4SD supports the Food Systems Summit preparation process

In 2019, the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) called for a Food Systems Summit, underpinned by an inclusive engagement process to unleash the power of food to deliver progress on all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In preparing for the Summit a diverse range of stakeholders — from youth activists to indigenous leaders, from smallholder farmers to scientists and CEOs – are invited to identify the most powerful ways to make food systems stronger and more equitable.

To assist with the preparation of the Food Systems Summit, we are very pleased to announce that 4SD will support the opportunity for people, of every country, to engage with preparations for the Summit through “Food Systems Summit Dialogues”.

In collaboration with the Special Envoy and the Secretariat for the Food Systems Summit , we have prepared a standardized approach to the convening, curation and facilitation of Food Systems Summit Dialogues.


At 4SD, we recognise that there are multiple ways in which powerful and thought-provoking dialogues can be conducted. People within different communities have found many of their own ways, through dialogue, to deepen their appreciation of each other’s perspectives, to make new connections, to resolve difficult choices and to seek agreement where possible. Based on this recognition and our dedication to systems leadership to address complex issues, we are proud to have been working with the Food Systems Dialogues initiative since 2018.

These Food Systems Dialogues were established as an initiative of  five partners – EAT, Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU), the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), World Economic Forum (WEF) and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). Over 40 dialogueshave been convened, in 23 countries, across 6 continents, engaging over 2200 food systems practitioners. The dialogues have allowed us to learn how people with different backgrounds and perspectives can interact with a systems perspective.

These classic versions of dialogues about food systems are a foundation and source of inspiration for the Food Systems Summit Dialogues. Our experience in working with this initiative has helped us identify the  skills required for convening, curating and facilitating discussions, and to develop a useful dialogue format that can lead to  valuable and constructive outcomes. We have also built a strong understanding of the logistics and operational requirements of holding events in multiple circumstances.

The Food Systems Summit Dialogues Approach

The standardized approach we have developed for Food Systems Summit is based on our experience with the classic initiative. The Summit Dialogues reflect the Summit’s principles of engagement and encourage all involved to consider the Food Systems Summit as a major milestone and a call to action to:

  • Listen to each other;
  • Welcome diverse perspectives;
  • Seek out new connections;
  • Explore both synergy and divergence;
  • Work together to identify promising options;
  • Debate their potential impact; and,
  • Over time, shape pathways and commitments for action towards food systems that will be equitable and sustainable by 2030.

The involvement of different stakeholder groups in the Food Systems Summit Dialogues is critical because our food systems touch every aspect of human existence. The health of our food systems profoundly affects the health of our bodies, as well as the health of our environment, our economies and our cultures.

Dialogues will be convened at three levels: Global Summit Dialogues will be convened alongside key global events, Member State Dialogues will be convened by national authorities, and Independent Dialogues will be led by self-appointed Convenors who can be individuals or organizations independent of national authorities who want to formally connect with the Summit through this process. Each Dialogue will be carefully curated and facilitated to encourage exploration, alignment and joint action.

The Food Systems Summit Dialogues are an exceptional opportunity for all people to contribute to shaping the pathways that will lead to sustainable food systems everywhere and indicate how they will contribute to making this vision a reality for all.

A website dedicated to the Food Systems Summit Dialogues launched on World Food Day, 16 October 2020. Visit summitdialogues.org.

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For more information about the Summit, visit https://www.un.org/en/food-systems-summit

For more information about the classic Food Systems Dialogue initiative, visit https://foodsystemsdialogues.org/