SDC Food Systems Dialogues

SDC Food Systems Dialogues 2021 - Results

version française | versión en español


Executive Summary (3 pages + 12 visions)

Other resources from the dialogues

The independent Food Systems Dialogues organised by the SDC took place between 27 April and 8 June 2021 as a preparatory activity for the United Nations Food Systems Summit. A total of 290 people from 69 countries around the world took part in the dialogues in English, French and Spanish. The participants were an extremely diverse group from a variety of backgrounds. They were divided into 12 discussion groups, with each reflecting on a different vision around food systems and submitting ideas to take action and reach the vision in light of the 2030 agenda. The visions and recommendations will serve as important guidance for SDC’s activities in its commitment to sustainable food systems.


The year 2021 is the biggest year in decades for agriculture and food security. In this year, UN Secretary-General António Guterres convenes the United Nations Food Systems Summit (FSS) as part of the Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

So far, efforts to encourage rapid and joint actions that transform food systems have been hampered by deep disagreements among different stakeholders. That's why the secretariat of the Food Systems Summit has set up standardized Food Systems Dialogues as a preparation activity for the summit.  These multi-stakeholder dialogues aim to increase participation and contribute to a common understanding of priorities.

In Switzerland, the Federal Office for Agriculture organised the national food systems dialogues (summary in German). On the other hand, SDC is involved in a broad range of activities in food systems in developing and transition countries as well as in emerging economies, and it is in an unique position to mobilize a broad range of potential dialogue participants from all its partner countries and organizations. This is why SDC decided to host a series of independent food systems dialogues via its Agriculture and Food Security (A&FS) Network.

About the Dialogues

From April 27th to June 8th 2021, the independent Food System Dialogues organised by SDC took place. A total of 290 participants from 69 countries around the world participated and jointly reflected on 12 visions around food systems in two dialogues in English, two in French and two in Spanish, and together also submitted ideas to take action and reach that vision in light of the 2030 agenda. While the languages provided an opportunity to enable discussions, the communications of the results (e.g. summary notes and inputs) have been cross-shared amongst participants across all three languages. 

Each dialogue (in English, French and Spanish) took place in 2 rounds, round one was focused on engaging participants topically, while round 2 focused on defining pathways for action. 

The events took 2.5h and included thematic inputs and discussions in break-out groups. In these break-out groups participants discussed visions, how food systems will function in 2030. These visions representing ambitious projections of the future were to provoke participants to think beyond the current situation and to imagine something that is altogether better.

Key Findings

Emerging findings across the different language dialogues and visions can be condensed in three core needs:  

  1. the need for the international community to create inclusive, facilitated dialogue platforms (digital and in-person);
  2. the need to reduce the gap between consumers and farmers, and change behaviour through awareness-raising campaigns, and  
  3. the need to develop enabling policies and environment to deliver progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

For more details read the executive summary.

Who participated?

The dialogues brought together many participants from around the world, as follows:

  • In English (27 April and 18 May): 115 participants, from 40 countries
  • In French (4 May and 1 June):  88 participants, from 17 countries
  • In Spanish (11 May and 8 June): 87 participants, from 14 countries

The invited participants all work in the context of Swiss development interventions and were supposed to communicate complex issues concisely. Especially the following target groups were encouraged to participate:

  • representatives of country programs including: decision-makers from local and national governments, consumer organizations, small and large-scale food producers and processors, business, researchers, civil society groups;
  • SDC partner organisations (including NGOs, research & international organisations);
  • other multi- and bilateral donors;
  • SDC staff.

Members of SDC's cross-institutional thematic networks played an important role in the SDC Food Systems dialogues and in shaping a meaningful multi-stakeholder process, as they acted as liaison persons involving other people from their programmes, and also as facilitators, note-takes or participants in the breakout groups. The organizers from the SDC Global Programme Food Security and the A&FS Network ensured a balance among this broad range of stakeholders.

Resources from the dialogues