AGA [ID: 544]

2020 Annual General Assembly

Strengthening coordination towards SDG2: Pathways for Food Systems Transformation


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The 2020 Annual General Assembly (AGA) took place from 2 to 5 November 2020. The selected theme, “Pathways for Food Systems Transformation” was used to open a discussion on what processes are needed at local, national, regional and global levels to underpin food systems transformation, and the role that donors can play in catalyzing and supporting such processes.

The outcomes from the AGA sessions are helping to develop a GDPRD preparatory contribution for the Food Systems Summit, which will assess the ways donors currently support and invest in food systems and identify options for strengthening or changing these in the context of the wider agenda for food systems transformation.

High-level event

Click to watch livestream recording of the high-level event


Jim Woodhill, AgriFoodNexus Consulting / Honorary Research Associate, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

Opening remarks:

  • Paul van de Logt, Head, Food and Nutrition Security, The Netherlands, and Global Donor Platform
    for Rural Development, Co-chair
  • Agnes Kalibata, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on the Food Systems Summit
  • Michelle Nunn, President and CEO, CARE U.S.A.
  • Marie Haga, Associate Vice-President, External Relations and Governance Department,
    International Fund for Agricultural Development


  • Hanneke Faber, President, Foods & Refreshment, Unilever 
  • Hamady Diop, Head of Natural Resources Governance, Food Security and Nutrition, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)
  • Carla Montesi, Director, Planet and Prosperity (DEVCO.C), Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission (EC)
  • Johan Swinnen, Director-General, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
  • Joan Valadou, Head of the Human Development Department, Ministry for Europe and
    Foreign Affairs, France
  • Martien van Nieuwkoop, Global Director, Agriculture and Food Global Practice, The World Bank

Transforming food systems: implications for coordination and financing

The objective of the high-level event was to explore the processes, coordination and financing needed from local to global levels to bring about a sustainable, equitable and resilient transformation of food systems, and to assess the future roles of donors.

The high-level event focused on critical questions related to the supporting, coordination and financing roles of the donor community, for instance:

  • What processes at local, national, regional and global levels are needed to bring about transformation, and what are the implications for donors?
  • Is there something fundamentally different that needs to happen to achieve a food system transformation? (What is working well, what is not and what are the gaps?)
  • Is funding within the global food system architecture directed in the right way across areas such as:
    • national and regional research
    • national dialogue and policy innovation/coordination
    • incentive structures
    • catalysing investment
    • private sector engagement/partnerships
    • regional and global platforms
    • integration of nutrition, agriculture, rural development, climate change, environment etc.
    • Social protection
  • What is the role of different stakeholders in food systems transformation?
  • What role can donors play to support this transformation and how does it align or vary with current investments?
  • What could be the niche and value add of the GDPRD in supporting food systems transformation?

Event #2

Pathways for food systems transformation


  • Ron Hartman, Director, Global Engagement, Partnership and Resource Mobilization Division, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)


  • Tristan Armstrong, Sector Specialist, Agricultural Productivity and Food Security, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia
  • Conrad Rein, Policy Officer, Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission
  • Paul van de Logt, Head, Food and Nutrition Security, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands

Building on the high-level session, session 2 dived into the main issues, with discussions aimed at developing concrete contributions to the FSS. This brainstorming session sought to clarify where donors should focus their efforts and what ideas should shape future donor thinking on food systems. The issues identified included.

Main highlights:

COORDINATION AND ALIGNMENT OF ACTORS: A top priority for initiating transformative action and the basis for all the areas discussed, such as supporting policy, brokering value chain innovation, and coordinating crisis response.

CATALYSING AND DE-RISKING FINANCING: Recognizing that financing systems are highly dynamic and complex – and carry risks for each actor along the value chain – donors can deliver financing that mitigates risk and benefits all actors.

SUPPORTING POLICY INNOVATION: By engaging to forge a deep understanding of each stakeholder’s needs, the donor community can work together to create an enabling policy environment, ensuring that the benefits of investments in food systems reach smallholders.

BROKERING INNOVATION IN AGRICULTURAL VALUE CHAINS: Conventional approaches have thus far not brought systemic change. The donor community needs to support value chain innovation that maximizes opportunities for small-scale farmers and incentivizes private investment.

BUILDING THE KNOWLEDGE BASE AND CAPACITY: Strengthening smallholders’ capacity for value chain integration is critical, but governments, private-sector actors and other stakeholders – including donors – require knowledge in order to support food systems that leave no one behind.

COORDINATED CRISIS RESPONSE: Conflict, climate and now COVID-19 are hindering food systems transformation. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has also spurred innovation around crisis response. This experience can be built upon to tackle longer-term crisis risks and build resilient food systems.

FOSTERING AN ENABLING INFRASTRUCTURE AND IT: Beyond just bringing produce to market, targeted infrastructural investments bring digital technologies the last mile to smallholders, and ensure that they benefit through greater connectivity to value chains and use of data.

Event #3

Click to watch livestream recording of the event

Food Systems: Data for evidence-based policymaking


  • Ammad Bahalim, Policy Officer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation


  • Jaron Porciello, Co-Director, Ceres2030 / Cornell University
  • David Laborde, Co-Director, Ceres2030 / International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
  • El-Iza Mohamedou, Programme Manager, 50x2030
  • Thule Lenneiye, Coordinator, Agriculture Transformation Office (ATO), Ministry of Agriculture Kenya

This special session focused on the importance of reliable, accurate and timely data to drive food systems transformation – and the actions needed by the global donor community to strengthen data systems. The session highlighted two promising initiatives promoted by the SDG2 Roadmap Donor Working Group. The Ceres2030 initiative has brought together 84 researchers from 25 countries and 53 organizations to build an evidence base for informed policymaking. Hosted by the World Bank, 5x2030 has engaged several countries and donor agencies to scale up agricultural surveys in 50 countries by 2030. Both these initiatives show how the GDPRD supports the generation of high-quality data – and the capacity for all stakeholders to make use of these data.

The session also introduced a country-level perspective on how data – and capacity for utilizing it – can facilitate the design of enabling policies underpinning agricultural transformation. Donors have a crucial convening role in putting innovations in data to work: sharing best practices across regions and strengthening capacity to use data wisely.

Event #4

Click to watch livestream recording of the event

Catalyzing responsible private sector investments for food systems transformation


  • Jim Woodhill, AgriFoodNexus Consulting, Honorary Research Associate, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

Opening Remarks:

  • David Hegwood, Senior Advisor, Global Engagement Bureau for Resilience and Food Security, U.S. Agency for International Development


  • Sean de Cleene, Head, Food Systems Initiative and Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum
  • Leesa Shrader, Program Director, AgriFin Accelerate and AgriFin Digital Farmer, Programs, Mercy Corps
  • Ishmael Sunga, Chief Executive Officer, Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions
  • Berry Marttin, Member of the Managing Board, Rabobank
  • Chea Serey, Assistant Governor and Director General of Central Banking, National Bank of Cambodia

The final session of the 2020 AGA brought together pre-eminent voices from the public, private and financing sectors to discuss how the private sector and the donor community can together bring about tangible transformation. The dialogue explored how donors and private actors can mobilize concrete multi-stakeholder action to accelerate progress towards the SDGs.

Panellists stressed the need to incentivize public-private partnerships that lay the groundwork for sustainability, including through innovative financing arrangements. The donor community can facilitate this by convening partners and providing the necessary liquidity to transform value chains. The panellists also explored how innovations in digital data can catalyse rural transformation while fostering inclusivity. The insights gained from these discussions will inform action-oriented recommendations in the lead-up to the FSS, nurturing the emerging ecosystem of next-generation, multi-stakeholder partnerships.


Contacts AGA [ID: 558]

Contact | Secretariat

Maurizio Navarra

Secretariat Coordinator

protected email