How to build bottom-up governance needed for food system transformation

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By Sean Mattson

If food waste were a country, it would be the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States. Current food systems also fail to properly feed and nourish humanity, with some 700-800 million people suffering from food insecurity. Estimates run into the billions for people afflicted by poor diets.

The impacts of food waste on nature are tremendous. In wasting 1/3 of food, we’re wasting the water, land, energy and other resources that go into producing it. Governance, therefore, is critical to enacting food-system transformation, and the greatest likelihood of success will come from people-centered interventions.

In a COP28 panel, hosted by the WWF, Alexander Müller of the TMG Research gGmbH – TMG Think Tank for Sustainability discussed the above and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)‘s Wei Zhang talked about the next steps: how to build bottom-up governance needed for food system transformation.

“We’re doing a lot of work on how to operationalize food-system transformation at the local level,” said Zhang, who contributes research to CGIAR‘s Initiatives on Nature-Positive Solutions and Low-Emission Food Systems.

Zhang spoke about the living labs for people (LL4P), which puts “people in the center, not just as technology users but innovators and co-creators of solutions to local challenges which typically mirror challenges at larger scales such as climate change, environmental degradation, food insecurity, poverty, and social inequity.” And solutions need to be nature-positive to ensure a sustainable pathway to development.

“LL4P is an inclusive and diverse space for people to co-design, test, demonstrate and advance their socio-technical innovations and associated modes of governance within a facilitated organizational structure,” Zhang said.

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See more information on the CGIAR Initiative on Low-Emission Food Systems here and on the CGIAR Initiative on Nature-Positive Solutions here

Photo credit: Wei Zhang (left) speaks during a WWF-hosted session at COP28 in Dubai, UAE  / Sean Mattson / Alliance of Bioversity-CIAT

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