Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

  • 3 March 2020

Cultivating a connected food system in Davos

Image: Makasana / Adobe Stock

Dr Monika Zurek from the ECI's Food System Transformation Group was invited to present her work as an 'Idea Giver' at the World Economic Forum 2020 (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, immediate and urgent action is required to transform how food is produced, processed, accessed, valued and consumed. Recognition of this need is growing, driven by rapidly increasing concerns regarding diet-related health effects, the damage to ecosystem services, links to climate change and distress among multiple millions of small-scale food producers. Nature magazine's Editor in Chief Magdalena Skipper organized an IdeasLab at the WEF, called 'Cultivating a Connected Food System,' to shed light upon key food systems challenges and surface solutions.

Dr Monika Zurek, together with Prof Gretchen Daily from Stanford University, was invited to present her work. Monika talked about food system assessments and developing integrated and coordinated solutions for transformative change together with food system stakeholder. She presented a recently concluded EU Horizon 2020 project called SUSFANS which assessed current EU food and nutrition security outcomes and various options for change and their associated potential trade-offs (www.susfans.eu). Gretchen presented case studies on ecosystem services assessments in agricultural landscapes and the INVEST modelling tool to guide land management decisions.

Moderated by Dr David Nabarro, former special adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda, around 40 participants then discussed in small groups. Topics covered included:

  • The need for new, multi stakeholder visions for food system change;
  • Specific solutions to deal with potential trade-offs between food production and nature conservation;
  • How to incentivize policy change to achieve better nutrition outcomes;
  • The role of the private sector and farmers in food system change.

Table discussions were led by Theo de Jager, President of the World Farmers' Organisation, J. Erik Fyrwald, CEO of Syngenta, and Gerda Verburg, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Coordinator, Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, together with Gretchen and Monika.

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