Official Dialogue Feedback to the United Nations 2021 Food Systems Summit
Type of Dialogue
Language of Dialogue Event
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Summary UN Food Summit Science Days side event – SOLAW21: Sustainable, scalable and dynamic solutions in land and water management towards food system transformation
FAO, with the support of Griffith University, Australia, organized a UN Food Summit Science Days side event to discuss the upcoming FAO flagship report on the State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture (SOLAW21).
In this side event contributing to the UN-Food system Summit, the focus was on the DPSIR (driver, pressure, state, impact, and responses) assessment framework that was used for SOLAW 2021, and on how SOLAW 2021 data and information can bring new knowledge and focus on priority response actions, and whether they need to be scaled up for further investments.
Partners from the Philippines, including high-level representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Academia, Funding agency, and FAO Regional Officers, contributed to the lively discussion on the relevance of SOLAW21 and the DPSIR Regional framework in the reflection of regional and country challenges in land degradation and water scarcity, the added value of SOLAW21 in policy-making, the crucial role of data and information on land, water and soil as well as partnerships to support Sustainable Food Systems. The side event was attended by more than 100 people from different parts of world. This was the first in a series of events to present key components of SOLAW until the launch in December 2021.
Key Outcome and Discussion Points
SOLAW allows the dynamic assessment of challenges and solutions. SOLAW as a systematic, harmonized, authoritative and up-to-date reference informs policy making with the actual state of land and water resources, guides how they are being impacted by different driving forces such as population growth and mobility, economic development, social change, technology, and climate change. SOLAW provides a glimpse into the possible pathways into the future of food security, natural resource availability and degradation, and tells us what response options we have to deal with these, what actions decision makers can take in sustainably managing land, water and soil in an integrated manner; in making agriculture and food systems sustainable; and in being good stewards of our planet. It has something for everyone: governments, businesses, investors, civil society, communities, farmers, consumers, citizens.
The DPSIR (Driver -Pressure-State-Impact-Response) framework used in SOLAW21 allows us to understand the challenges unique for each region and prioritize solutions at global, regional, country levels. With the inputs of FAO Regional and Country offices, several results of Regional DPSIR survey was showcased during the side event. It includes ranking of key drives, pressure, state, impacts as well as ranking of different responses connected to key elements of state of land, water and soil.
The discussion highlighted the need for updated, accurate, standardized data and information to support sustainable management and ensure food security and resilient livelihoods. SOLAW allows dynamic assessment of challenges and solutions. The DPSIR framework allows us to understand the challenges unique for each region and prioritize solutions at global, regional, country levels. Partnerships are key to join forces and enhance synergies across sectors and stakeholders and for setting investment priorities. Effective and integrated land-use planning supported by suitability analysis is needed at various levels to implement innovative solutions with the participation of relevant stakeholders and to consider climate change and variability. Examples highlighted the need for capacity enhancement and scaling out of sustainable land and water management options to support sustainable food systems. The discussion highlighted various opportunities to reverse the current trends and enhance sustainable management; this requires the integration of technical solutions with enabling environment and governance to support sustainability and transformation of our food systems.
Discussions in the side event suggested that immediate and complementing next steps following SOLAW 21 launch could be to anchor it to a near-real-time system of SOLAW (tentatively called SOLAW-Live), of dynamic compilation and incorporation of updates to the state of the resources, policy responses, implications of technological change and innovation, and bring in the regional and local perspectives in coherence with the global.
Principles of Engagement
How did you organize the Dialogue so that the Principles were incorporated, reinforced and enhanced?
The Dialogue was organised as interactive session with few keynote presentations and panel session, allowing for brainstorming discussion on land, water, soil conditions and innovative solutions for food systems transformation. FAO with the support of Griffith University, Australia organised a UN Food Summit Science Days side event to discuss the upcoming FAO flagship report on the State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture (SOLAW21). Over 300 individuals and partners contributed to the preparation and realization of SOLAW21.
In this side event contributing to the UN-Food System Summit, the focus was on the DPSIR (driver, pressure, state, impact and responses) assessment framework that was used for SOLAW 2021, and on how SOLAW 2021 data and information can bring new knowledge and focus on priority response actions, and whether they need to be scaled up for further investments.
Partners from the Philippines including high level representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Academia, resource partners and agencies, and FAO Regional Officers contributed to the a lively discussion inputs on the relevance of SOLAW21 and its DPSIR Global and Regional framework in the reflection of regional and country challenges in land degradation and water scarcity, added value of SOLAW21 in policy making, the crucial role of data, information on land, water and soil to as well as partnership to support Sustainable Food Systems.
Almost 150 participants from 76 countries attended the event. The speakers and the panels were gender balanced.
The dialogue was promoted in social media and the recording was made online to promote public viewing and discussion.
How did your Dialogue reflect specific aspects of the principles?
The Dialogue reflects several aspects of the principles, including the act of urgency. The discussion highlights that the need for sustainable and integrated management of land, soil and water has become a crucial determining factor for global food security through the maintenance and restoration of the ecosystem today more than ever before and is a necessary response to climate change impacts.
The Dialogue presented how to prioritize responses to accelerate the implementation of SDGs that address a sustainable trade-off between agricultural production and other ecosystem services in a complex socio-ecological system. Given that less than a decade is left for the achievement of major SDG targets, the dialogue highlights the need for a conceptual framework that strongly connects problem assessment with response assessment in a living manner and helps to prioritize responses towards a sustainable food system.
The Dialogue addresses complexity to identify suitable policy strategies to respond to such dynamic interacting systems. Different assessments of natural resource and environmental conditions and responses have generated a wealth of information along with motivation and public support for policy formulation and transformative change. Moreover, they have had a wide scope, including assessments of the current and future conditions of the land, water, and soil (IPCC, IPBES, LADA, UN-Water Integrated Monitoring Initiative, JMP, UNESCO-WWAP, and LASOD). However, efforts to understand and assess the land, water, and soil resources and their interacting complexities on food production have been fragmentary at best. These have been often focused on particular “sectors” or resources, while, the challenges are indeed cross-cutting and interrelated in the domain and are multi-sectoral. They include the domains of food, land management, water security, economic development, carbon mitigation, climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction. This fragmentation has arisen in part from the lack of a coherent framing, both in terms of understanding and in terms of monitoring and interpreting the observable phenomena and trends in integrated land, water and soil conditions.
An appropriate system thinking framework as outlined in SOLAW is needed to assess information relevant to sustainable and resilient rural livelihoods and emphasize social and economic dimensions of sustainable development at a relatively smaller scale while assessing environmental impacts of use and management of critical resources like land, water, and soil at global, regional and local scales. Such a framework would also propose effective, efficient and integrated response options (appropriate at different scales).
The dialogue also included discussions on partnership building and underlined the need of local and global partners working together to optimise approaches and scale them for impact. Such a partnership approach offers the opportunity to build trust and intentionally create a vision of solutions and listen to the perspective of different stakeholders.
Do you have advice for other Dialogue Convenors about appreciating the Principles of Engagement?
The principles of Engagement have helped to structure and organise this Dialogue. It has helped to be more focussed on solutions to the challenges in our food system, discuss system thinking and approaches and aligned the discussions to the main goal of UNFSS.
Our advice to other dialogue convenors will be to structure and organise the Dialogue according to the principles of engagement, and it will help to derive clear message and outputs.
Please consider commenting on how the event was curated as well as the reaction of participants to this curation. It may also be appropriate to comment on the facilitation in the Discussion Groups: were points of divergence and convergence both able to surface?
Were all voices heard?
The selection of the presenters and panel members and the invites took into consideration representing wide variety of stakeholders and actors from around the world. Special attention was given to reaction of participants during the dialogue. Participants were asked to have their questions on the chat window. Due to limited time all questions could not be answered, however, chat correspondence was recorded and answers to the questions were provided to the participants later through emails.
- Dialogue Focus & Outcomes
- A) Major focus
Please detail the focus of your Dialogue. For example, it could be (i) a comprehensive exploration of food systems, (ii) an exploration of one of the five Action Tracks or levers of change of the Summit, (iii) examination of links between one or more of the Action
Tracks and levers of change, (iv) or another specific theme.
Relevant Action Tracks-
Action track #3 boost nature- positive Production
Action track #5 build resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stress
Governance, Policy, Data & Evidence, Environment and Climate
The Dialogue’s key focus was to identify global, regional and local approaches and integrated and multi-sectoral solutions in food system thinking that address complex and standalone problems with a well-balanced and interlinked ecosystem-livelihoods focus. The Dialogue explored the linkages between land, soil and water, and how targeted solutions elucidate the trade-off dilemma that policymakers face in addressing increasing food demand and the needs of their various constituents of ecosystem goods services.
The focussed discussions were on the current and future functionalities of the FAO flagship report on the State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture (SOLAW21), for instance, awareness of the status of land and water resources, highlight the risks to them, list the identified hotspots and challenges, and inform on related opportunities through a holistic and integrated approach, which is crucial to achieve food security.
Another key focus was methodological framework used for SOLAW21. This involved a global and regional DPSIR to describe the interlinkages and interdependencies between environment, socio economics, and sustainable agricultural production system and capture the complicated relationship and the ability to help in the framing of policy response that can mitigate and adapt to direct and indirect impacts.
Discussion were also on the relevance of SOLAW and its DPSIR Regional framework to address regional and country challenges related to land degradation and water scarcity, added value of SOLAW21 in policy making, the crucial role of data, information on land, water and soil to as well as partnership to support Sustainable Food Systems.
The crucial questions that was raised and discussed during the panel discussions include
- What is the added value of the SOLAW? How can we use state-of-the-art data inflows, harmonize data across different disciplines and challenge areas; and develop reliable links to real-time data flows to produce authoritative, standardized, transparent and modernized products?
- What is the crucial role of data, information on land, water and soil to support Sustainable Food Systems
- How do we create and support foundations of partnership to create impacts at scale, for instance in SOLAW
- How can we prioritize actions at different levels in Africa to create/drive appropriate changes to current non-sustainable practices?
- How can we use updated information on the state of land, water and soil, for instance, suitability, slope, elevation and soils maps to improve agricultural production at the farm level?
- How can we sustainably manage ecosystem inclusive of land, water, and soil to ensure food security in Asia Pacific?
- B) Main Findings
Please share your appreciation of the main findings (or conclusions) that emerged from your Dialogue. For example, your key findings might detail a) the need to establish new connections between certain stakeholders, b) an agreement on actions that stakeholders will take together (expressed as intentions or commitments), c) a decision to explore specific aspects of food systems
in greater depth
- SOLAW allows dynamic assessment of challenges and solutions. SOLAW as a systematic, harmonized, authoritative and up-to-date reference informs policy making with the state of land and water resources, guides how they are being impacted by different driving forces such as population growth and mobility, economic development, social change, technology, and climate change. SOLAW provides a glimpse into the possible pathways into the future of food security and resilient livelihoods, resource availability and resource degradation, and tells us what response options we have to deal with these, what actions decision makers can take in managing land, water and soil; in making agriculture and food systems sustainable; and in being good stewards of our planet. It has something for everyone: governments, businesses, investors, civil society, communities, farmers, consumers, citizens. This the first event in a series of events to present key components of SOLAW until the launch in December 2021.
- The DPSIR (Driver -Pressure-State-Impact-Response) framework used in SOLAW21 allows us to understand the challenges unique for each region and to prioritize solutions at global, regional, country levels. The regional DPSIR framework is based on an expert opinion survey, and its design is based on an extensive literature survey on responses.
Main findings of the Regional DPSIR
- Loss of agricultural productivity and efficiency, land degradation and reduced water availability and water quality are the major impacts caused by the unsustainable agricultural practices, increasing pressure of over-extraction of groundwater and surface water.
- Population is the one key driver influencing the sustainable land, water and soil system in the Asia Pacific, Central Asia, Near East and North Africa, while urbanisation is the key driving factor in Africa.
- Other important drivers affecting all regions are the uneven rainfall, recurrent flood and drought events which further put the agricultural system under pressure.
- The major pressure factors are unsustainable agricultural practices and continuous cultivation in Africa and the Asia Pacific.
- Over extraction of water is one of the major pressure factors in the Near East and North Africa, while in Latin America and in the Caribbean Islands
- Conservation practices and agriculture, Community Based natural resource management, Restoration and rehabilitation of degraded lands, Sustainable forest management (both planted and natural) are crucial responses to land degradation and loss of vegetation cover.
- Integrated groundwater and surface water management, modernisation of irrigation systems are a few of the top-rated responses to address water scarcity and groundwater depletion.
- To address agricultural productivity loss, we need multiple solutions ranging from diversification of farm income, government assistance in agricultural inputs and services to increased efficiency of nutrient cycling and applied inputs to improve soil fertility and yield (e.g., precision agriculture, adequate and balanced use of fertilizers).
- Emphasis on integrated approaches, for instance, to improve productivity in rainfed systems for adaptation to climate change and in crop-livestock management as well as integrated groundwater and surface water management.
- A comprehensive framework of response assessment (CFRA) with counterfactual analysis was presented to compare technical, institutional and policy responses that will help to inform the process of identifying the priority and sequence of responses.
- Climate change is affecting the Philippines more severely than some other locations, as it lies in the path of typhoons developing in the Pacific Ocean. There is a need for improved rice varieties which are resilient to climate change related events such as flooding, drought and saline intrusion, are needed.
- Research and development are important to enhance knowledge of technical and social-economic constraints for extending sustainable land management.
- Capacity building of resource users, managers and other development actors is important for scaling up and scaling out of innovations.
- There are diverse and often competing users of land and water. To strengthen land and water resource management institutions, it is essential to have integration of efforts across different levels from national to the community.
- C) Discussion Topic Outcomes
Please share the outcomes that relate to each Discussion Topic. The outcomes detailed here will include participants’ views on actions that are urgently needed, who should take these actions, ways in which progress could be assessed, and challenges that might be anticipated as actions are implemented. You are welcome to feedback about a maximum of 10 Discussion Topics.
- SOLAW could provide substantial value by identifying characteristics of risk areas as well as possible responses, and also prioritising those responses. It could also provide critical information on interlinkages between activities and sectors to support sustainable management. One of the great merits and benefit of SOLAW21 is that it captures very well the specificity of regional characteristics in terms of key challenges in soils, land and water matters and identifies potential responses to drive appropriate positive changes in land, soil and water management. Information from SOLAW can help to increase resource use and productivity, align with the SDGs, and coordinate with government policy at multiple levels, including local, regional, and international scales. These policy options can then be combined with innovative funding strategies to overcome constraints.
- Immediate and complementing next step is to anchor SOLAW to a near-real-time system (tentatively called SOLAW-Live), of dynamic compilation and incorporation of updates to the state of the resources, policy responses, implications of technological change and innovation, and bring in the regional and local in coherence with the global. SOLAW-Live could provide added depth to the regional, sub-regional and country-level assessments by linking to SOLAW’s global suite of response options. In other words, it will have multi-layered functionality with the ability to overlay contributing factors to sustainability and resilience water, land and food factors. This would be extremely powerful to be able to identify the real hotspots where multiple factors co-exist to cause food insecurity, and at the same time as this will be live and updated frequently, one could monitor for improvements and impacts using these set of measurable factors – to demonstrate in a live capacity where real multi-factorial change for the better or worse is occurring.
- Efforts at all levels are needed to make assessments more meaningful and impactful and solution oriented and for that we need connections between scales-on farm problem assessment as well as solutions assessment on farm. We need a dynamic framework that connects the two and delivers usable products like investment mapping, prioritise investment making in near real time conditions with the support of Data foundation, co design, capacity development and contributing to SDG implementation.
- Advisory services need knowledge informed by science to pass on to farmers. If SOLAW could provide these data in an easy to understand format it would be ideal and could be significant for setting investment priorities.
- Data and information on land, water and soil that is not easily accessible, in a format that is easy to process/understand, delivered in a timely manner is crucial to support sustainable food systems. If SOLAW21 can continuously provide these very crucial data in the form of a database system, developing nations like the Philippines will greatly benefit in transforming our food system.
- Partnership is key to join forces and enhance synergies across sectors and stakeholders and for setting investment priorities.
- Effective and integrated land use planning supported by suitability analysis are needed at various levels to implement innovative solution with participation of relevant stakeholders. Examples highlighted the need for capacity enhancement and scaling out of sustainable land and water management options to support food systems. The discussion highlighted various opportunities to reverse the current trend and enhance sustainable management, this requires the integration of technical solutions with enabling environment and governance to support sustainability and transformation of our food systems.
- D) Areas of divergence
Please share the areas of divergence that emerged during your Dialogue. An area of divergence is an issue where participants held diverse views, different opinions, and/or opposing positions. For example, this might be related to a) strengths and vulnerabilities within food systems, b) areas that need further exploration, c) practices that are needed for food system sustainability, d)
stakeholders whose interests should be prioritized.
Note: Please do not attribute any views to named individuals
- On the use of Theory of Change instead of DPSIR Framework
DPSIR was originally developed by EEA more than 10 years ago, and a participant raised why not the Theory of Change could be used instead of DPSIR Framework. However, it was clarified by the speakers and panelists that the DPSIR (drivers, pressures, state, impact, and response model of intervention) is a causal framework for describing the interactions between society and the environment with an ecological and systems perspective. It has been used widely for environmental assessment. But the theory of change, a very useful tool, is used to evaluate implementation of program and project success and to determine its pathway and it does not necessarily lead to the analysis of the “state” of land and water. The theory of change is used widely in the development sector and describes if a particular project has worked or how it is expected to work. DPSIR has been used in SOLAW21 following successful application in similar assessments like LADA and GEO.
- On the land use rights in encouraging people for developing a feeling of ownership to their land and invest in it.
One of the participants commented that investments, nowadays, do not occur in the form of better farming but instead they either move to urban areas while leasing the land to others who will be just farm workers on the owner’s behalf and will not be in a position to care and invest in the land or what is worse open it to settlement developers through rental or sale of land esp. in touristic areas.
It was clarified by the panelist that it is true that securing land tenure and formal recognition of land rights increase incentives to invest and boost productivity in land, while protecting the environment. This happens to the majority of landholders, especially smallholder farmers who has agriculture as the main source of income and main source of living. It is true that few landholders may decide to lease their land and go in cities to look for other source of income.
To be able to stabilize farmers in rural areas, ensuring formal land rights is paramount, but there is also other important enabling environment that policy makers should put in place like, putting in place rural or agricultural banks that facilitate farmers to get affordable financial support, enact laws that facilitate farmers to get inputs at lower prices, facilitating them in alleviating taxation to agricultural products, tax free imports of agricultural inputs and material, granting subsidies for instance. An example from Rwanda was illustrated these trends. Farmers, youth in rural areas of Rwanda have incentives that allow them to invest in agriculture by facilitating access to productive services, such as credit, trainings and markets. National Institutions were created to support them.