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Driving Sustainable Change: Uniting Public and Private Sectors in Food Systems Transformation

In June 2023, the Business Fights Poverty (BFP) Global Summit brought together passionate practitioners from the private and public sectors to explore the vital role of businesses in sustainable development.

Amidst the summit, a workshop co-hosted by Nutrition Connect, an initiative of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), together with the Innovative Food System Solutions (IFSS) portal initiative, and Glocolearning delved into the intricacies of systems change, with a focus on harnessing cross-sector collaborations to drive transformative approaches while drawing lessons from the realm of food systems.

At the heart of the workshop was the presentation of a powerful tool: backcasting. This approach involves envisioning a desirable future and working backward to identify the necessary steps for its realisation. During the workshop, participants learned about  a set of useful “accelerators” – enabling elements adapted by Herrero et al., 2020  that are important to help catalyse innovative actions for systems transformation.

Each accelerator - Building Trust, Enabling Social License, Transforming Mindsets, Changing Policies & Regulations, Ensure Stable Finance, Designing Market Incentives, Safeguarding Against Undesirable Effects, Women & Youth Empowerment, and Data & Evidence- was discussed and vibrant discussions followed, facilitated by the BFP and Glocolearning expert teams. Attendees openly shared their experiences, both positive and negative, pertaining to each accelerator. 

The practicality of using the accelerators as a lens through which to help identify opportunities and challenges resonated strongly with the participants. The discussions underscored the significance of collaboration, trust, transparency, inclusivity, and evidence-based decision-making in driving systems change within the different sectors. It was inspiring to see that participants expressed a willingness to challenge this dynamic within their companies, organisations and institutions, and strive for actions that align more closely with their personal values and genuine commitment to sustainability. 

Armed with new insights and a shared determination, workshop attendees left inspired to embark on their respective journeys toward sustainable transformations. The workshop highlighted the power of public and private sector partnerships, emphasising the need to foster collaboration, trust, and inclusivity for transformative change in our food systems. Together, we can turn our visions into reality, paving the way for a sustainable and equitable world where our food systems thrive, supporting both people and the planet.

Adapted from Herrero et al. NATURE FOOD, VOL 1, May 2020; 266–272 https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-020-0074-1

References: Herrero, M., Thornton, P.K., Mason-D’Croz, D. et al. Innovation can accelerate the transition towards a sustainable food system. Nat Food 1, 266–272 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-020-0074-1