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The 2nd Global Conference of the SFS Programme: a taste of what took place

  • Published on February 10, 2019

A conference to accelerate collaboration towards sustainable food systems

The 2nd Global Conference of the Sustainable Food Systems Programme took place between 5-7 February 2019 hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of Costa Rica in San José, Costa Rica, convening over 200 actors from the SFS Programme and beyond.

Watch the conference short summary video

The purpose of the conference was to strengthen strategic multi-stakeholder partnerships with key food system actors and donors, provide recommendations, and stimulate higher levels of investments and political commitment for the transition to sustainable food systems. The key outcome of the conference was the issuing of a communiqué containing conference conclusions and a call to action that called upon stakeholders to:

  • Raise the political importance of sustainable food systems among public and private sector leaders, by making the business case: covering both the costs of inaction as well as viable alternatives, taking trade-offs into account, and promoting the value of metrics and data;
  • Make multi-stakeholder collaboration in favor of sustainable food systems work: promoting inclusive and particularly gender sensitive processes to strengthen a common vision and understanding that are conducive to trust building and capacity development.
  • Define actions to make food environments more conducive to sustainable and healthy diets, and identify who should deliver them.


Inaugurated by H.E. Marvin Rodríguez Cordero, Second-Vice President of Costa Rica, together with H.E. Renato Alvarado Rivera, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock of Costa Rica, the conference participants enjoyed keynote addresses, among others, by Dr. Lawrence Haddad, World Food Prize co-Winner (2018) and Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and Dr. Hilal Elver, UN Special Rapporteur on Right to Food.

Panel with Ana Quirós Soto, Vice-Minister Costa Rica
Panel with Ana María Quirós, Vice-Minister of Agriculture Costa Rica

Among several initiatives, policies and rich debates, participants had the opportunity to get a glimpse into forthcoming tools developed within the Sustainable Food Systems Programme. Namely, the "Glossary tool project "Towards a common understanding of Sustainable Food Systems" aims to strengthen and promote a global common language and understanding on the challenges, objectives and approaches around the notion of sustainable food systems. A second actionable tool titled "Collaborative Framework for Food Systems Transformation" provides an approach for collaborative policy making and governance improvement for sustainable food systems. 

The conference also offered participants the opportunity to immerse into the local food system through a set of five learning journeys around San José, to experience and reflect on challenges and solutions. Participants could choose among five differernt locations fo the San José food environment, including:

  • Jesus Maria Watershed: Restoration of production landscapes for improved social and ecological resilience (hosted by UNDP)
  • Popular culture and municipal markets: their role in the local gastronomy
  • San Luis Organic Farm: a family organic farm model
  • Catupuris: a rural organization promoting sustainable food systems
  • Santa Anita: carbon neutral coffee production (hosted by Hivos)
Alfredo Echevarría, Fundación Costarricense de Gastronomía presenting at the conference dinner event
Alfredo Echevarría, Fundación Costarricense de Gastronomía, presenting at the conference dinner event

The conference encouraged participating organizations to issue voluntary commitments towards the transformation of food systems, the most notorious of which was the announcement of an agreement between Costa Rica's Ministries of Environment and Energy and of Agriculture and Livestock to develop joint institutional measures for the development of integral and more diversified farming systems, through agroforestry and silvopastoral practices supported by incentive schemes including payments for ecosystem services and favorable credit for smallholders. You can view all  issued commitments here.


- Story on Food Navigator


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