2 Dec 2020

World needs ‘IPCC-style’ scientific body to guide food systems transformation, says leading think tank

An intergovernmental panel could help reset how food systems function in the same way the IPCC has shaped climate action, says the Barilla Foundation Advisory Board.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020, PARMA – A leading think tank has proposed an intergovernmental panel for food systems to help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

The Barilla Foundation Advisory Board made the call as part of three recommendations following Resetting the Food System from Farm to Fork, a flagship conference co-hosted by the Barilla Foundation and Food Tank. The three-hour event brought together more than 30 farmers, academics, policymakers, business leaders and other actors from across the food system.

The event organisers called for a shared global commitment to transform food systems and unlock better global health and nutrition in the pandemic recovery and beyond, as well as climate action and sustainable business models. 

In a message to the event organisers, Giuseppe Conte, Prime Minister of Italy, said: “Food is central to the well-being of society, as it affects the lives of citizens. Food is a key issue, that connects all domains of well-being: food is the environment, food is society, food is economy, food is landscape, food is culture.

“The food supply chain, quality of production and Mediterranean diet are the engines of recovery. Access to adequate nutrition shall not be an exception, it shall be a right for all."

The Barilla Foundation said an international body could replicate the achievements of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which coordinates scientific research on global warming.

Three recommendations were made for the milestone UN Food Systems Summit, which will culminate next year after months of preparatory work in five priority areas.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is the latest example of the increasing pressure and expectations being put on the world’s food system. The food system needs to keep us all fed, but it also must ensure we are well nourished and that it protects the environment, tackles the climate crisis, and ensures people’s livelihoods continue to be met,” said Danielle Nierenberg, President of Food Tank and member of the Barilla Foundation Advisory Board.

“Establishing an intergovernmental body with the mission to provide objective, science-based knowledge and risk assessments on the state of agri-food systems and its relationships with sustainability may have the potential to support the transition and inform policymaking.”

The three recommendations made to the UN Food Systems Summit by the Barilla Foundation Advisory Board included:
1. Aligning around a shared sense of purpose, that can help stakeholders – from national to local – to craft their vision for a healthier, more inclusive, sustainable and resilient food system.
2. Connecting, mobilizing and inviting all actors in the food system on a collective journey that leads to a transformed food system.
3. Raising awareness and empowering citizens, by fuelling a scientifically grounded and action-oriented public discussion that enables them to act as change makers for a true transformation of the food system. 

Almost 10,000 people registered to join the virtual event live to hear from expert speakers including leading chefs Massimo Bottura, Tanya Holland and Dan Barber, representatives from Microsoft and Google’s Alphabet, and officials from four UN agencies. 

“Faced with the urgency of global hunger, health and now the pandemic, we must have the courage to change – agri-food companies, retailers, institutions, chef, citizens – because there is no alternative to sustainability said Guido Barilla, chairman of the Barilla Group and the Barilla Foundation.

“Resetting the food system is one of the most effective ways to improve both human and planetary health, and to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.”

Panel sessions during Resetting the Food System covered the role of food in health and nutrition, the food economy and the importance of farmers on the frontline of global food systems.

Speakers discussed the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on diets and nutrition, and the opportunities for regenerative agriculture to offer nature-positive solutions, which is one of the five priority areas or “action tracks” for the UN Food Systems Summit.

“Food systems touch every aspect of our daily lives and connect us all – families, communities, nations. When food systems fail, health, education, economy, environment, peace, and security are all threatened,” said Gerry Salole, Trustee, Impact Trust and member of the Barilla Foundation Advisory Board.

“Food businesses across the globe must urgently and fundamentally rethink their strategies and operations to align with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. To achieve this, we need engagement with farmers and food suppliers; investment in sustainable agricultural practices that also contribute to equitable livelihoods; and a pivot towards more sustainable food choices. 

“The movement on the road to the 2021 Food Systems Summit has started and everyone has a vital role to play in the build-up to it.”



For more information or for interview requests, please contact:

Anna Pujol-Mazzini | Marchmont Communications | anna@marchmontcomms.com | +33 7 54 37 32 87



Resetting the Food System from Farm to Fork was a global event to promote healthy and sustainable food systems as well as people’s choices, towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Organised under the shared vision of the Barilla Foundation, an independent multi-disciplinary research Center, which contributes to driving the transition towards healthy and sustainable food systems, and Food Tank, the leading US think tank for food, the event provides a platform where highly reputed experts, institutions, academia and youth tackling agri-food issues come together. By sharing an exclusive experience of dialogue and networking, the global community can help reset the food system before 2030. Bringing together governments, private sector, civil society organizations, research and science, the event hosted a series of panels throughout the day to support the sharing of experiences and good practices, from a global to a local perspective.

A recording of the event is available online.

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