New resources for taking a food systems approach to policymaking

May 20, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Results for Development (R4D) and the Centre for Food Policy at City, University of London today published a new package of resources for policymakers interested in taking a food systems approach to advance healthy diets and combat malnutrition. The resources define what it means to take a food systems approach, explore potential entry points in different sectors, and present ways to identify and engage relevant stakeholders.

Food systems include the chain of activities from farm to fork and beyond (food disposal and waste) and they have enormous potential to support healthy diets and nutrition while also advancing livelihoods and prosperity and protecting the planet due to all the elements (e.g., economic, social, political, environmental, and health) that interconnect. For example, policies that influence one part of the food system have ripple effects across other parts, with implications beyond their immediate objectives. Currently, however, food systems fail to deliver on this potential as these interconnections are not leveraged

“There is an urgent need for an integrated food systems approach for food and nutrition-related policymaking,” said Albertha Nyaku, nutrition practice lead at R4D. “Indeed, the release of these resources is very timely amid the worsening crisis of global hunger and malnutrition exacerbated by global conflicts such as the war in Ukraine and the impact of COVID 19.” 

This resource package, Taking a Food Systems Approach to Policymaking: A Resource for Policymakers, includes an executive summary, evidence review and four technical briefs that provide practical ideas for how to operationalize a food systems approach — holistically and effectively — to achieve greater impact on food system outcomes. It also provides country examples that illustrate real-world examples and give links to existing tools and resources that policymakers can use to get started or to bolster ongoing efforts

Taking a food systems approach to policymaking does not imply that all countries will follow a single pathway. Much depends on the policy issue and the context. These resources explore how policymakers can decide which policy or set of policies will work for their context, and how they can ensure they are leveraging the benefits and managing the risks across multiple food system objectives.

The resources were developed through a collaborative process involving consultations with experts and government representatives working on food systems at the global, regional and country levels. Country policymakers supported the development of these resources, emphasizing the challenge they face related to the interconnected dimensions of the food system and the multisectoral and multi-stakeholders aspects of the food system.

The package was designed primarily for policymakers in government ministries and agencies with responsibility for any policy with the potential to influence diets and nutrition, such as policies on food, agriculture, the environment, health, transportation, trade, education, and the economy. However, they can also be used by advocates, funders, program managers, and other stakeholders seeking to understand, encourage, and/or pursue a food systems approach to policymaking

This resource package was developed with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 


About Results for Development
Results for Development (R4D) is a leading non-profit global development partner. We collaborate with change agents — government officials, civil society leaders and social innovators — supporting them as they navigate complex change processes to achieve large-scale, equitable outcomes in health, education and nutrition. We work with country leaders to diagnose challenges, co-create, innovate and implement solutions built on evidence and diverse stakeholder input, and engage in learning to adapt, iterate and improve. We also strengthen global, regional and country ecosystems to support country leaders with expertise, evidence, and innovations. R4D helps country leaders solve their immediate challenges today, while also strengthening systems and institutions to address tomorrow’s challenges. And we share what we learn so others around the world can achieve results for development too.  

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