Sustainable Food Systems Programme

Sustainable Food Systems Programme

Current Stage: Step 1

The Sustainable Food Systems Programme (SFSP) is jointly developed by UNEP and FAO, building on previous work under the Agri-food Taskforce, and planned for launch at Expo Milan in May 2015. 

Given the central role of food in society, the proposed 10YFP Sustainable Food Systems Programme is foreseen as a significant opportunity to contribute to accelerating the shift to sustainable consumption and production in both developing and developed countries. Sustainable food systems are key to ensuring sustainable development. They have to ensure food security and nutrition and satisfy a growing demand, for quantity, quality and diversity. At the same time current food production and consumption already exerts a considerable impact on the environment and plays a significant socio-economic role. By leveraging international collaboration, networks and research, stimulating innovation, new project implementation and scaling up current initiatives, a global programme on sustainable food systems is an opportunity to improve the sustainable consumption and production of food.

About the 10YFP Public Consultation on the proposed Sustainable Food Systems Programme

UNEP together with FAO conducted a global survey on the Sustainable Food Systems Programme (SFSP) during June-July 2014. This was a public consultation widely disseminated among stakeholders and open to all. It included general questions regarding the proposed goal for the SFSP, challenges, opportunities and key issues for making food systems more sustainable as well as an invitation to express interest to participate in the programme. The survey was available in English, French and Spanish, and gathered participation from 55 countries. Among the 212 participants, 29% were researchers, 25% represented civil society organizations, 18% were from governmental institutions and 8 % came from the private sector.

The preliminary findings were presented at an expert session of the Agri-Food Taskforce at the FAO Headquarters (11-12 September 2014, Rome, Italy). In the initial results of the survey, the main barriers to sustainable food systems cited as “underlying challenges” were identified as the following: 

  • Lack of joined-up policymaking

  • Lack of tools, information, knowledge and best practice

  • Lack of adequate incentives

  • Limited understanding of what constitutes a sustainable food system

  • Lack of available data, methodology and standards

The survey indicated that food security and nutrition, climate change, food losses and waste, biodiversity and habitat loss, and water scarcity and efficiency were key issues of focus for the programme.

Download the presentation of the main findings of the survey here.

Stocktaking exercise

A stock-taking exercise of existing initiatives and trends in the area of sustainable food systems will soon be conducted.

Agri-Food Taskforce Meeting

A consultative meeting on the new programme taking into account the results of the online survey was held with the members of the Agri-Food Taskforce on SCP (11-12 September 2014, FAO headquarters, Rome). The following outline of the SFSP gained general consensus among Taskforce members:

Vision: All food systems are sustainable, delivering food security and nutrition for all in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrition for future generations are not compromised.

Goal: To promote, enhance and facilitate the shift towards more sustainable food systems.

Work streams:

WS1: Increasing the availability, accessibility and sharing of actionable knowledge, information and tools for sustainable consumption and production.
WS2: Encourage, facilitate and support integrated multi-stakeholder dialogue to help inform interconnected policymaking towards sustainable food systems at local, national, regional and international levels.
WS3: Facilitating the use and enhance opportunities for market-based and/or voluntary approaches throughout supply chain towards sustainable food systems.

A call for expression of interest to be a lead actor or a member of the Multi-stakeholder Advisory Committee (MAC) will be launched in the upcoming months.

Food waste prevention, as one of the key issues identified in the public consultation, is likely to be a prominent theme among the SFSP’s activities. UNEP’s existing activities on the topic, via the Think Eat Save initiative, are elaborated upon below.

Food waste prevention and the Think.Eat.Save Guidance Document

UNEP together with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), FAO and the SAVE FOOD Initiative, have recently launched Guidance on the Prevention and Reduction of Food and Drink Waste. This first of its kind document shows governments, local authorities, and businesses ways they can act to reduce food waste and save natural resources.

The Guidance provides a basis for targeted action. A full journey is presented for users, beginning with the mapping and measuring food waste and the development national or regional policies and measures. In-depth modules then focus on programmes for food waste prevention in households and in the food supply chain. Version 1.0 is published today, to be enriched progressively as many more countries around the world begin to take on the challenge and reap the benefits of food waste reduction.

To this end, UNEP is recruiting pilot countries and cities without existing frameworks for food waste prevention to test the Guidance over the coming years. Technical and strategic support will be provided to in-country teams of the pilot countries and cities, as they initiate, define, deliver and monitor food waste prevention programmes. 

Get involved today!

The 10YFP Sustainable Food Systems Programme (SFSP) is open to organizations and individual experts interested in joining a collaborative platform to support activities that relate to sustainable food systems and the objectives of the programme. 

Contact us: If you are interested in further information or being involved in development of the Programme, please email the Secretariat at

Register your sustainable food systems (SFS) activities and get the latest news on SFS at the Global SCP Clearinghouse: