Chapter 2

Key Inputs from Summit Workstreams


The Summit’s Action Tracks have been defined to highlight essential pathways to support the transformation of our food systems to support the achievement of the SDGs. Their design is the result of careful consideration of the Executive Office of the UN Secretary General and the Special Envoy with input from entities of the UN system, member states, civil society and the private sector. They establish a space within the Food Systems Summit for sharing and learning across constituencies and generating coordinated action, commitments and new partnerships. They are multi-stakeholder in nature, open to all stakeholders and designed to overcome silos.

Guided by the Summit’s vision and objectives, Action Tracks are tasked to create synergies and solutions at local, national, regional, and global levels and to scale up and accelerate existing initiatives which align to the Summit Vision and principles.  To support this work, the action tracks will identify challenges, opportunities, barriers, with the goal of reaching a multi-stakeholder alignment on actions for transforming our food systems.

To support an holistic approach, the Action Tracks are intentionally small in number and present an integrated support mechanism for the SDGs as a whole. The Action Tracks are structured to reflect the complexity and inter-connectedness of food systems of the objectives of the Summit:

  1. Action Track 1: Ensure Access to Safe and Nutritious Food for All – will aim to deliver zero hunger and improve levels of nutrition, enabling all people to be well nourished and healthy.
  2. Action Track 2: Shift to Sustainable Consumption Patterns – will work to change consumer behaviour, create demand for sustainably produced agri- and ocean food products and to help in reducing waste.
  3. Action Track 3: Boost Nature Positive Production at sufficient scale – will work to develop end to end solutions along the food value chain with a view to planetary boundaries. It will in particular act to reduce emissions and increase carbon capture thereby limiting anthopogenic contributions to climate change; promote the regeneration restoration and protection of critical ecosystems to conserve biodiversity, protect land and water, reduce food loss and energy usage.
  4. Action Track 4: Advance Equitable Livelihoods – will ensure that food systems developments expand inclusion, create jobs to eliminate poverty, raising incomes across the food value chain, reducing risks for the world’s poorest and improving value distribution.
  5. Action Track 5: Build Resilience to Vulnerabilities, Shocks and Stress – will act to ensure continued functionality of sustainable food systems both in geographies subject to conflict, climatic and natural resource disasters, but also globally to mitigate the impacts of health related pandemics on food supply in systems at all levels of development.

It is important to stress that these Action Tracks do not exist in silos – nor do food systems themselves. In substance and in practice, each Action Track must be understood to be mutually supporting and inextricably linked and explicitly recognize and incorporate the trade-off associated with alternative sets of action. These tracks will be expected to think through their linkages with others and develop collaborative and coordinated action around key cross-cutting levers of change such as finance, policy, innovation, governance, data and evidence including scientific and indigenous knowledge, the empowerment of women, young people and marginalized groups, and respect cultural differences.  This includes the development of relationships, iterative information exchange and planning across action tracks based on the modelling activities and inputs from the Scientific Group and through engagement with the food systems dialogues, the UN Task Force, and Champions Network. Continuous use of the digital platform developed as part of the supporting structure of the Food Systems Summit is expected in order to receive and share interconnected information and latest thinking.


Key Deliverables 

Each Action Track is expected to:

  • Receive and build out the evidence base, issues, and important knowledge gaps of the Action Track;
  • Collect and extract exemplary game changing and systemic solutions under the Action Track for presentation at the Summit;
  • Identify and proactively engage with “pace setter�? countries, communities, companies,  coalitions of action and others to advance action and commitment to action by the time of the Summit.

From December 2020 through May 2021 each Action Track held online consultations through public surveys to collect ideas and submissions of solutions, actions, good practices, and initiatives to be considered when looking at addressing identified bottlenecks through a systemic lens. More than 2,200 submissions were received by Action Tracks, and were consolidated into synthesis papers, then further consolidated into Action Areas (which include cross track consultations to ensure silo reduction) and then into solution clusters which subsequently provided a basis for working groups and coalitions moving forward.

Discussion starters for reach of the tracks are available here.

ATs have organized 15 FSS Open Fora as well as other stakeholder engagement meetings (with Member States, private sector, civil society etc.). See details below:

Action TrackMain events and consultations
AT 1
  • 3 Open Fora (November 2020, February and May 2021)
  • Member state meetings: 4 MS meetings; additional meetings on the Zero Hunger and Healthy Diets Coalition; 23 one-to-one meetings with MS.
  • Participation in: 3 civil society Open Fora, 9 Dialogues (National/Independent), CEO consultations organised by WBCSD/PSGG, Private sector consultation with AT1, Technical discussion with Global-Hub Indigenous Peoples´ Food Systems
AT 2
  • 3 Open Fora (December 2020, February and April 2021)
  • Dialogues and consultations with MS and constituencies: roundtable dialogue between MS representatives and youth leaders on healthy and sustainable diets; Dialogue with African MS co-organized with AUDA NEPAD and 2 MS consultations on healthy diets coalition; Consultation with the Global Hub for Indigenous People’s Food systems; Online youth consultation
  • Participation in: Civil society Open Forum; Independent youth-led Dialogue; Youth panel discussing Act4Food initiative; Roundtable between youth and food business leaders from Oatly, Compass Group and Bayer;Dialogue with WHO and GAFF
  • Consultation to link FSS to COP26 as part of UNFCCC intersessional meetings;Roundtable together with Tuft’s University
AT 3
  • 3 Open Fora (December 2020, February and April 2021)
  • 3 Member State consultations: January, February and May 2021
AT 4
  • 3 Open Fora (December 2020, February and April 2021)
  • Participation in: meetings with MS (Rome Group of Friends), Civil society GoF meetings, Independent Dialogues with Science Group, youth and others (as speakers, co-host and convenor); Indigenous Peoples Forum; other ATs Open Fora; Producer Open Forum; Finance Open Forum; Champions Network meetings, Policy Forum; Independent regional Dialogue (Nepal and Bangladesh) and one MS Dialogue (Pakistan); CEO Consultation; Geneva Mission Consultation; Global FSS Dialogue with Farmers, Fishers, Pastoralists and Other Producers;
  • Meetings with: PSM, Convenors (Convenor Connection Sessions)
  • Pre-Summit main and affiliated sessions
AT 5
  • 3 Open Fora (December 2020, February and May 2021)
  • 2 Multi-stakeholder dialogues (with MS, civil society, science group, etc.)
  • Meetings with other Summit structures: weekly meetings with Science Group (February-April),2 with Climate Champions, 3 with Youth representatives,
  • Participation in Science Days
  • 9 bilateral meetings with Member Statesand 6 AT5 meetings with MS
  • Member State dialogue on Local Food Supply Chains with AUDA-NEPAD

The Governance group produced a The Governance Action Area, a Policy Brief on the Governance of Food Systems Transformation and developed a set of draft Guiding Principles.


Action Track 1 – Ensure Access to Safe and Nutritious Food for All

Action Track 1 looks at ways to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition and reduce the incidence of diet-related non-communicable diseases, enabling all people to be nourished and healthy and to progressively realize their right to adequate food. This goal requires that all people at all times have access to sufficient quantities and quality of safe food. Three prominent areas have been identified, and for each, a variety of challenges and potentially relevant solutions are now being compiled:

  • Achieving Zero Hunger will require a focus on increasing food availability, on social protection that builds productive assets, on reducing inequalities, on correcting macro distortions (price/taxes), on improving infrastructure (Energy, ICT, storage/marketing), on sustainably increasing food production, and on behavior change around food production and use. A special focus must be given to fragile and conflict-affected settings, as well as youth and gender dimensions.
  • Increasing access to affordable, nutritious foods calls for looking at strengthening food accessibility – especially economic access to healthy diets. Informed by the joint UN publication the 2020 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI), three barriers should be lifted in priority: food prices which are fair to both producers and consumers and better reflect health externalities, purchasing power, and perception of affordability.
  • Increasing food safety requires to reduce food-borne illnesses and deaths due to unsafe food. This calls for action across four areas: policies to support vulnerable consumers, producers and vendors in markets; understanding and preventing risks; an enabling regulatory ecosystem; and fostering consumer demand for food safety.


Action Track 2 – Shift to Sustainable Consumption Patterns

 Action Track 2 works to build consumer demand for sustainably produced food and healthy diets, strengthen local value chains, improve nutrition, and promote the reuse and recycling of food resources, especially among the most vulnerable. This Action Track recognizes that we need to eliminate wasteful patterns of food consumption; and we need to facilitate a transition in diets towards more nutritious foods that require fewer resources to produce and transport.

Three areas call for significant improvements, where a variety of challenges and potentially relevant solutions are now being compiled:

  • Improving Food environments means looking at ways to create or strengthen healthy, safe and sustainable food environments for people to adopt and maintain healthy dietary practices. Looking at availability, distribution, and display of food in value chains and dining environments, this working group will document best practices around policies, tools, building legal capacities and support innovations and networks.
  • Strengthening Food demand is looking to improve the product experience of healthier and more sustainable food and improve consumers’ motivation and capability.
  • Reducing Food waste occurring at household, food service and retail level is a priority, and can be achieved by providing targeted support to countries, cities and companies in measuring, reducing and revalorizing food waste, and shifting consumer food waste norms and facilitating circular, productive uses of commonly wasted foods.


Action Track 3 – Boost Nature-Positive Production

Action Track 3 works to optimize environmental resource use in and impact from food production, processing and distribution, thereby reducing biodiversity loss, pollution, water use, soil degradation and greenhouse gas emissions. In its pursuit of this goal, the Action Track aims to deepen understanding of the constraints and opportunities facing smallholder farmers and small-scale enterprises along the food value chain. It also strives to support food system governance that realigns incentives to reduce food losses and other negative environmental impacts.

Three Areas of Collective Action & Innovation (ACAI) were identified:

  • Protect natural ecosystems against new conversions for food and feed production. The objective is to move towards deforestation-free, conversion-free and overfishing-free production and trade systems by repurposing agri-food supports (such as ag subsidies) so they generate co-benefits for people and nature, including social safeguards and secure the rights of the most vulnerable (especially indigenous peoples, local communities and rural women). A key will be to get systems actors, and especially decision-makers, to recognize (and value) that natural ecosystem services and biodiversity underpin nature-positive food production.
  • Manage sustainably existing food production systems to the benefit of both nature and people requires context-specific solutions ranging from digital farming to traditional indigenous knowledge, that increase input efficiencies; minimize externalities; improve yields while maximizing biodiversity and ecosystem functions, improving livelihoods and enhancing resilience to climate change.
  • Restore and rehabilitate degraded ecosystems and soil function for sustainable food production. Restoration of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems can create jobs while enhancing biodiversity and building ecological resilience, but this calls for greater support to restorative innovations and more enabling policy, social, technical and financial environments.


Action Track 4 – Advance Equitable Livelihoods

Action Track 4 works to contribute to the elimination of poverty by promoting full and productive employment and decent work for all actors along the food value chain, reducing risks for the world’s poorest, enabling entrepreneurship and addressing the inequitable access to resources and distribution of value.

Action Track 4 looks to improve resilience through social protection and seek to ensure that food systems “leave no one behind�?, with a focus on three areas:

  • Strengthening Agency: Supporting the empowerment of family farmers, small-scale farmers and livestock keepers, indigenous peoples, labourers (including seasonal and landless labourers), migrant informal workers, as well as informal markets workers, women and other marginalized peoples in food systems to build the awareness, confidence, aspirations, skills, capabilities to access dignified jobs and wages; security of land tenure of land; productive and natural resources and services, and to redress unacceptable income inequality and poverty.
  • Inclusive Policies: Transform structures to support inclusive, rights-based global, national sub-national and local norms and laws, customs, values and practices to end discrimination and promote fairness and justice within food systems.
  • Multi-dimensional Welfare and Access: Change relationships of power in ways that ensure a fair share of resources (land, inputs, water, advisory services, etc.), finance, capital, markets, technology and prices.


Action Track 5 – Build Resilience to Vulnerabilities, Shocks, and Stress

 The ambition behind Action Track 5 is to ensure that all people within a food system are empowered to prepare for, withstand, and recover from instability and everywhere participate in food systems that, despite shocks and stressors, deliver food security, nutrition and equitable livelihoods for all. Efforts are focusing on developing game changing solutions to ensure that food systems – which are affected by conflict, and environmental, health and economic shocks and stresses – can maintain functionality, recover from adverse effects, and improve to a better off state, focusing on three areas:

  • Economic resilience to be equitable and inclusive. This working group will focus on enhancing local food systems, encouraging citizen-driven, micro-, small-, and medium sized enterprise (MSME) initiatives, exploring blended finance facilities, public-private partnerships, targeting investments made by public and private sectors towards all levels of food systems and creating safety nets, mechanisms and shock-responsive social protection systems to food system stakeholders, particularly farmers to build resilience. Price information systems, credit and insurance markets and building effective financial institutions will also be addressed.
  • Social resilience to ensure there are broad-based benefits for all people. This working group will look at prevailing inequalities – structural, gender, social in access and utilization of resources, knowledge, assets, technology, markets in event of conflict. In addition, empowering indigenous communities and strengthening coordination of international and local actors will be addressed.
  • Environmental resilience to generate positive and regenerative impacts on the natural environment. This working group will focus on scaling action to address impacts of biodiversity loss, climate change on food systems and look into ensuring healthy soil, water ecosystems; reducing GHG in agricultural practices; addressing agro-ecology and new agricultural practices, food waste; protecting landscapes through regeneration; and identifying harmful agricultural practices like use of pesticides, excessive irrigation that threaten sustainable food systems. It will also ensure that climate adaptation is considered as an important part of conflict-prevention strategies given the nexus between weather shocks, market collapse and conflict outbreaks.