The UN Secretary General has announced the convening of a UN Food Systems Summit in 2021.
1 November 2019
  • Sustainable Food System
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UN Chief on World Food Day (16 October 2019)


Updated July 2020

During the plenary of the 46th Session of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS), a video of UN Secretary General was displayed in which Mr. Gutérres announced the convening of a UN Food Systems Summit in 2021. The Summit had been jointly requested by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Economic Forum (WEF). According to preliminary discussions, the key objectives of the Summit would be:

  1. Affirming the centrality of food systems to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda;
  2. Aligning stakeholders involved in food systems transformation around a common practical framework;
  3. Strengthening evidence and developing tools for decision makers to make choices on trade-offs;
  4. Promoting a science-policy interface on food systems; and
  5. Accelerating multi-stakeholder actions at different levels.


The One Planet network Sustainable Food Systems Programme as a key platform to contribute to the UN Food Systems Summit

The One Planet network Sustainable Food Systems Programme welcomes this announcement and looks forward to contributing to the UN Food Systems Summit.

With three of the core organising bodies of the UN Food Systems Summit as partners of the Sustainable Food Systems Programme (FAO, IFAD and WEF), the Programme is uniquely placed to contribute to the summit as a collaborative multistakeholder platform comprising diverse voices from across the world. 

In particular, the upcoming 3rd Annual Conference of the One Planet network Sustainable Food Systems Programme taking place in November 2020 represents a key stepping stone towards the UN 2021 Food Systems Summit and will provide a valuable opportunity for key food systems stakeholders to:

  • define actions to make food environments more conducive to sustainable and healthy diets,
  • strengthen a common vision to make multi-stakeholder collaboration a reality, and
  • raise the political importance of sustainable food systems among public and private sector leaders.

Previous editions of the conference harnessed consensus on a range of priority areas for action. The 1st global conference in South Africa concluded with the Pretoria Resolution, while the 2nd global conference in Costa Rica finalized with the San José Call to Action.


The One Planet network Sustainable Food Systems Programme and UN Special Envoy draw path towards for 2021 UN Food Systems Summit

The One Planet network Sustainable Food Systems Programme has also established what is set to be a promising working relationship with with the Special Envoy for the 2021 Food Systems Summit, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, via the Swiss government, a co-lead of the Programme, and the World Economic Forum, a member of the Programme Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Committee.

Dr. Kalibata provided the concluding remarks to the High Level Dialogue on “Investing in Food Systems Transformation event that was co-​organised by the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) and the World Economic Forum's Food Systems Dialogues (FSD) in Davos in January 2020. Dr. Kalibata, highlighted the importance of the event indicating that it marked the launch of the global process towards the UN Food Systems Summit of 2021.

Dr. Kalibata's mission will be that of providing leadership, setting strategic direction, and galvanizing action towards a Summit that aims to "offer a catalytic moment for global public mobilization and actionable commitments to invest in diverse ways to make food systems inclusive, climate adapted and resilient, and support sustainable peace."

In the high-level event, Dr. Kalibata reminded participants of the urgency to accelerate action, with only 10 years left to achieve the SDGs. She stressed that the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit will be an opportunity to bring together all relevant actors and initiatives to figure out how to accelerate the transformation of our food systems, key to fulfilling the SDGs.

Read more of Dr. Kalibata's remarks from this event here.


Considerations for food systems during the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis

The UN Food Systems Summit in 2021 comes at a time when global food systems are facing significant upheaval and challenges due to the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, and its consequences for farmers, food producers, consumers and the entire food value chain.

The One Planet network’s Sustainable Food Systems Programme is increasingly concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and related short and long-term response policies, in particular with regard to the following three key dimensions:

  1. The livelihoods of food systems actors, particularly small farmers and small businesses, as food systems face difficulties operating normally, potentially leading to gaps in food production, access and availability.
  2. The role of diets in exacerbating the health impact of COVID-19 and concern regarding the potential impact of COVID-19 on access to healthy, nutritious and sustainable food, particularly by vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly.
  3. The increasing evidence on the relation of food systems with the growing number of emerging infectious disease outbreaks that are posing a threat global health and economic stability.

Each of these three areas are developed further in the full detailed statement from the Programme on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on sustainable food systems.


WEBINAR: COVID-19 and Sustainable Food Systems - Responses and innovations to tackle vulnerabilities and build back better

The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on sustainable food systems is elaborated upon in detail in the recent webinar from the Programme in which experts and policymakers provided insights on responses, innovations and key measures to both combat the pandemic’s impact and to build sustainable food systems.

The webinar inlcudes:

  • A keynote speech by the WHO Special Envoy for COVID-19, Dr. David Nabarro, preceded by the presentation of findings from two pieces of research from INRAe and UNSCN. Following, two government response examples from Costa Rica and Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul state.
  • First, Vice-minister Ana Cristina Quirós Soto of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of Costa Rica explains how the country has implemented a battery of measures in coordination with a range of food systems actors to guarantee workplace safety, access and availability to healthy food and financial support to livelihoods all while emphasizing the need for urgent progress on climate and environmental targets.
  • Then, the Council of Food Security and Nutrition (CONSEA) of Rio Grande do Sul state has been responding to the food and nutrition security crisis brought on by COVID-19 through four areas of action. With closed schools, children’s access to food has been compromised. We will learn how CONSEA’s structure has facilitated a coordinated, agile response. In Brazil, the main advisory bodies at national and state level on food related matters, are the Councils of Food Security and Nutrition (CONSEAs). They were created in the 2000s with an innovative multi-stakeholder architecture, as a means to provide for more participatory decisio-making.
  • To close, practitioners from FAO, IFAD, UNEP and WWF kicked off a discussion highlighting why a systems-based, collaborative response is essential to both counter the vulnerabilities highlighted by COVID-19 as well as to build sustainable food systems.

Watch a recording of the full webinar here.


  • Sustainable Food System
Food, Policy, Systems change