Sustainable Food Systems hold the possibility of reorganizing relationships between producers. The purpose of this Core Initiative is to map, through multi-actor participatory approaches, the markets that contribute to creating sustainable food systems and to develop nutrition sensitive value chain approaches at the country level.

Sectors of activity
Agricultural and Fishery, Food & Beverage

Type of initiative
Capacity Building & Implementation, Policy Frameworks & Tools, Research, Analysis, Assessment

Type of lead actors
United Nations / intergovernmental organizations, Scientific and Technical

Start date


The specific objectives are to: 1) Develop a participatory methodology to map and analyze existing initiatives, in developing and developed countries; 2) Gather and share knowledge and experiences through workshops and develop guidance materials on how to implement these innovations; 3) Provide policy support to public, private and civic actors who want to support these types of approaches


Specifically, we will focus on innovative markets for sustainable agricultural products through the cross-fertilization of ideas across all world regions. Working from the premise that a diversity of strategies leads to more resilient systems, we will explore the variety of value chains (short and global) and institutional innovations (such as voluntary standards and Participatory Guarantee Systems) that can act as incentives for the adoption of sustainable agriculture practices. The approch expands the VC concept to look at synergies with other markets for inputs, services (finance, certification, laboratory testing) and farmer advice, so to better capture system dynamics.

The project is made up of four activities with the following deliverables:

Deliverable 1: A Regional Workshop on "Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainable Agro-food Systems in Latin America and the Caribbean"

The objective of D1 is to build a regional program on SFS starting with a stock-taking and planning workshop. It will focus on promoting dialogue and exchange of concepts, approaches and experiences on sustainable agro-food systems in Latin America and the Caribbean and will generate actionable knowledge by developing collaborative workplans.

Deliverable 2: A Methodology for mapping markets for sustainable food systems.

D2 will develop a method for mapping the existing (territorial) markets where small-scale producers and consumers are most engaged, specifically those that deliver sustainable, safe and healthy food. The intent is to mobilize a network of researchers and practitioners from each continent who can co-develop a robust crowd-sourcing method and take part in data collection.

Deliverable 3: Development of participatory guarantee systems and short value chains for Geographical Indications

The objective of D3 is to focus on adapting participatory guarantee systems (PGS) to the regulatory regime of Geographic Indications (GIs). GIs can be used by producers to protect and brand specific qualities, but often rely upon costly third-party certification. The deliverable will conduct research and develop guidance on how GIs that use PGS can contribute to SFS.

Deliverable 4: Practitioner guide for innovative markets

The objective is of D4 is to provide guidance to intermediaries who are innovating in food systems in order to make them more sustainable. The project uses a participatory approach to co-produce, with value chain intermediaries, guidance that can be used to remove bottlenecks that practitioners encounter when transitioning towards more sustainable food systems.

Impact and Results

This initiative provides an opportunity to begin significant original work at international, regional, national and local levels on sustainable food systems.

The approaches that are developed here are done in a participatory manner so that all partners will be able to take ownership of the results immediately and integrate them into their workplans.

Next steps and how to get involved