Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

16 October 2021

World Food Day

What can the 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.

Raising awareness about the mutual benefits of change builds public support and political will to transform agri-food systems. CSOs and NGOs need to mobilize campaigns, events and networks that help individuals to be active in related legislative and political processes. These activities need to give a voice to vulnerable stakeholders, particularly the world's poor. Consider the views and opinions of smallholder farmers, indigenous peoples, women, youth and marginalized groups. We can only transform food systems if everyone is involved.

Civil society needs to advocate for fair, legitimate and transparent government policy- and decision-making. All issues tied to food and agriculture should consider everybody’s interests. Increase effective and targeted interventions that include the most vulnerable in efforts to transform food systems. Build on experience in participatory approaches, poverty alleviation and sustainable agriculture by acting quickly and flexibly.

Promote nutrition knowledge and cooking skills among school-age children, youth and adults. Encourage communal mealtimes, socializing around food and sustainable food choices. Give people of all ages the tools to foster healthy diets and reduce food waste.

Help food producers and their organizations to be prepared and resilient. Promote local knowledge and innovation by increasing access to education and training on a range of topics from nutrition to sustainable production, post-harvest loss reduction, agri-business, digital technologies, extension services, social protection, early warning systems, and crop varieties or animal breeds that are resistant to the effects of climate change.