Taking a Food Systems Approach to Policymaking: A Resource for Policymakers

To articulate what it means to take a food systems approach and support policymakers around the world to do so, R4D and City, University of London created a package of resources — consisting of an evidence review and four technical briefs— designed to address these questions. These resources define a food systems approach, explore potential entry points in different sectors, present ways to identify and engage relevant stakeholders, and discuss the cost and financing considerations. Building on existing knowledge, frameworks, and thinking, they provide pragmatic and practical ideas for how to operationalize a food systems approach holistically and effectively to achieve a greater impact on food system outcomes. They provide country examples that illustrate real-world lessons and give links to existing tools and resources that policymakers can use to get started or bolster ongoing efforts.

These resources have a particular focus on how a food systems approach can advance healthy diets and nutrition—but they can be applied to any food systems challenge. Indeed, because a food systems approach aims to maximize benefits and minimize risks for objectives across the food system, it fundamentally incorporates consideration of multiple outcomes.

There are 6 documents: 1 to provide an overview, 1 on evidence, then 4 technical briefs.

The four technical briefs aim to support policymakers on how to make policy decisions to shift the food system toward better outcomes. They convey practical information—not as prescriptions, but as ideas and options that can be adapted to the local challenges and opportunities faced by different countries. The technical briefs are based on existing evidence, case studies, and tools, and they offer resources and considerations for policymakers. They can be read sequentially as a set or as standalone briefs. Each begins with a summary of key points, and each recommends other resources that offer more in-depth information.

  1. Brief I. Taking a Food Systems Approach to Policymaking: What, How, and Why – Articulates what a food systems approach is and why it is valuable for policymakers
  2. Brief II. Taking a Food Systems Approach to Policymaking: Managing Stakeholders and Identifying Policy Entry Points – Explains how to take a more collective approach to policymaking by identifying the relevant stakeholders, using multistakeholder mechanisms to bring these stakeholders together, and identifying policy entry points for action
  3. Brief III. Taking a Food Systems Approach to Policymaking: Developing a Shared Agenda – Shares tools and methods to guide policy decision-making, help assess policy coherence, and mitigate and manage conflicts
  4. Brief IV. Taking a Food Systems Approach to Policymaking: Costing and Financing – Discusses some of the cost and financing implications of a food systems approach

Acknowledgments: This resource package was developed by the Centre for Food Policy at City, University of London and Results for Development (R4D), with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). The team from City, University of London comprised Corinna Hawkes and Ursula Trübswasser. The resource package was developed through consultations with global and country actors, and the authors are grateful to members of the Advisory Group for providing advice and feedback throughout the process and reviewing drafts.

The advisory group is listed in the overview document and several are in nations where ICDA member are – also look at the different sectors they come from, reaching our sector to sector can be a great link, too. Any of them could be your great opportunity to Collaborate. Reach out to them – through the authors if need be – or reach out to the ICDA SFS Coordinator and we’ll help you navigate the network. We’ve started you off with links to their organizations.

Together we can achieve Sustainable Food Systems!

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