Published originally at: https://pledge.zerohungercoalition.org/en/anticipating-unfss-stocktaking-moment
A look into the discussions at the 4th Global Conference of the Sustainable Food Systems Programme which served as a preview of what we can expected during the UN Food Systems Summit’s Stocktaking Moment in July.
The UN Food Systems Summit’s (UNFSS) first-ever Stocktaking Moment, to take place in July, offers an opportunity for governments to voluntarily present their progress towards their national action plans, or National Pathways, for healthier, resilient, equitable, and sustainable food systems.
In anticipation of the Stocktaking Moment, the 4th Global Conference of the Sustainable Food Systems Programme (SFSP) of the UN One Planet Network (OPN) which took place in Hanoi, Vietnam from 24-27 April provided substantial input towards the UNFSS. During this conference, National Convenors presented brief overviews of their progress, including the challenges that have emerged while implementing their National Pathways.
With implementation underway, governments need detailed budgets and financial flows. They are urged to prioritize their action tracks on which to focus their budgets in order to measure financial input against impact. Several civil society organizations, such as the World Benchmarking Alliance, have highlighted the need for an accountability and monitoring framework so that success can be measured and ambition gaps closed.
The session on Measuring Transformation highlighted that accountability for the private sector is a critical factor in achieving National Pathway success. Measuring tools to assess the status of the private sector in meeting different sets of guidelines and metrics has proven to be an effective mechanism to support governments in holding the private sector accountable. There was recognition for the need to co-create an accountability framework with the UNFSS Coordination Hub to support governments. However, the exact process remains unclear. The role of the private sector, in general, was not strongly emphasized during the conference and several civil society organizations recognized this during their comments.
The main takeaways from the conference reiterated the need to have a holistic, system-wide perspective on food systems through a multi-stakeholder collaborative approach that can address the interrelated crises of food insecurity, malnutrition, health, climate change, biodiversity loss, conflict, as well as high energy and consumer prices. Interesting thoughts during the sessions and conversations included:
- Many speakers highlighted how their school meal initiatives influenced dietary change and consumption habits.
- Many stressed that the agriculture sector is risky and unfavorable for private investment.
- Public funds and international development financing are crucial within global financial flows.
- A total of 120 National Pathways have been developed.
- National Pathway implementation is embedded into national action plans and strategies such as food security action plans and national nutrition strategies.
- Governments are focusing on game-changing solutions and innovations to tackle unprecedented challenges.
- There are differences among approaches and priorities at the country level. Collaboration between governments needs to be strengthened.
- Financial support is critical to the success of National Pathways, although ministry budget constraints restrict the ability to implement action plans appropriately.
- Governments need to reassess their National Pathways to determine whether they are sufficiently ambitious and meet the necessary targets.
Two topics needed to be addressed but were missing:
- Seafood and ocean health as integral within food systems (rationale that GHG emissions remain the focus and thus has seafood sided); and
- A science-policy interface at the center of the biodiversity-climate-water nexus which is central to tackling controversial topics.
Other discussions regarding controversy around diets, the role of consumers, food sovereignty, climate justice, and natural resource management were mentioned but considered lower priorities. This is not to imply that these topics were not seen as necessary by the participants but rather were not within the scope of government action plans.
The Stocktaking Moment in July will showcase the progress made by governments in achieving their National Pathways. The Coordination Hub readily provides governments with a template, Voluntarily Progress Report and for stories/best practices to help document their actions. However, with a lack of a monitoring framework and targets, it will be difficult to compare results with baseline data and draw conclusions about progress underway.
The Stocktaking Moment should provide a forum to devise concrete processes to follow up on the actions made by governments and the private sector. The inclusion of non-state actors will be important to help determine how this process should look during the next bi-annual moments until 2030 is reached.