Food and Water

Leveraging technology and innovation to transform food systems

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Food and Water

  • Global food systems face increasing pressures from volatile climate, geopolitics and rising costs.
  • Around 40% of arable land is degraded, 2 billion people suffer from malnutrition, while 33% of food produced for human consumption is either lost or wasted, increasing the global challenge of ensuring a food-secure world.
  • These pressures demand urgent action, innovative solutions and unprecedented collaboration, The Food Innovation Hubs Global Initiative is a response to this need.
  • Through six country-led hubs and a Food Innovators Network, it aims to accelerate fit-for-purpose technology and innovations to secure a positive food future.
  • This initiative has been catalysed by the World Economic Forum with a diverse group of organizations including support from Government of Netherlands, Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, United Arab Emirates and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Confronting food system challenges.

Food security is a critical challenge – the World Bank includes it among the eight global challenges to be addressed at scale in 2024. Climate shocks, economic instability and geopolitics have significantly impacted crop yields and food supply chains.


  • Around 40% of arable land is degraded and 33% of food produced for human consumption is either lost or wasted, increasing the global challenge of ensuring a food-secure world.
  • Meanwhile, one third of GHG emissions, 80% of deforestation, and over 70% of freshwater use globally originate from food systems.
  • 2 Billion people suffer from malnutrition, 735 million people suffer from hunger, and 49 million people are at risk of famine.

A fundamental shift in the way we produce and consume food is necessary. Technology and innovations are powerful enablers and catalysts of change.

When coupled with the right collaboration models and investments, these innovations could make food systems one of the most hopeful solutions on climate action, improving water security, reducing equity and nourishing all.

The Food Innovation Hubs Global Initiative.

That is why the World Economic Forum has worked with a diverse set of stakeholders to develop the Food Innovation Hubs Global Initiative. The initiative is founded on the principle that technology and innovation offers a pathway to enable sustainable and resilient food systems that can nourish all.

However, strengthening innovation ecosystems is needed to truly capture the pace of technology in food systems. These ecosystems need to offer new collaboration models, insights and market-led investment opportunities that can support adoption and acceleration of technology that is fit-for-purpose.

This initiative is part of the Forum’s broader effort toward the transformation of global food and water systems. Since 2021, six pace-setter hubs are under development across the world connected by a global Food Innovators Network.

  • Europe: The first regional hub, building on the learnings for the Netherlands food innovation ecosystem, accelerates innovations across nutrition and health, as well as protein transitions and circular agrifood. It is developing a regenerative innovation portfolio to drive sustainable farming in Europe with a landscape approach.
  • India: The India hub scales agri-tech innovations to improve farmer resilience and market development, in collaboration with the State of Madhya Pradesh. This work includes a digital assaying tool used by 1900+ farmers across 5 marketplaces, where 30 weather stations help to improve crop insurance, soil carbon sequestration covering 2,000 hectares of land and digitizing 50 farmer producer organizations. With the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, other states include Telangana and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Colombia: The Colombia hub operates as a public-private co-investment platform to establish tech-driven regenerative agriculture centers of excellence in support of rural development The first center of excellence will be launched in May 2024 focused on crop clusters of potato and barley across 3000+ farms.
  • Kenya: The Kenya hub will focus on building a data and digital ecosystem that benefits the entire agricultural value chain. So far, an agriculture data coordination mechanism is being developed, with two use cases for soil health measurement and yield forecasting.
  • Viet Nam: Endorsed by the Prime Minister of Viet Nam in December 2023, the Viet Nam hub aspires to drive sustainable food systems through digital technologies. For example, it is improving the emissions profile of one million hectares of rice by integrating technology into production and supply chains.
  • UAE: Launched at the UN Climate Change Conference 2023 (COP28), the UAE hub focuses on becoming an innovation center for arid climate food futures. Its pillars include accelerating arid climate production systems, addressing supply chain challenges, and integrating sustainable alternatives into diets.

Food Innovators Network.

Alongside mobilizing unique partnerships and country-led innovation ecosystems, the focus is also to drive insights on the latest frontiers in innovation, share knowledge, and foster entrepreneurship. This is achieved through the Food Innovators Network (FIN), which brings together the food systems innovation community including entrepreneurs, investors, private sector, policy experts, governments, technology experts, farmer organizations and thought leaders.

Have you read?
  • Transforming Food Systems: Pathways for Country-led Innovation
  • Transforming Food Systems with Farmers: A Pathway for the EU

The network is focusing on global innovation frontiers, looking ahead to ensuring a food-secure world. Two innovation sprints are underway:

  • Accelerating protein innovation to support the diversification of protein sources in line with consumer and producer needs. This area of work has seen learnings shared globally from early investments protein innovation ecosystems.
  • Technologies for soil health to close knowledge gaps and showcase the status of mature technologies through knowledge sharing. The sprint is currently exploring collaboration opportunities for scale in Africa.

Upcoming Efforts: Reimagining Future Food Systems – Food Innovation Conference 2024.

The global initiative will host the Food Innovation Conference from May 13-15 in Dubai, UAE. Under the theme “Reimagining Future Food Systems”, stakeholders will convene to exchange knowledge, facilitate partnership opportunities, scale frontier technology solutions, deepen cooperation and accelerate the movement on food systems innovation globally. This high-level event will be hosted by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives.

How to get involved.

Globally, the initiative depends on high-quality partnerships and long-term commitments from all stakeholders.

As of May 2024, over 200 members have joined the Food Innovators Network from 26 countries. Major partners in this initiative include World Food Programme, Alliance for Bioversity International and CIAT, Grow Asia, EIT Foods, Mastercard, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Anheuser Busch InBev, Bayer, UPL, Upfield, Al Dahra Holdings, Majjid Al Futtaim Retail, Food Valley Netherlands, AIM for Climate (AIM4C), UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Wageningen University, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Viet Nam, State of Madhya Pradesh, Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Boston Consulting Group (BCG) as well as several innovators such as Aleph Farms, Avant Meats, Boomitra, Digital Green, Skymet Weathers, and others.

As we deepen our engagement in existing hubs while expanding our geographic reach, join this collective movement towards scaling food systems innovation.

Join us today and help shape a better future
Get involved
Join us today and help shape a better future
Get involved
Anheuser-Busch InBevBayerBill & Melinda Gates FoundationBoston Consulting Group (BCG)Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)MastercardMicrosoftPepsiCoUnited Nations World Food Programme (WFP)UPL
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