Jim: What sort of investments are necessary to meet the capacity needs at the local level? What policy environment is needed to underpin these investments, and how can donors support these two elements in partnership with national governments?
Martin: Investments in areas such as market development or enhancing access to technology for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are incentivized through policy interventions. These interventions might even take the form of short-term policies to catalyse growth in given economic segments.
Jim: Is the achievement of SDG 2 just about addressing the funding shortfall as highlighted in the CERES 2030 report, or is it also about doing things in a smarter way?
Martin: There are a number of things that needs to be done. They should, however, embrace decentralized government systems.
First, the active engagement of people should be at the forefront of implementation. It is at this level that a food systems approach is already taking shape, as implementers at this level cannot avoid the connections, synergies, complementarities and trade-offs across different sectors.
Second, laying down practical inclusive systems. This means including the right people at the right point in the policy-making equation. Particularly the constituencies that will be involved in implementation need to be involved at every stage. Broader inclusion also improves accountability in policy choices and investment, leading to improved service delivery and value-for-money.
Food systems transformation at the local level may not necessarily fit with traditional donor funding mechanisms. There needs to be an appreciation for the value of medium to long-term investments in improving the capability to deliver systems change. In addition, well-articulated blended public-private solutions should be considered.
It is not only about the volume of funding. It is also about the type of funding instruments used.
Jim: What are the funding mechanisms or modalities you would like to see changed? What is it that donors could fundamentally be doing differently to help this vision of a much more effective local food systems capacity?
Martin: Donor organizations face different pressures from their governments and taxpayers. With a medium to long-term investment strategy, donors would be able to present much better results on their return on investment to their taxpayers.
The question however, is how to do this? One way could be through channelling more funding into sub-national systems to strengthen capabilities in planning, resource allocation and accountability.