September 21, 2021

Landscapes In the United Nations Food Systems Summit: An EcoAg Update on Solutions, National Pathways and Next Steps for the Landscape Community

Sara ScherrEcoAgriculture Partners Juan RamosEcoAgriculture Partners

The United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) will be held on September 23, 2021, as part of the United Nations General Assembly. Sara Scherr, EcoAgriculture Partners president and CEO, has been busy as part of UNFSS leadership teams working on Nature-Positive Production (Action Track 3) and Territorial Governance (Action Area on Governance).

After months of dialogue, analysis and proposing solutions, this month’s UNFSS will finally launch real action and carry out strategies to transform how people grow, make, distribute and consume food. When the summit ends, different UN agencies, member countries and coalitions will lead implementation.

The work will continue until the very end, and we will get a clearer picture of the road ahead after the summit. However, before then, we want the landscape community to review and reflect on the wide variety of solutions and opportunities that has emerged from UNFSS.

A wealth of dialogue and ideas
So far, work leading up to the summit has resulted in relevant new knowledge and materials that professionals can integrate into the landscapes in which they operate. Contributors have proposed many well-developed and insightful analyses and recommendations to transform our food systems. These ideas address opportunities and barriers in food systems finance, governance, science, production, capacities, technology, innovation and others. The voluntary and collaborative work of hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals working on food systems worldwide have resulted in proposed solutions, published analytical reports and engaging dialogues. Search through these solutions here.

Summit solutions for landscapes
EcoAgriculture Partners is just one of the organizations that have been deeply involved in this effort. We have had several proposed solutions published on Landscape Finance, Strengthening Landscape Partnerships and Territorial Governance. We have also joined the Coalition on Agroecology and Regenerative Agriculture in making an institutional commitment. We highly encourage professionals to dedicate time to understand how many of our peers and colleagues, many of whom are working through an integrated landscape management lens, are proposing solutions, forming coalitions and developing recommendations to transform food systems.

National-level pathways and coalitions
Dialogues spearheaded by countries have led to national pathways in the UNFSS process. These pathways are how each country envisions achieving its national food systems vision, which focuses particularly on marginalized communities with the least resources and influence that tend to be hardest to reach. These pathway roadmaps can serve as points of reference across government and for all stakeholders in the coming years.

Food systems can negatively or positively impact land use, environment, agriculture, nutrition, infrastructure, industrial and other interconnected development planning processes. In addition, different coalitions responding to country needs have been organized around four action areas: 1) nourish all people; 2) boost nature-based solutions for production; 3) advance equitable livelihoods, decent work and empowered communities; and 4) build resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stresses.

Given the increasing relevance of food systems for country and multistakeholder dialogue and action, we as a community must consider incorporating food systems into our work across landscapes. This is why EcoAgriculture Partners wants to encourage everyone to reflect on the work that has emerged from this nearly year-long multistakeholder process and think of how all of these solutions, coalitions pathways and emerging trends connect to your own work in landscapes.

Look for your countries’ national convenors, statements and pathways here. Find the emerging list of coalitions here.

What we hope will continue after the summit
Many contributors have helped develop solid food systems components. However, we see three areas that need more work:

  • Analyze and demonstrate how food systems transformation will be functional and practical within landscapes.
  • The technical aspect and linking of strategies across natural infrastructure, agroecology, nutrition and other approaches.
  • Ecosystems management for resilience and agricultural productivity has not been a strong focus and needs to be strengthened moving forward.

Next steps
This is just the starting point of the work from the UNFSS. As a landscape community, we need to be thinking about what we want to work on and who we want to engage with as a part of implementing the good ideas that come from the summit. We will keep you posted on opportunities to collaborate for landscape perspectives to implementation and encourage you to do the same!

The real work is only just beginning.

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