GFAR blog

A GFAR Webinar: Maintaining momentum in the implementation of the UNFSS National Pathways

by the GFAR Secretariat

How can we engage with and support the implementation of the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) national pathways, and how can we catalyze innovation and research to support these pathways?

These two questions were at the heart of a webinar that we hosted in partnership with the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub on 19 January 2023. Welcoming more than 250 people from across the world, this knowledge-sharing webinar provided a valuable space for participants to discuss progress in developing and implementing national pathways towards resilient, inclusive and sustainable food systems, as well as to report on achievements to-date.

With many observers arguing that progress remains too slow in achieving the transformation of national food systems, the webinar also provided an important opportunity to address the key factors that are blocking progress.

Below, we outline a few of the webinar’s key takeaways and suggestions (a full overview of the webinar, meanwhile, can be found here).

But first – What is the UNFSS and what are “National Pathways”?

Recognizing the fragility of the world’s food systems and their inability to provide adequate food for all, the UN held its first ever Food Systems Summit (FSS) in September 2021. Exploring ways in which food systems can be transformed and leveraged to address pressing global challenges such as hunger, climate change, inequality and poverty, the Summit concluded with a global agenda for fostering an inclusive process to build food systems that deliver progress across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Amongst numerous important outcomes, the Summit recognized the need to build upon good practices; to invest in science and technology; and to engage all communities—particularly women, youth, Indigenous Peoples, business and producers—in delivering change. Perhaps the most tangible outcome was an agreement for countries to develop and implement “national pathways” for reshaping food systems. These pathways are to engage all stakeholders and are to be supported by the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub.

Prioritising Research and Innovation in Egypt

To help GFAR members understand the national pathway process and how they can support their development and implementation, Ambassador Mohamed Negm (Deputy Assistant Foreign Minister for Specialized International Agencies) provided an informative update on Egypt’s progress to-date.

As one of the world’s largest food importers, Egypt is acutely vulnerable to external disruptions, such as high world food prices triggered by the war in Ukraine. Transforming the country’s agriculture and food systems is therefore of critical importance, explained Ambassador Negm. Having conducted a multistakeholder national dialogue process to  address concerns regarding food availability, quality and safety, five key recommendations were agreed for Egypt’s national pathway—including amongst them the need to scale up nutrition-sensitive agriculture programmes, sustainable agri-food systems and climate smart agriculture. New technology and research will be instrumental in achieving these recommendations: “we are really counting on initiatives that can help us in maximizing our food security and food system,” said Negm.

The Importance of Youth Involvement

Speaking on behalf of the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD), Pramisha Thalaypia emphasized the need to  empower youth communities and ensure they are mobilized and engaged in FSS follow-up. Highlighting the key role that youth can play in developing solutions to the challenges facing agri-food systems, she said: “We want to see countries include youth organizations and youth members as key stakeholders during the important process of implementing national pathways.”

Transformation through collaboration

Collaborative innovation and design processes offer an important means for realizing the transformation of food systems, said Martina Spisiakova (Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions, APAARI). This is illustrated by the GFAR-facilitated Collective Action on Forgotten Foods and co-innovation processes in India. Stressing the important role played by farmers, she explained that “we are really embracing farmers’ interest in the co-design and co-innovation aspect of systems for agricultural transformation, and this should be an important aspect of the national pathways that we are trying to implement.”

Contribute to the FSS Stocktaking Moment (26-28 July 2023)

This first global follow-up event to the 2021 FSS will enable countries to report on the development and implementation of national pathways and the contributions of these national pathways to the achievement of the SDGs. Together with the UN and a wide range of stakeholders, countries will review their progress and identity bottlenecks as well as support that is needed. The UN Food Systems Coordination Hub encouraged GFAR members to get involved in this process at the country level and to contribute to the stocktaking moment to take place in mid-2023.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the webinar – we were pleased to see so many of you there. Stay tuned for future events!

The next webinar will take place on 27 February and will focus on questions related to soil fertility and sustainability in the context of global challenges.  Click here for more information and to register for the event!

This blog is part of the GFAR Partners in Action series, celebrating the achievements of our diverse network of partners who are working together to shape a new, sustainable future for agriculture and food.

Join the conversation in the comments below or share this article on social media using #GFARinAction.

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