Advances in African food systems: Takeaways from the regional progress review


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: The UN Food Systems Coordination Hub, in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), organized two meetings with African National Convenors that focused on sharing experiences and insights on food systems transformation efforts across the region. The meetings took place on the margins of the 10th African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD-10). These events are part of a series of regional meetings with National Convenors as a follow-up to the regional preparatory meeting held in February 2023 and the United Nations Food Systems Summit +2 (UNFSS+2) Stocktaking Moment in July 2023.

Side Event – Food Systems Transformation as an Accelerator for the Agenda 2030 and AU 2063 Agenda Implementation in Africa: Lessons and Insights from the frontline

On April 17, 2024, National Convenors and other stakeholders including government representatives, youth, CSOs, and the private sector engaged in a side event at ARFSD-10 on harnessing food systems transformation to accelerate sustainable development across Africa. Mr. Godfrey Bahiigwa, Director of Agriculture and Rural Development at the African Union, highlighted the role of the UNFSS process in accelerating the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CADDP), and the development of the Africa Common Position Paper on Food Systems Transformation. Mr. David Phiri, Special Adviser to the Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa at FAO, emphasized that food systems transformation is crucial for the 2030 Agenda and the AU Agenda 2063.

In the panel discussion, National Convenors from Kenya and Madagascar shared key updates and actions regarding their national pathway implementation, along with their engagement with farmers and youth. The Ecosystem of Support (EoS), represented by youth, private sector, and the HDP Nexus Coalition, shared experiences in driving food systems transformation in various countries. Ms. Aisha Hadeja from Sahel Partner Consulting focused on creating an early warning system and developing the dairy sector in Nigeria. Ms. Elizabeth Mwende, youth representative of the Hub’s Stakeholder Engagement and Advisory Group (SENA) discussed bottom-up co-creation with youth in Kenya through the National Agricultural Rural Inclusive Growth Project. Ms. Emilie Chazelle of the HDP Nexus Coalition discussed risk mapping of food systems in Somalia.

The key takeaway from the panelists is that employing a bottom-up approach and engaging partners and stakeholders accelerates progress and fosters a collaborative environment conducive to knowledge sharing and mutual learning, driving tangible progress in implementing solutions that transform food systems and yield real results.

Food Systems Transformation Progress Review: Food Systems National Convenors Meeting in Africa

On April 22, 2024, the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub organized a regional meeting with National Convenors as a follow-up to the UNFSS+2 Stocktaking Moment. This meeting facilitated interactions between National Convenors and key players in the EoS on issues and trends of national and global interest in the pursuit of accelerated food systems transformation in Africa. The event provided a focused moment for National Convenors to reflect on progress made and exchange experiences and insights in fostering food systems transformation in their countries.

Africa’s outlook for food systems transformation

Food systems are increasingly acknowledged as key entry points for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa. Many countries are demonstrating political commitment at the highest levels to food systems transformation and adopting inclusive approaches to achieve the SDGs. While there have been challenges, including an increase in undernourishment from 19.4% in 2021 to 19.7% in 2022, particularly in Northern and Southern Africa, there are encouraging signs of improvement.

Since the UNFSS+2, significant progress has been made in advancing food systems transformation across Africa, aligning with initiatives such as CAADP and the Malabo Declaration. Additionally, around 49 African countries have appointed National Convenors, with 42 developing national pathways and 22 finalizing action plans. African countries have requested increased financial and technical resources from the UN system and International Financial Institutions (IFIs) to support food systems transformation efforts. They welcomed and encouraged scaling up the 3FS tool presented by IFAD and the World Bank tool for measuring financial flows in other countries to support their financial planning for operationalizing their national pathways.

Unified strategies for the African continent:

National Convenors and stakeholders emphasized the Africa Common Position on Food Systems, addressing post-Malabo and the 2025 agenda as an important opportunity to focus on food systems transformation beyond agriculture productivity. Participants recognized the significant impact of climate change on food systems in Africa and stressed the urgent need to align national food systems strategies with climate policies for sustainability and to meet the SDGs. They also emphasized the importance of taking a systemic approach beyond food security and taking into consideration the environmental impacts of food systems. Integration and collaboration among governments, the private sector, CSOs, youth, women, farmers, and UN agencies were highlighted as crucial for successful implementation.

The Hub’s Convergence Initiative was welcomed as a vital tool to support African countries in aligning food systems transformation with climate efforts, advancing the SDGs and the objectives of the Paris Agreement. African countries are gearing up for enhanced efforts and coordination leading up to the UNFSS+4 Stocktaking Moment in 2025, building shared visions, strategic partnerships, and innovative approaches to achieving developmental goals. Mr. Stefanos Fotiou, Director of the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub, commended the engagement of African National Convenors in these efforts and recognized Africa as an emerging leader in advancing the food systems transformation agenda.

UN Food Systems Coordination Hub at the ARFSD-10

On April 25, during the ARFSD, parallel sessions explored subthemes of the SDGs ahead of the 2024 High-level Political Forum. These sessions aimed to review progress, identify key messages with policy options, and expedite implementation measures. Mr. Khaled Eltaweel, Senior Coordinator at the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub, provided updates on the outcomes of the UNFSS+2 Stocktaking Moment, emphasizing the six key areas of the Secretary-General's Call to Action for Accelerated Food Systems Transformation. He highlighted the critical need for integration and collaboration across various sectors to ensure successful implementation.

On the final day of the regional forum, the plenary received key insights from both events at the Parallel Meeting of SDG2 Zero Hunger, focusing on the pivotal role of food systems transformation in achieving the SDGs in Africa. These discussions affirmed that African nations are displaying strong political commitment and are actively implementing policies to transform food systems in support of SDG advancement.

Find further information on the ARFSD-10: