Members' Research Service By / November 19, 2021

United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021: Process, challenges and the way forward

On 16 October 2019 – World Food Day – the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General called for a UN Food Systems Summit (UN FSS) to be held in 2021, with a view to transforming ‘the way the world produces, consumes and thinks about food’, as a crucial step to progress on all 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs).

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Written by Anna Caprile.

The culmination of two years’ preparatory work and worldwide mobilisation events, the United Nations Food Systems Summit took place on 23 September 2021. The idea behind the summit, initiated by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, was to start a process of transforming the way the world produces, consumes and thinks about food – as a crucial step in progressing on all 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs).

The summit was announced in October 2019 – before the Covid‑19 pandemic became a hunger crisis in many parts of the world – and the stakes have since risen acutely, bringing a new sense of urgency and creating an opportunity to boost the level of reform ambition for global food systems.

More than 150 countries took part in the event, which took place entirely on line, wrapping up a process that has generated a remarkable level of mobilisation and public debate through multiple platforms. Although the summit revealed ample consensus on the need for a radical reform of food systems, it also evidenced profound divergences as to how to approach the daunting tasks ahead.  

A follow-up mechanism has been designed to advance the national and global transformative actions announced at the summit, and the United Nations Secretary-General will convene a global stock-taking meeting every two years to measure progress.

This briefing updates an earlier edition, published in September 2021 ahead of the Summit.

Read the complete Briefing on ‘United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021: Process, challenges and the way forward‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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