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)

European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) Food

EIT Food is an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT), the mission is to transform how food is produced, distributed, and consumed and to increase its value to European society. They achieve this by solving the biggest innovation challenges through trusted industry, education and research partners working together with informed and engaged citizens. They believe inclusive systems innovation, which enables all people and places to participate and benefit, is essential to a strong food system that is better for everyone.

With teams on the ground across Europe, they bridge the gap between countries and regions with low innovation capacity and those leading the way. They put consumers at the heart of our work, helping build trust by reconnecting them to the origins of their food, directly involving them in the innovation process, and working with the food sector to increase transparency. Collaboration is central to all their work, which spans the whole food value chain, and is vital to meet the big challenges. Together with the community, they work to build an innovative and resilient food system that in turn creates a healthier society and planet.

Initiatives include:

  • EIT Food Educators that provides teachers with fun, creative and interesting activities to engage young people, mainly schoolchildren. Easily accessible, science-based food education materials enhance students’ learning so they can become better informed, conscious consumers of the future. The vision is a world where all young people have access to food education and are aware of exciting and innovative agrifood careers. The mission is to support educators to teach, engage and inspire young people about the food they eat and consider a career in agrifood.
  • EIT FoodUnfolded – Articles, videos and podcasts will take you on a journey through our food system, covering everything from where our food comes from and how it’s made, to the chemistry behind food and how it affects our bodies, to the impact that food production can have on people and the environment – and innovations and alternative practices that could help reduce that impact. Learning more about our food and its origins can deeply impact our food choices, the system our choices affect and, ultimately, help protect our planet. By bringing facts and stories to life, they hope to help you navigate these everyday decisions through knowledge. Together, we can transform the future of our food.
  • EIT FoodHIVE a network which is working together to make a more sustainable, healthy and trusted food system. Members range from leading businesses, research centres and universities, to food investors, mentors, students, startups and alumni. To bring this diverse community together, they have created FoodHIVE, a digital platform to share, network and collaborate.

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.

Measurement of diets that are healthy, environmentally sustainable, affordable, and equitable: A scoping review of metrics, findings, and research gaps (2023 Apr)

Citation: Webb P, Livingston Staffier K, Lee H, Howell B, Battaglia K, Bell BM, Matteson J, McKeown NM, Cash SB, Zhang FF, Decker Sparks JL and Blackstone NT (2023) Measurement of diets that are healthy, environmentally sustainable, affordable, and equitable: A scoping review of metrics, findings, and research gaps. Front. Nutr. 10:1125955. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2023.1125955

Introduction: Research on the impacts of dietary patterns on human and planetary health is a rapidly growing field. A wide range of metrics, datasets, and analytical techniques has been used to explore the role of dietary choices/constraints in driving greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, environmental degradation, health and disease outcomes, and the affordability of food baskets. Many argue that each domain is important, but few have tackled all simultaneously in analyzing diet-outcome relationships.

Methods: This paper reviews studies published between January 2015 and December 2021 (inclusive) that examined dietary patterns in relation to at least two of the following four thematic pillars: (i) planetary health, including, climate change, environmental quality, and natural resource impacts, (ii) human health and disease, (iii) economic outcomes, including diet cost/affordability, and (iv) social outcomes, e.g., wages, working conditions, and culturally relevant diets. We systematically screened 2,425 publications by title and abstract and included data from 42 eligible publications in this review.

Results: Most dietary patterns used were statistically estimated or simulated rather than observed. A rising number of studies consider the cost/affordability of dietary scenarios in relation to optimized environmental and health outcomes. However, only six publications incorporate social sustainability outcomes, which represents an under-explored dimension of food system concerns.

Discussion: This review suggests a need for (i) transparency and clarity in datasets used and analytical methods; (ii) explicit integration of indicators and metrics linking social and economic issues to the commonly assessed diet-climate-planetary ecology relationships; (iii) inclusion of data and researchers from low- and middle-income countries; (iv) inclusion of processed food products to reflect the reality of consumer choices globally; and (v) attention to the implications of findings for policymakers. Better understanding is urgently needed on dietary impacts on all relevant human and planetary domains simultaneously.

The Supplementary Material for this article can be found online at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2023.1125955/full#supplementary-material

*Correspondence: Patrick Webb, patrick.webb@tufts.edu

Nordic food systems for improved health and sustainability: Baseline assessment to inform transformation (2019)

According to the report “Nordic food systems for improved health and sustainability: Baseline assessment to inform transformation (2019)”, there are sufficient data on Nordic food systems to understand the crucial action areas and to begin taking immediate steps towards food systems transformations. A transformation implies a journey into aspects partly unknown and untested. The report highlights the complementarity of scientific assessment and normative dialogue on this journey.

Dietitians and Nutritionists (D-Ns) are key to this! From the report:

Food system actors would benefit from building a common understanding of desired pathways towards transformation, which should be informed by the best available evidence. This can be achieved through sustained, cross-sectoral (e.g. policy, business, research, civil society, producer, consumer) stakeholder dialogues. It is particularly important to include stakeholders who are often marginalized in these types of collaborative decision-making processes.

There will be challenges to initiating these changes, such as adopting a ‘whole food system’ approach; addressing trade-offs among food system goals; and confronting prevailing forces and lock-ins. Yet these challenges should not be an excuse for inaction.

Key messages

  • Food systems should be a critical lever of change in the Nordics to reach global health and environmental sustainability commitments.
  • The gap between current and desired food systems is substantial enough to require transformative change.
  • An integrated food systems approach aligning agricultural, production, trade, manufacturing, retailing and consumption priorities must be taken.
  • There is enough evidence on necessary food system changes to begin action in setting current food systems on a trajectory towards healthy and sustainable development.
  • Sustained, multi-sectoral forums are needed to steer Nordic food system transformation.

Next steps

  • Begin immediate action to transform Nordic food systems
  • Initiate a multi-stakeholder scenario development process to define a common vision for Nordic food systems
  • Develop strategies to handle the trade-offs of change
  • Evaluate Nordic food systems in the global context

Acknowledgement: This page is an extracted from the introduction to the report.

Sustainable healthy diets – Guiding principles (2019)

Acknowledging the existence of diverging views on the concepts of sustainable diets and healthy diets, countries have requested guidance from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) on what constitutes sustainable healthy diets. The two organisations jointly held an international expert consultation on Sustainable and Healthy Diets from 1 to 3 July 2019 at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy, to address these issues.

The Consultation agreed on guiding principles for what constitutes “Sustainable Healthy Diets”. This comes at a time when the debate around the sustainability of diets is high on the agenda of governments, international organisations, civil society organisations, the private sector and academia.

These guiding principles take a holistic approach to diets; they consider international nutrition recommendations; the environmental cost of food production and consumption; and the adaptability to local social, cultural and economic contexts. At the Consultation the experts agreed on the term “Sustainable Healthy Diets” which encompasses the two dimensions – sustainability and healthiness of diets. Countries should decide on the trade-offs according to their situations and goals.

These guiding principles emphasize the role of food consumption and diets in contributing to the achievement of the SDGs at country level, especially Goals 1 (No Poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger), 3 (Good Health and Well-Being), 4 (Quality Education), 5 (Gender Equality) and 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and 13 (Climate Action).

This publication on Sustainable Healthy Diets – Guiding principles (2019) aims to support the efforts of countries as they work to transform food systems to deliver on sustainable healthy diets.

Impacto ecológico de la alimentación en España (2022)

Presentamos la nueva edición (31) de Cuadernos de las Cooperativas de Consumidores con un monográfico sobre el «Impacto ecológico de la alimentación en España». Nuestros hábitos de alimentación y el sistema actual de producción y consumo de alimentos tienen un indudable impacto en la salud del planeta, de manera que las decisiones de compra y consumo deberían ser tomadas con la mayor información posible.

Como sociedad, es necesario avanzar hacia modelos más sostenibles y todos los eslabones de la cadena alimentaria deben contribuir a mitigar el impacto ambiental de nuestras prácticas y actividades. Analizado en términos de oportunidad, el camino hacia la sostenibilidad se presenta como un buen momento para transformar nuestro sistema alimentario.

En este trabajo se aborda, desde el punto de vista del sector de la alimentación, cómo nuestros comportamientos y decisiones de consumo generan considerables impactos ambientales y qué se necesita para minimizar los efectos de nuestros hábitos cotidianos con respecto a los alimentos. Esta publicación forma parte del Proyecto “Impacto ecológico de la alimentación”, subvencionado por Ministerio de Consumo, y cuenta con el apoyo y colaboración del Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación.

Hemos conseguido reunir las reflexiones de responsables en la materia y reconocidos especialistas, incluyendo los aspectos normativos y nutricionales, dando voz al sector de la producción y la distribución comercial. Cada artículo se aproxima al problema con un punto de vista diferente, configurando un completo trabajo de lectura recomendada.

Las personas consumidoras quieren reducir su huella ecológica y ya apuestan por las empresas que se comprometen y actúan para reducir tanto sus emisiones como los impactos ambientales. Pero cada día es más patente la gran distancia que existe entre la intención y la acción. A esto se añade el aumento del coste de la vida, que impide tomar decisiones de forma responsable con el planeta. En esta situación, el precio se ha convertido en una barrera para el comportamiento sostenible, por lo que debemos tener en consideración a aquellos colectivos de personas vulnerables para que no se queden fuera en estos momentos y avancen igualmente en el camino hacia la reducción del impacto ambiental de los hábitos de compra y consumo de alimentos. 

En la apuesta por la sostenibilidad, compartida de forma unánime por todos los sectores, hay muchas lagunas y la persona consumidora, como último eslabón de la cadena, reclama más información y un compromiso real y contrastable del sector de la alimentación con el medio ambiente, para que se ofrezcan productos que nos permita seguir unos patrones de alimentación más saludables, a la vez que sostenibles. 

Con este Monográfico también queremos hacer, en nombre de las cooperativas de consumo un llamamiento al compromiso sincero con la sostenibilidad, impulsando innovaciones y nuevas oportunidades empresariales, que permitan avanzar hacia un sistema alimentario más sostenible y respetuoso con el planeta y las personas.

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. 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!

Green Healthcare: Healthy and Sustainable Food (website)  

For over 20 years the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care has been helping those working in health care facilities, non-governmental and governmental organisations, individuals, students and businesses to share green health care best practices and to become better equipped to deal with the growing demands placed upon them to be environmentally responsible health service workers and individuals. There are at least 3 sections on Nutrition specifically and 40+ on sustainable food systemTheir page on Food Waste has reports, flyers, tools, and strategies for reducing waste. This website contains transparent and dynamic information that is freely available regarding topics around environmental and social sustainability. A membership is available, but not required for access to the resources found on this website.