The role of Dialogues in the UN Food Systems Summit

In 2019, the UN Secretary-General called for a Food Systems Summit and engagement process to unleash the power of food and deliver progress on all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Food brings us together as families, communities and nations. It underpins our culture, our economy, and our relationship with the natural world. The world’s food systems touch every aspect of human existence – making them not just essential but also valuable and important instruments of change.

We invite all people to participate in or convene Food Systems Summit Dialogues so that we can have a diverse range of stakeholders – from youth activists to indigenous leaders, smallholder farmers to scientists and CEOs – coming together to identify the most powerful ways to make food systems stronger and more equitable; ultimately driving progress in all of the SDGs.

After all, each of us plays a role in our food systems, and we all have a responsibility to ensure that they function well. By coming together to tackle this vital issue, we can all contribute to a world in which no one is hungry, no one is poor, and no one is left behind. As every one of us continues to adjust to the impacts of COVID-19, the Summit is an opportunity to focus on the fragilities in food systems that are being exposed by the crisis – and to regenerate these systems in ways that respond better to people’s needs.

The Dialogues are an exceptional opportunity for all with an interest to contribute to shaping the pathways that will lead to collectively determine sustainable food systems everywhere and to indicate how they will contribute to making this vision a reality for all.

Outcomes of Food Systems Summit Dialogues will be of use in developing pathways to sustainable food systems within the locality in which they take place. They will also be a valuable contribution to the different work streams preparing for the Summit: the Scientific Group, Champions, other Dialogues and the Five Action Tracks which have been established as a space to share and learn, with a view to foster new actions and partnerships and amplify existing initiatives.

For more information about the Action Tracks, visit UN Food Systems Summit – Action Tracks.

Through Food Systems Summit Dialogues we can energize and accelerate our collective journey to eliminate hunger, create more inclusive and healthier food systems and safeguard the health of our planet. Success of the Summit will hinge on robust, inclusive, and above all, shared preparation – drawing on the best evidence, ideas, and commitments from around the world.

The involvement of different stakeholder groups in the Food Systems Summit is critical. Multi-stakeholder Dialogues are increasingly recognized as a valuable approach for engaging multiple actors to work together, using their combined knowledge, to resolve systems challenges. That is why the programme of Food Systems Summit Dialogues is a core component of the preparations for the Summit.They encourage a collaborative approach at a time when there are many incentives for fragmentation. The Dialogues enable different stakeholders to come together to consider and discuss their roles in food systems with others.

Through a progression of Dialogues, we can explore new ways to work together to create food systems that are both sustainable and equitable, aligned with the SDGs, and suited to the needs of our future world and her people.

Click here to learn more about Why Food Systems Matter

An “Appetizer for Food Systems Dialogues”

On Friday 16 October 2020, on the occasion of World Food Day, a 24-hour global relay conversation was held to launch the UN Food Systems Summit engagement process for the coming year. As part of BLOCK 6, hosted Sunnylands Trust, the session “Appetizer for Food Systems Summit Dialogue” was moderated by David Nabarro, Food Systems Summit Dialogues Senior Advisor who was joined by:

  • Benson Mwendia Kamau (CEO of Climate Smart Agriculture Centres in Kenya)
  • Hanneke Faber (President of Food & Refreshment at Unilever)
  • Devita Davison (Executive of FoodLab Detroit)
  • Sandrine Gouvea (Latin America Focal Point for the UN Major Group on Children and Youth in support of the Food Systems Summit)
  • Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau (Canada’s Minister of Agriculture).

The session showed the value of multi-stakeholder dialogues as a means for embracing multiple perspectives and exploring common pathways to sustainable food systems.

Types of Dialogue

To engage as many stakeholders as possible, three types of Food Systems Summit Dialogues can be convened:

Member State Dialogues

Each Member State is invited to initiate a programme of progressive national Food Systems Summit Dialogues between November 2020 and May 2021. The national Dialogues are expected to result in the shaping of national pathways to sustainable food systems. They will determine the intentions for supporting these pathways from a broad range of stakeholders, providing opportunities for these stakeholders to engage in preparations for the Summit through structured interactions.

Independent Dialogues

These are locally driven and adaptable to various contexts, convened by individuals or organizations independently of national authorities but with the opportunity to formally connect into the Summit process through an official feedback mechanism. They will offer opportunities for all citizens to engage directly in proposing pathways towards sustainable food systems, exploring new ways of working together and encouraging collaborative action.

Global Summit Dialogues

Set to take place alongside key global conventions on climate, biodiversity, environment, nutrition, oceans, economies, and related issues within the 2030 Agenda that have connections to food systems. The Global Summit Dialogues are co-convened by the FSS Special Envoy with their main purpose being to bring political attention to food systems in high-level thematic and sectoral meetings and processes.