Refresh the food system - Inspiration to make transformation happen

Yes, we could finally meet live again! Over one hundred food professionals gathered at Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam on 15 October 2021 to celebrate World Food Day 2021. Many more joined online from across the globe. The World Food Day event 2021 was hosted by Netherlands Food Partnership on behalf of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. The programme, designed in close collaboration with Dr. Monk, inspired participants to come up with concrete actions that contribute to real transformative changes, as well as debate challenges for which urgent action is needed. Ultimately, solutions were sought for real dilemma’s of real people to set change in motion. We call for action to Refresh the Food System!

Three specific food challenges were on the table at World Food Day: Enabling healthy and sustainable food choices, Digitalisation and Living income.

''At the start of this Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs, I call for renewed ambition, mobilization, leadership and collective action, not just to beat COVID-19 but to recover better, together - winning the race against climate change, decisively tackling poverty and inequality, truly empowering all women and girls and creating more inclusive and equitable societies everywhere.''


– mr. António Guterres Secretary-General of the United Nations - The Sustainable Development Goals report 2020, p.2"

Three weeks after the Food Systems Summit, World Food Day provided an excellent opportunity to reflect on the outcomes of the FSS and the pathways for actions to contribute to solutions for food system challenges. Member states in general, and the Netherlands and food professionals in particular need to define their actions towards 2030, only 'nine harvests away' to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

At the Food Systems Summit, the international community renewed their commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 and the end of world hunger.

During the opening plenary, Myrtille Danse, Executive Director of the Netherlands Food Partnership and, and Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), both expressed the need for consensus about the needed changes that lead to transformation, for looking at different perspectives and to making real commitments to facilitate improvements globally.

“I think that there's a lot of interesting information available related to making our food systems more sustainable, but also in our connections to the international markets and to the global south and how we can contribute there to make things more resilient, more environmentally friendly, Myrtille says.

“We can help replicate the innovative ideas coming from the global south”

We need to scale up these ideas and to help share knowledge to strengthen food systems.” 

In conclusion, Lawrence points at three key steps for moving forward, the first being to support the UN member states’ national pathways to food system transformation. “That’s a key government role that the rest of us can also support,” he says. “Second, there is a key business role around knowing what is the true value of food. What is the cost of growing food in this way? That’s very powerful. The Dutch are leading in this space. And finally, we need something that brings together researchers from all over the world, because science looks different depending on where you are in the world. It’s not always objective.”

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