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The objective of the publication "Towards a Common Understanding of Sustainable Food Systems: Key approaches, concepts and terms" is to facilitate knowledge and promote a common understanding of key approaches, concepts, and terms related to sustainable food systems among a broad range of relevant stakeholders, globally. Why is this needed?

Current food systems around the world are straining under the weight of multiple challenges that are multidimensional and interrelated. They  require a profound transformation that can only be achieved through a systems-based approach that takes into account the multiple interconnections and trade-offs across the food system, while seeking to simultaneously maximize societal outcomes across environmental, social (incl. health) and economic dimensions. Such an approach also calls for multi-stakeholder collaboration and other forms of innovative partnerships.  

But what does this mean? And how is it done? And what solutions and approaches can be taken to implement this so-called "sustainable food systems approach"? Do we have an understanding of its meaning? Stakeholders across the globe face different challenges, have different socio-cultural backgrounds, different levels of knowledge across different disciplines. Reaching a common understanding on concepts, terms and approaches based on best available evidence and knowledge (including traditional) lays the basic foundation for joint problem-solving.That is why a task group of the SFS Programme took on the ambitious endeavour to create a publication that would start to bridge a common understanding, including as a contribution to the UN’s 2021 Food Systems Summit and its follow-up. The aim is for this publication to become a reference document for anyone working toward more sustainable consumption and production patterns in the area of food and agriculture. It is intended as a living document that will be reviewed as the science and knowledge around food systems evolves.

The SFS Programme member organizations that formed part of the task group are: Switzerland, Biovision Foundation, CIHEAM, FAO, IFOAM - Organics International, INRAE, Nestlé, Pinpoint Sustainability, UNEP, UN Nutrition and USDA. Further important contributions were received from the SFS Programme’s Multi-stakeholder Advisory Committee, and through a broad open online consultation.


Task team frormed by:

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