How do you see the future of food systems transformation and why are national pathways and coordination even more important?
Stefanos: I see the future of food system transformations as something that can be the big solution to our climate, biodiversity and other planetary crises because food is something that people relate to directly. The concept of food systems is not very familiar with many people, but the UN Food Systems Summit has put a big mark and made food systems a central theme in the international global development agenda.
We have a good starting point to using food systems as a solution to our climate and biodiversity problems. Food systems and the way they operate today are part of the problem, but they can become part of the solution. Why are national pathways important? It’s a commitment of a country to work on this new way of thinking around systems and not only around sectors. It is not only about agricultural production but also about the packaging, distribution, the impact on the environment and on health.
Is there an example of collaboration to bring about this change in your view?
Stefanos: We need to look at three levels. One is at the country level. We have countries that have created national dialogues and pathways. The hub also needs to do some coordination. What we try to do in the hub is bring together coalitions, countries, stakeholders and science, and create a library of solutions for food systems transformation.
Many countries are now saying we need to adapt the pathways because of the current crisis. They understand they need to face, sometimes, the food security crisis they have and make them an internal part of the pathways. It adds one more level of complexity to many countries. We have always been responsive and go beyond response, to preparedness and making resilience an integral part of the food system transformation pathways.
We can do this by looking not only at the monetary aspect of a development plan or infrastructure plan, but also how even intangible values related with resilience, which is community building, peer learning and the need for social and environmental infrastructure, could be part of our development plans.