Food Systems Innovation

Innovation Lever of Change


The Innovation Lever, as part of the UN Food Systems Summit, brings together a diverse community representing public, private, social sector innovation partners in a commitment to make innovation a significant enabling factor for food systems transformation and to support the objectives of the Summit.




Global food systems have played a huge part in decreasing hunger but have become unsustainable for both people and the planet. They leave billions of people inadequately nourished, operate at a high environmental cost, waste large amounts of what is produced and leave many of their producers at or below the poverty level. Business as usual and current operating models are falling short and failing the most vulnerable stakeholders, although food systems have been. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 requires a deep and bold transformation to produce food systems that are inclusive, resilient, sustainable, efficient, nutritious, and healthy. With 2030 already on the horizon and food systems globally reeling from the impacts of COVID-19, achieving this transformation will depend on our ability to innovate in a way that is broad, inclusive and encompasses all of society.  


·       To innovate is to improve towards the 2030 goals through how we collaborate and work with different stakeholders, including the most vulnerable; how businesses and governments operate and with whom they engage; and how we use existing and new knowledge and technologies be they scientific, indigenous, or other.  


·       Improvements will come from creating open processes that enable partnerships across the public and private sector. These collaborations will create value that no single organization can create alone. Some solutions will be novel. Others will come from scaling and adapting existing technology or knowledge solutions, business models or societal inclusion practices into different contexts. These solutions should be linked to standards that can drive local, regional and global scale. Innovation must be understood in this broad, inclusive way for countries and communities to change food systems in ways that are effective and improve the scale, quality and equity of the systems.  


Call for Collective Action: Fast-Tracking Food Systems Transformation 


To catalyse food system transformation, countries must innovate across all four areas identified by the Innovation Lever: Societal and Institutional, National and Regional, Data and Digital, and Knowledge and Technological innovation. This holistic view of innovation is designed to ensure that food systems transformation takes place at the local, national, and global levels, through inclusive and participatory multi-stakeholder approaches that leave no one behind


In occasion of the UN Food Systems Summit, the Innovation Lever of Change co-led by Mercy Corps and the World Economic Forum, produced a Policy Brief inviting countries to implement this innovation agenda by making the below commitments that put into practice the four innovation areas: 


·       Commit to changing how decisions are made and how we collaborate so that all stakeholders enjoy their right to participate in decision-making.  

Improving our existing approaches and models of collaboration will help us to make more equitable and better informed decisions, by drawing on a broader pool of knowledge, technologies and expertise, producing better business, data and technical solutions. Get behind the Governance Solution Cluster, which provides guidance on how to implement changes through inclusive and participatory means. Engage in the Future of Food Systems Collaboration, a post-summit partnership that aims to collectively champion, frame and support stakeholders on the how. Offering practical tools, capacities and collaborative methods that can be customized to contexts and interests. 


·       Commit to actively fostering and championing innovation at a local and national level.  

Join the network of national and regional  Food Innovation Hubs , which collectively aim to stimulate innovation through collaborative multi-stakeholder action leveraging knowledge, technology, data and institutional capacity to develop local innovation ecosystems to meet local needs in addressing food system challenges. The national and regional Food Innovation Hubs will: (1) Foster and cultivate food systems innovation for localized impact, (2) Support delivery and adoption of technology innovations at scale, and (3) Develop a community of practice to share innovation learnings and build capacity. 


·       Commit to a nature-positive and net-zero transformation.  

To achieve the goal of environmentally sustainable food systems, change must be inclusive and harness existing and new forms of knowledge and technology. Support the 100 Million Farmers initiative to ensure that the farmer is at the center of a sustainable and inclusive transformation. The initiative has three objectives: (1) Demonstrate the ability of food systems to shift away from significant emissions and nature degradation towards climate mitigation, adaptation and nature restoration, (2) Catalyse a global, scalable transition that incentivises 100 million farmers to adopt regenerative and climate-smart practices, while empowering 1 billion consumers to demand and support this type of agricultural production, and (3) Facilitate collective action to deliver net-zero commitments and maximise co-benefits that achieve ‘carbon+’ outcomes for healthy people and a healthy planet. 


Essential to all three initiatives above is to develop a data and digital ecosystem that is less fragmented, more open and inclusive.  Data and digital systems must integrate across geographies, within and beyond country borders, and across the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Adopt the Fair Future Food Marketplace reference model, a transparent, inclusive, sustainable scale model enabling all actors, from smallholder farmers to consumers, to build more efficient, interactive, climate-smart markets for healthy and nutritious food. Facilitate the One Map development and join the Digital Data Cornucopia consortium, to achieve global food systems transformation at the intersection of digital technologies with the natural and social sciences.


UN Food Systems Summit: Innovation is a key enabler and accelerator of food systems transformation

Watch statement from the People Plenary here


Public Forum on Innovation Lever of Change in support of the UN Food Systems Summit


Part I - Watch here

Part II - Watch here

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