19 March 2024

Inclusive partnerships drive food system transformation

Current discussions and perspectives regarding the characteristics and priorities of a sustainable food system are plentiful, global, local, and at a European level. Providing nutritious and safe food while reducing negative environmental impact and ensuring food security has become a crucial challenge for our future. Interactions between all actors are necessary to address these challenges, overcoming the barriers that may arise due to their different perspectives and interests.

The European Partnership for Sustainable Food Systems for People, Planet & Climate, launching this year, will bring together policymakers, businesses, researchers and civil society to coordinate, align and leverage European and national R&I efforts and funding. With the overarching goal to future-proof food systems through an integrated and transdisciplinary approach, the future partnership will have an approximate budget of 175 million euros.

The preparatory actions to establish the future Partnership are guided by DG RTD of the European Commission, the EU-funded FoodPathS project, and the SCAR Strategic Working Group Food Systems.

‘ICLEI and the FoodPathS project aim to ensure all voices from across the food system have the opportunity to shape the framework in which the future partnership will operate, and inform the development of concrete recommendations and pathways for food system transformation,’’ notes Anna Bruen, Senior Expert at ICLEI Europe.

The crucial role of transparency, trust, inclusivity and collaboration in driving effective governance within food system transformation processes was confirmed by stakeholders during an interactive side-event - co-organised by FoodPathS, INRAE, ICLEI Europe and Aarhus University - at the European Commission’s Food 2030 conference on research and innovation for achieving green and resilient food systems (Brussels, December 2023). Building resilient partnerships and governance structures to drive transformative change, means prioritising clear communication channels, minimising bureaucracy, and establishing transparent structures to build trust among diverse stakeholders. It also means establishing inclusive decision-making processes (including funding allocation), balanced representation across sectors (public and private), and engagement with civil society and youth.

The ICLEI European Secretariat and the ICLEI World Secretariat are supporting the development of the future food system partnership by leading work related to inclusive governance. Resulting recommendations about minimising trade-offs and maximising co-benefits for sustainable food systems are presented in collaboration with the FoodPathS project and can be found here.