Credits World Bank Fresh pineapples at Bomart Farms
Published on October 12, 2023

Transforming Global Food Systems

Our current unsustainable food systems are both among the main drivers and the result of the many interconnected crises facing the world today. While up to 828 million people were affected by hunger in 2021, they contribute up to 80 per cent of biodiversity loss use up to 70 per cent of freshwater, and account for a staggering US$12 trillion in hidden social, economic, and environmental costs. At the same time, economic, climate and political shocks cause stress to agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and aquaculture systems thereby hindering efforts for people to realize their right to food and access the nutrition they need while one-third of all food produced continues to be lost or wasted. With projections indicating that by 2030, 575 million people will still live in extreme poverty (the greatest share in rural areas) and nearly 670 million people will still suffer hunger, the situation is unlikely to improve in the foreseeable future. Food systems must urgently transform to adapt in multiple ways to continuing shocks in multiple settings.

The transformation of food systems entails profound shifts but also an enormous potential to generate multiplier effects, acting as catalysts for broader transformation across multiple systems and SDGs. By reimagining and redesigning our food systems, we can address pressing challenges and unlock opportunities for progress in other areas. The Fund aims to support countries to steer national transitions towards sustainable, resilient, inclusive and healthy food systems, building on and maintaining the Food Systems Summit momentum throughout the Decade of Action on the Global Goals.

By sustaining high-level political momentum to transform food systems for the SDGs, consolidating national food system governance mechanisms (policies, institutions, and coordination structures), closing the implementation gap, reshaping the national food finance architecture, and harnessing knowledge, lessons and communication on progress to accelerate engagement, the Fund’s thematic approach to food systems will drive transitions towards food systems that deliver for people, the planet, and our common prosperity.

The Fund offers an opportunity to forge new partnerships across the public and private sectors. Now more than ever, we need businesses on board to achieve lasting change in our food systems. They can help us develop the smart innovations and solutions required to build resilience and reduce hunger. We will never succeed without their investment and expertise.

- Cindy McCain, Executive Director of WFP



In Timor-Leste, the UN Resident Coordinator supported Government decision-making to allocate US$80 million of government budgets to “Cesta Básica” (food basket programme) in continuation of a previous pilot. The programme offers essential food items worth up to US$50 for key family needs while stimulating agricultural output as 75 per cent of the products in the basket are locally produced. The Joint SDG Fund support also enabled the completion of the country’s first food systems assessment and integrated food security phase classification (IPC), which will help the Government design policy measures to implement the national roadmap to sustainable food systems. Based on the evidence and recommendations from the assessments, the government has committed to reviewing and updating the existing national food policies and strategies, to develop legal instruments such as a food act or food standards, to ensure sufficient allocation of resources and fundamental infrastructures for food control, to develop an integrated plan to implement a food control system at the national level, as well as to design a comprehensive education programme for all food safety stakeholders.

Accessing and mobilizing funds continues to be a persistent challenge for many countries and stakeholders engaged in food systems transformation. Securing adequate financial resources is vital for implementing transformative actions, supporting innovation, and scaling up initiatives that can drive sustainable changes within food systems. With the work on SDG Financing resourced by the Joint Fund, seventeen programmes focused on developing financing strategies and solutions for increased food and agriculture investment. They aimed to repurpose finance to support more resilient food systems, reduce financial flows that are degrading food systems, optimize finance to mobilize investment and increase access to food, and scale up public and private finance flowing to better food and healthy diets.


In Suriname, the UN Resident Coordinator, with the leadership of FAO, UNIDO, ILO and UNFPA, is setting up the Pineapple Innovation Hub, to unlock financing for transforming pineapple cultivation into an organic, sustainable and competitive value-chain, drawing on indigenous knowledge. The Pineapple Innovation Hub attracts and de-risks SDG-compliant investments into the value chain through the provision of collateral capital while providing training on cultivation methods that boost productivity and increase the income of smallholder farmers. The UN secured a partnership with the Islamic Development Bank to attract additional responsible investments across the pineapple value chain. By 2026, at least US$10 million a year in revenue is expected from increased fruit and pineapple products with 1,000 new jobs for rural communities. The project prioritises embedding know-how and capacity into Suriname’s farmers focusing on managing soil quality. Building on the in-depth analysis provided by the UN, this capacity strengthening will enable stronger environmental protection and climate change action across the supply chain.


Ecuador applied an Integrated National Financing Framework methodology to its Child Chronic Malnutrition (CCM) reduction policy. The Resident Coordinator and UNCT supported the formulation of tools, methodologies and mechanisms institutionalized by the government, including a methodology to estimate financing gaps for its CCM reduction policy, a guide to increase efficiency in the delivery of the prioritized package of goods and services to implement its CCM reduction strategy, and tools to mobilize and align both public and private resources to finance the CCM reduction strategy, at the national and local level. Food systems continue to generate pollution while emitting more than one-third of greenhouse gases.6 Investing in improved and more sustainable food systems is inextricably linked to taking action to combat climate change and pollution.



The Joint SDG Fund's joint programmes are under the prestige leadership of the Resident Coordinator Office and implementing United Nations Agencies. With sincere appreciation for the contributions from the European Union and Governments of Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and our private sector funding partners, for a transformative movement towards achieving the SDGs by 2030.