Food systems-based dietary guidelines (FSBDGs, 2024)

This document is a brief introduction to the new food systems-based dietary guidelines (FSBDGs) methodology developed by FAO, which not only aims to address health and nutritional priorities but takes a food system approach to promote healthy diets, by considering socio-cultural, economic, and environmental sustainability.

Why is a food systems-based methodology necessary?

Most countries have developed dietary guidelines with a focus on improving consumers’ nutrition and overall health. Such guidelines have been mainly used for nutrition education. Only a few countries have extended their use to inform policies and interventions in other sectors, such as in public procurement and social protection.

To leverage their potential for doing more in other sectors, some countries have included sustainability considerations in new or revised dietary guidelines. However, the methodologies and approaches used by these countries differ significantly from one another and are seldom made public.

The international community has recognized the potential and need for dietary guidelines to catalyze food systems transformation towards sustainability and to influence policies beyond the scope of consumer education. However, at present, there is a lack of global guidance and tools to facilitate this.

To fill in this gap, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has developed the new food systems-based dietary guidelines (FSBDGs) methodology through a collaborative process involving multiple global, regional, and country-level experts.

Innovative Food Systems Teaching and Learning (IFSTAL)

IFSTAL (Innovative Food Systems Teaching and Learning) is a cross-university, interdisciplinary food systems training programme for postgraduate students to address global food challenges.

There is an urgent need to train a cohort of professionals who can address and resolve the increasing number of fundamental failings in the global food system. The solutions to these systemic failings go far beyond the production of food and are embedded within broad political, economic, business, social, cultural, and environmental contexts. The challenge of developing efficient, socially acceptable, and sustainable food systems that meet the demands of a growing global population can only be tackled through an interdisciplinary systems approach that integrates social, economic, and environmental dimensions.

IFSTAL is designed to improve post-graduate level knowledge and understanding of food systems from a much broader interdisciplinary perspective, which can be applied to students’ studies. Ultimately, these graduates should be equipped to apply critical interdisciplinary systems thinking in the workplace to understand how problems are connected, their root causes, and where critical leverage points might be.

Led by the Food Systems Research Programme at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, IFSTAL is a pioneering consortium of institutions: Oxford University, Warwick University, Royal Veterinary College, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)

A pathway to personal, population and planetary health for dietitians and nutrition professionals (2023 Nov)

MacKenzie-Shalders, K. L., Barbour, L., Charlton, K., Cox, G. R., Lawrence, M., Murray, S., Newberry, K., Senior, N. M., Stanton, R., & Tagtow, A. M. (2023). A pathway to personal, population and planetary health for dietitians and nutrition professionals. Public Health Nutrition, Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1002/puh2.137

Abstract

Background

Earth and all its inhabitants are threatened by a planetary crisis; including climate change, deforestation, biodiversity loss and pollution. Dietitians and nutrition professionals have a responsibility to lead transformational change in contemporary food and health systems to help mitigate this crisis. The study aims to develop a conceptual framework to support dietitians towards personal, population and planetary health.

Methods

Non-empirical methods were used by the co-researchers to explore and explain the application of an international framework ‘Next-Generation Solutions to Address Adaptive Challenges in Dietetics Practice: The I + PSE Conceptual Framework for Action’. (I+PSE = Individual plus Policy, System, and Environmental)

Results

A non-sequential pathway guide to personal, population and planetary health for nutrition professionals was developed including several key guiding principles of Agency, Action, Ascension, Alignment, Alliance and Allyship, and Advocacy and Activism. Each guiding principle features descriptors and descriptions to enhance dietitian and nutrition professional

  • Agency (i.e. vision, self-belief, confidence, strength and responsibility),
  • Action (i.e. start, shift, translate, achieve and commit),
  • Ascension (i.e. build, overcome, manage, challenge and progress),
  • Alignment (i.e. leadership, transparency, diplomacy, values and systems),
  • Alliance and Allyship (i.e. support, collaborate, represent, community and citizenship) and
  • Advocacy and Activism (i.e. disrupt, co-design, transform, empower and urgency).

The framework and its descriptors support enhanced understanding and are modifiable and flexible in their application to guide the participation of dietitians and nutrition professionals in transformational change in personal, population and planetary health. This guide acknowledges that First Nations knowledge and customs are important to current and future work within this field.

Conclusions

Alongside the international body of work progressing in this field, this framework and visual guide will support dietitians and nutrition professionals to achieve urgent, transformational change in personal, population and planetary health.

Agriculture, Food and Climate Action Toolkit (2023 Dec)

The Agriculture, Food and Climate Action Toolkit aims to help national policymakers translate global climate and food commitments into local actions directly supports the COP28 Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action. The opportunity for the Declaration’s signatories to translate their commitments into ambitious national-level action lies in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs).

The toolkit is 40-pages and mentions nutrition throughout. Priority actions identified in the Toolkit include shifting to nature-positive food production, reducing and repurposing food loss and waste, and transitioning to nutritious and healthy diets. Only a combination of these actions will bring food-based greenhouse gas emissions within a 1.5 degrees Celsius carbon budget, and ensure that food producers can adapt to changes in what, where and how they can grow and harvest food.

It identifies six priorities for policymakers to incorporate in updated NDCs and NAPs, provides a series of case studies from countries already integrating food systems actions in their national climate plans, and gives an overview of existing resources that can enable the enhancement, replication and scaling of successful practices.

Although most countries have introduced at least one food-based measure in their NDCs and NAPs, many continue to face significant challenges in holistically integrating and implementing food system measures. Most countries focus on food production, with a limited number including actions on food loss and waste, and only a handful considering consumption and diets. By identifying good examples from different parts of the world, the toolkit will support policymakers in introducing additional measures that will deliver the most impact in their own context.

The COP28 Agriculture, Food and Climate Action Toolkit was produced by a taskforce – which included WWF, Global Alliance for the Future of Food, Climate Focus, NDC Partnership, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations, CGIAR and the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT – convened by the UAE COP28 Presidency and will be a valuable resource for countries as they transform their food systems to both mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Sustainable Food Systems Network (EUFIC)

European Food Information Council (EUFIC)‘s Global Sustainable Food Systems Network facilitates communication and collaboration amongst stakeholders in sustainable food systems (SFS) across the globe. In this community, you will find policy makers, business professionals, civil society organizations, researchers, NGOs/non-profit organizations, funding agencies and interested citizens. The network allows members to:

  • Add to and use the resources section
  • Reach out to members through the chat in a field/topic you are interested in. Network, ask questions, build bridges. Chat conversations are private and confidential!
  • Publish about events you are organizing regarding SFS (on average, 30-120 members attend events shared in the feed!)
  • Peruse the calendar of events shared by other members.
  • Share calls, documents, reports, papers, etc. that you think are interesting for the whole community.
  • Ask the community for feedback and start a conversation, e.g. by creating a poll!
  • Share job openings as “opportunities”. The network currently spans 2000+ people, and their personal networks spread much further.

The SFSN Community leaders send a biweekly newsletter with featured shared events, opportunities, posts, and new members for further dissemination.

If you have any feedback, questions or would like to get more involved, email sfsn@eufic.org or contact us directly through the chat (search Community Managers).

Global Food Systems Network Map

The Global Food Systems Network Map is a powerful online tool designed to visually represent the relationships among stakeholders involved in food systems-related efforts worldwide. 

Given the varied and dynamic nature of global food systems, it is often challenging to track projects and partners. This Network Map, created by Meridian Institute, aims to alleviate these challenges by illustrating the landscape of multi-stakeholder initiatives working across food systems, including what issues these initiatives are working on and how they are driving change.

This Network Map will help organizations working in food systems both identify opportunities for collaboration and gather insights on how to focus efforts and resources for maximum collective impact.

The Network Map is hosted on Kumu, an interactive network visualization tool. Learn more about how to navigate the Map here.

JHND Special Issue: Sustainable Food Systems and Dietary Patterns in Nutrition and Dietetic Practice (2023 Dec)

The British Dietetic Association’s Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics (JHND) published a Special Issue on Sustainable Food Systems and Dietary Patterns in Nutrition and Dietetic Practice edited by: Liesel Carlsson, Angela Madden, and Kalliopi-Anna Poulia (Volume 36, Issue 6, Pages: 2121-2350, December 2023).

Twelve of the sixteen articles are open access and cover a wide range of practice settings.

  • Open Access – Conceptualising sustainability in Canadian dietetic practice: A scoping review – Dietitians are well-positioned to promote sustainable food systems and diets. This research identifies practice activities described in the Canadian published literature and compares these with dietetic competency standards. Increasing practitioners’ ability to analyse issues using systems thinking will help address complex challenges. Updates to competency standards and curricular supports are needed to support this area of practice.
  • Open Access – Local food procurement by hospitals: a scoping review – There is a paucity of peer-reviewed studies describing local food procurement by hospitals. Details of local food procurement models were generally lacking: categorisable as either purchases made ‘on-contract’ via conventional means or ‘off-contract’. If hospital foodservices are to increase their local food procurement, they require access to a suitable, reliable and traceable supply, that acknowledges their complexity and budgetary constraints.

From Plate To Planet (2023 Nov)

The IPES-Food report From Plate To Planet identifies inspiring examples of comprehensive food and climate action by city and regional governments drawn from Glasgow Declaration signatories. The report urges national governments to stop neglecting food systems in their climate pledges, and to pay attention to the pioneering emissions-slashing efforts of cities and regions.

Top line messages:

1 – We cannot limit global warming to 1.5C without much more urgent and far reaching action to transform food systems.

2 – Cities and regional governments are pioneering action on food and climate change – and the frontrunners are even linking up actions and measuring their progress. The report details dozens of inspiring examples and stories of effective on-the-ground action. They are cutting emissions by promoting healthy and sustainable diets, reducing food waste, shortening food chains, training organic farmers, and ensuring their poorest inhabitants can access healthy and sustainable food.

3 – Their actions to holistically reduce emissions from food systems and encourage healthy, sustainable food for all ​​provide a blueprint for action on food and climate. This blueprint is one in which social justice, participation, accountability are put at the heart of climate action.

4 – Such innovative action contrasts dramatically with weak and fragmented action on food and climate change by national governments – as shown by their inadequate national climate pledges submitted under the Paris Agreement [NDCs]. Despite contributing one third of global greenhouse gas emissions and using 15% of fossil fuels, food systems are routinely overlooked in climate negotiations and climate plans.

IPES-Food recommends:

  • National governments use the example of cities and regional governments as a blueprint for food and climate action – to inspire national food and climate policies.
  • Governments act in coordination with city and regional governments, and provide more funding to them to take action on food and climate change, scaling it out to every city and region.
  • Governments take the opportunity of the Paris Agreement stocktaking moment at COP28 to revise national climate commitments to systematically include food systems and local action.

WHY SHOULD WE PAY ATTENTION NOW?

  • Inspiring success stories show us what can and needs to be done
  • City and regional governments have continued to make progress in spite of mounting challenges
  • Local sustainable food strategies show a blueprint for climate action with accountability, social justice, and participation, at its heart
  • They’re working and they’re popular

FAST FACTS

Food systems are responsible for ⅓ of global greenhouse gas emissions:

  • 13% agriculture and livestock
  • 11% land-use change
  • 10% transport, processing, packaging, retail, and waste

Food system actions could drive major reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions:

  • 18% well-managed changes to production practices
  • 8% transitioning to sustainable diets and halving meat production and consumption
  • 8% halving food loss & waste

Local governments lead climate action

  • 18 national governments and the EU have declared a climate emergency, vs. 2,317 local and regional authorities.

Greenhouse gas emissions reductions committed by local and regional governments go 35% above and beyond those pledged by national governments.

Blue Foods as Medicine (2023 Oct)

Blue Foods as Medicine is a FREE, interactive, four-module online curriculum for health and nutrition professionals and students. The modules are 1: Blue Foods Foundation, 2: Sea Vegetables, 3: Bivalves, Clams, Oysters, Mussels; and 4: Integrating into Your Practice.

The modules are self-paced and evidence-based focused on actionable ways to implement concepts across a variety of settings. There are culturally diverse recipes & resources such as shopping guides, messaging tips, case studies, plus content and programming ideas.

The curriculum widens the food as medicine lens to include sustainability considerations and an array of aquatic foods. The content is open access and shareable, thoughtfully designed to advance your learning journey and drive positive community change.

Funded by Builders Initiative and created by Food for Climate League and Food + Planet.

For more on Blue Foods, see the #ICDAsfsToolkit Hot Topic Resource Cluster: Blue Foods.

Food Systems (One Earth Journal by Cell Press)

Access to food is a universal need and a fundamental right, yet current patterns of production and consumption are failing to address issues of food security while simultaneously deteriorating planetary health. In recognition of the urgent need to transform the way we consume, produce, and think about food, this collection of opinion pieces, authoritative reviews, original research articles, and artwork outlines the complexity of the challenge as well as potential solutions towards sustainable food systems for all. You can use the search feature to filter for Open Access Articles.

One Earth is Cell Press’ flagship sustainability journal. One Earth provides a home for high-quality research and perspectives that significantly advance our ability to better understand and address today’s sustainability challenges. We publish monthly thematic issues that aspire to break down barriers between the natural, social and applied sciences and the humanities, stimulate the cross-pollination of ideas, and encourage transformative research. They particularly encourage submissions with cross-disciplinary interest. Studies can be conducted at all spatial, temporal, and socio-political scales, but all submissions must offer a significant conceptual advance.