Happy holidays: Celebrating a year of progress

As 2023 comes to a close, we pause to reflect on our collective achievements, cherished partnerships, and shared commitment to transforming food systems for a sustainable future.

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As we draw another active year to a close, we reflect on the remarkable journey we've shared in 2023. Our collective commitment to fostering more sustainable, equitable, and resilient food systems has yielded significant achievements, all made possible through our enduring partnerships:

  1. UN Food Systems Summit +2 Stocktaking Moment (UNFSS+2): In July, we successfully organized the UNFSS+2, uniting the global community to address the pressing challenges facing our food systems. Convened by the UN Secretary-General and hosted by Italy at FAO Headquarters in Rome, this historic event brought together over 3,300 attendees, including 182 Member States, 21 Heads of State and Government, 225 non-state actor organizations, and nearly 900 participants from the UN and other international organizations. Together, we engaged in constructive dialogues, sparked innovative ideas, and laid the foundation for transformative change. The event culminated in a powerful Call to Action from the UN Secretary-General, guiding us towards urgent action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
  2. Working with countries: Throughout the year, we've worked closely with countries to bolster the implementation of their national food systems transformation pathways. Our collaborative efforts included over 60 bilateral meetings with National Convenors, drawing the insights from 106 National Voluntary Progress Reports, the facilitation of 5 face-to-face regional preparatory meetings, and the organization of 9 solutions dialogues and 3 sets of regional touchpoints. As of July 2023, 155 countries have designated National Convenors, with 126 countries now owning national pathways. Generous donor support allowed us to provide catalytic funds, supporting governments and food systems actors in 14 countries, to accelerate their food systems transformation based on their national priorities, strategically leveraging the convening role of Resident Coordinators and unifying the UN Country Teams to work cohesively on food systems agendas. These collective endeavors have generated invaluable insights and recommendations, supporting inclusive, impactful, and context-specific solutions.
  3. Financing food systems transformation: Still in support to country efforts, we have cultivated robust partnerships to address crucial financing challenges. Collaborating with the Joint SDG Fund Secretariat, we established a thematic window for Integrated Programming on Food Systems Transformation, which garnered support from multiple donors. Additionally, IFAD and the World Bank as co-leads of the financing agenda for food systems transformation, in collaboration with the Hub, pioneered a real-time financial data tool to aid governments in investment decisions. This tool offers evidence on domestic financing, informing national budgets and negotiations with development partners. Together with OECD and the Ecosystem of Support, IFAD and the World Bank also produced the inaugural dataset on bilateral and multilateral development financing for food systems, serving as a baseline to measure progress in increasing development funding for transformative efforts in the most vulnerable countries.
  4. Food systems and climate action: Following a year of strategic partnership with the COP28 Presidency, we were pleased to witness food systems taking center stage at COP28 in Dubai. The Food Systems and Agriculture Agenda, launched during UNFSS+2 in Rome, prioritizes key food systems objectives, including aligning national pathways and agricultural policies with Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) by 2025. Furthermore, the Hub's new Convergence Initiative gained recognition as a critical enabler in transforming food systems in alignment with climate action, alongside supporting the implementation of the COP28 UAE Declaration, endorsed by 159 countries.
  5. Engaging the Ecosystem of Support: Our strengthened partnerships with governments, stakeholders, the scientific community, civil society organizations, the private sector, and academia have enabled us to pool resources, expertise, and ideas to drive food systems transformation. We are delighted to have collaborated closely with our Stakeholder Engagement and Networking Advisory (SENA) Group to ensure an inclusive process in preparation for UNFSS+2, resulting in a comprehensive Stakeholders' Contribution Document. Furthermore, we launched a new leadership program for early career professionals, engaging youth to accelerate food systems solutions in the Global South.
  6. Strengthening synergies with key intergovernmental fora: The UNFSS+2 played a pivotal role in galvanizing global efforts toward food systems transformation and the 2030 Agenda. The outcomes of UNFSS+2 reverberated at the SDG Summit 2023 and the SDG Action Weekend, where Member States in the Political Declaration committed to expediting sustainable and resilient agriculture and food systems in support of all 17 SDGs. The Second Committee of the UN General Assembly, during its seventy-eighth session, also adopted multiple resolutions reaffirming the significance of the UNFSS process and anticipating the forthcoming UNFSS+4 Stocktaking in 2025. These concerted efforts highlight the collaborative spirit that underpins our shared vision of transforming food systems for a sustainable future.

Looking Ahead to 2024

As we approach the new year, we acknowledge that our journey is far from over, and the challenges of climate change, food insecurity, nutrition, resilience and inequalities persist. However, the progress made in 2023 is a testament to the power of collaboration and determination. Together, we will continue to champion sustainable food systems that nourish both people and the planet.

As we welcome 2024, let us carry forward the momentum and unity that have brought us this far. Season’s greetings and best wishes from our entire team.