communities whose voices are not always heard. Their key technical expertise and strong presence in vulnerable or remote communities act as bridges to isolated areas that need to be reached. Civil society unites multiple agents of change, from marginalized peoples to policy-makers.

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