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Public food procurement for sustainable food systems and healthy diets

  • Published on January 25, 2022

The publication on “Public food procurement for sustainable food systems and healthy diets” is the result of a 3 years process, and collaboration between FAO, Bioversity International, and the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul and of the contribution of over 100 authors, including academics, United Nations staff and practitioners. With two volumes and 36 chapters, brings for the first time multi-disciplinary analysis of public food procurement issues in over 32 countries.


According to the document, sustainable public procurement is a key instrument to work towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and fits into the collective efforts and multisector approaches of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The publication explores the multiple benefits that public food procurement can bring to various beneficiaries and analyses how it can contribute towards sustainable food systems and healthy diets. It intends to improve understanding, dissemination and use of public food procurement as a development tool and entry point for food systems transformation.


The preface explains that the idea for this publication arose during the workshop “Institutional Food Procurement and School Feeding Programmes: Exploring the Benefits, Challenges and Opportunities”, organized in 2018 in the framework of the Third International Conference on Agriculture and Food in an Urbanizing Society, hosted by UFRGS in Porto Alegre, Brazil.


This publication is based on the papers presented during the workshop, but goes beyond those papers to offer – for the first time − a comprehensive and extensive analysis of PFP. Leading scholars and practitioners from around the world were invited to contribute to the analysis of the use of PFP initiatives as a policy instrument to achieve multiple development objectives and, in particular, to help build sustainable food systems that offer healthy diets.


The two volumes and 35 chapters of this book were written by more than 100 authors, including academics, United Nations staff and practitioners.


Volume 1 analyses the use of PFP as a development tool, thereby placing it within the broader debate on sustainable public procurement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The volume explores PFP’s multiple potential benefits and beneficiaries, taking into consideration the three pillars of sustainability, i.e. the social, economic and environmental pillars. It argues that PFP can provide support for agricultural production by local and smallholder farmers, promote the conservation and sustainable use of agrobiodiversity, and improve the nutrition and health of communities.


Based on examples and experiences with PFP in 32 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and North and South America, Volume 2 offers extensive evidence of the instruments used to implement PFP, enablers and challenges. It aims to provide useful lessons to policymakers and practitioners involved in the design and implementation of PFP policies and initiatives.


The editors hope this book will also help researchers analyse PFP further. Ultimately, it aims to contribute to the improved understanding, dissemination and use of PFP as a development tool. Although the idea for this book preceded the COVID-19 pandemic, its publication during this pandemic is timely. In the search for answers to this crisis, public procurement and policies that aim to strengthen PFP linkages with local production are receiving more attention than ever, not only as a tool for recovery but also as an opportunity to set an example and take the right track towards more sustainable modes of consumption and production.

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