From the ground up


Zibran Choudhury


Last week, The Philea hosted their first Annual Conference, and Alliance asked its readers what session they would like to hear about most in a poll. The winner was ‘From healthy environment to healthy planet Building strategic alliances on food systems’ – take a look at our conference report below.

Central to this session (and throughout the 2022 forum) was the need for integrated approaches to addressing global challenges. Mathilde Douillet of Fondation Daniel et Nina Carasso, explained, there may be many reasons you would be interested in food systems: The climate emergency, obesity epidemics, policy, disaster risk reduction and the shrinking democratic space. When this session was voted for by our readers, I assumed it was because food systems was a truly global issue and would have relevancy wherever you’re reading Alliance. However, it was also made clear that this global issue would need to involve local action.

‘The solutions need to stem from the ground up and come from local communities.’

So, what was the starting point to addressing the various dimensions of sustainability and its interdependence. Sebastian Villasante of University of Santiago de Compostela pinpointed short- and long-term research needs for philanthropic support. In the short term, philanthropy could help develop tools to help document impact and response, share case experiences, and improve data sharing. Longer term, Sebastian added the need to seek commitment throughout the shift to healthy diets, move from quantity to diversity and establishing strong and coordinated governance.

Matteo Barbato of Fodnazione Cariplo explained the need to take stock of the current philanthropic engagement on agroecology in Europe. Adding that the European Foundation for Sustainable Food and Farming is aiming to provide a learning space for funders interested in agroecology. This space would help with connecting the dots of initiatives and networks across Europe, strengthen partnerships among funders and enhance key relations with key actors in the field.

The theme of collective action was echoed by Marie-Chrsitine Cornier Salem of Agropolis Foundation who provided an insight into the ‘Co-construction of knowledge for an ecological and inclusive transition’, a multi actor effort to pool collective strategies and drive resources exchange between livestock farmers and in the minervois. The overall aim is to ensure the transition of both, and promote the mobility of animals. This was a participatory process that involved various partners in co-design, cross-assessment and discussion. A unique model highlighting agroecological transformation and scaling up.

‘According to the FAO statistics from the Sofia report last year in 2021 more than 70% of the ocean has been overfished these are the challenges that we need to really carefully consider when we’re talking about food systems…’

In addition to addressing these challenges collectively, this session made clear that funders shouldn’t be limited to one issue, to look at the connections between these issues, the intentions and the misalignments. Bettina Iseli of Welthungerhilfe stated that our food systems are broken and questioned if we were in a perfect storm. It’s overwhelming, but these few examples were all geared around the concrete steps funders could take, and how they could be in the unique position to drive this shift and transformative change – a fundamental reorganisation across technology, the economy and societies.

In the closing plenary of Philea Forum 2022, Dr Soumya Swaminathan of the World Health Organisation identified six major shifts needed to ‘reposition health as part of the national development agenda’, which included Sustainable food systems. It was the most popular topic for our readers in our pre-conference poll, but there’s too much at stake for funders to choose a favourite from this list.

Zibran Choudhury is Communications, Partnerships & Membership Manager at Alliance magazine

Tagged in: Philea 2022

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