Agroecological and Other Innovative Approaches for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems that Enhance Food Security and Nutrition

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High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition

Food systems are at a crossroads. Profound transformation is needed to address Agenda 2030 and to achieve food security and nutrition (FSN) in its four dimensions of availability, access, utilization and stability, and to face multidimensional and complex challenges, including a growing world population, urbanization and climate change, which drive increased pressure on natural resources, impacting land, water and biodiversity. This need has been illustrated from various perspectives in previous HLPE reports and is now widely recognized. This transformation will profoundly affect what people eat, as well as how food is produced, processed, transported and sold. In this context, in October 2017, the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) requested its High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) on FSN to produce a report on “Agroecological approaches and other innovations for sustainable agriculture and food systems that enhance food security and nutrition” to inform its discussions during the Forty-sixth CFS Plenary Session in October 2019.

In this report, the HLPE explores the nature and potential contributions of agroecological and other innovative approaches to formulating transitions towards sustainable food systems (SFSs) that enhance FSN. The HLPE adopts a dynamic, multiscale perspective, focusing on the concepts of transition and transformation. Many transitions need to occur in particular production systems and across the food value chain to achieve major transformation of whole food systems. Both incremental transitions at small scales and structural changes to institutions and norms at larger scales need to take place in a coordinated and integrated way in order to achieve the desired transformation of the global food system. As highlighted by the HLPE (2016), transition pathways combine technical interventions, investments, and enabling policies and instruments – involving a variety of actors at different scales. In its previous reports, the HLPE (2016, 2017b) highlighted a diversity of food systems across and within countries. These food systems are situated in different environmental, sociocultural and economic contexts and face very diverse challenges. Hence, actors in food systems will have to design context-specific transition pathways towards sustainable food systems (SFSs). Moving beyond this context-specificity, the HLPE (2016) identified the three following intertwined operational principles that shape transition pathways towards SFSs for FSN: (i) improve resource efficiency; (ii) strengthen resilience; and (iii) secure social equity/responsibility.

This report starts from the recognition of human rights as the basis for ensuring sustainable food systems. It considers that the seven PANTHER principles of Participation, Accountability, Nondiscrimination, Transparency, Human dignity, Empowerment and the Rule of law should guide individual and collective actions to address the four dimensions of FSN at different scales. This report and its recommendations aim at helping decision-makers, in governments and international organizations, research institutions, the private sector and civil society organizations, design and implement concrete transition pathways towards more SFSs at different scales, from local (farm, community, landscape) to national, regional and global levels.

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