On 8 June 2023, key Dutch food system stakeholders came together with representatives of the Rome Based Agencies and selected European and African delegations to the UN in Rome. They informally discussed the opportunities, challenges and next steps for improving Dutch-Rome Based Agencies cooperation. The key multilateral agencies involved are the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
In the meeting, the potential added value was explored for sustained, regular policy dialogue between the Rome Based Agencies and Dutch food network actors. This includes the option of creating an informal platform that could support the Rome Based Agencies' food and climate policy-making and provide more coordinated support for greater impact on the ground - primarily focusing on African countries.
The online event brought together a diverse group of participants and featured two dynamic roundtable discussions with representatives from Wageningen University & Research, Rabobank, Save the Children, the Hunger Project, DSM, The Young Climate Movement, the UN Youth Representative for Biodiversity and Food for the Netherlands as well as from the Netherlands’ Permanent Representation in Rome and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Main conclusions - Greater impact in the domain of sustainable food systems in Africa could be achieved through:
Stronger trilateral and multilateral collaboration in different domains
Fostering mutual understanding and shared narratives on food system transformation for increased impact
Stronger engagement of non-state actors, including youth, civil society and the private sector, in Rome Based Agencies fora
Strengthening of information sharing and connections between different initiatives.
The discussions provided valuable insights, with participants highlighting the need for trilateral and multilateral cooperation in different domains, the need to nurture shared narratives for food systems transformation and the importance of strong engagement of non-state actors, including youth, civil society and the private sector, in Rome Based Agency forums.
In addition there was a strong emphasis on the importance of improved knowledge sharing and connectivity between initiatives to harness synergies and to avoid duplication of efforts. For example, initiatives implemented by Dutch knowledge institutes or development organisations in collaboration with FAO and other partners in East Africa, may be of relevance to other actors.
Roundtable discussion on proposed outcomes and outputs
During the first roundtable on proposed outcomes and outputs, it became clear that recognising the potential benefits of this coalition for different stakeholders was an essential first step. Without an understanding of the perspectives of various stakeholders and the work they already do, it is difficult to see how joint efforts could unfold. Rather than starting from scratch, the added value lies in connecting the dots. We should not try to fix something that is not broken.
Roundtable discussion on preferred roles of stakeholders
The second roundtable focused on the preferred roles of stakeholders. It was emphasised that RBAs need to collaborate with other stakeholders, including civil society and the private sector, to increase impact on the ground. However, there is currently a lack of coordination. Here, participants saw opportunities in strengthening the science base for food systems transformation - working to improve the narratives and global perspective on why Food System Transformation is so crucial. In doing so, it remains important not to make the scope of the group too large, but to look at where there is clear convergence and added value.
After the initial dialogue on 8 June, a next set of activities was planned for the second semester. An expert roundtable dialogue was planned and organised by ECDPM and NFP on 20 October 2023, in the margin of the World Food Forum (WFF) in Rome. Here, an information exchange was facilitated between the Dutch food network, Rome Based Agencies and selected African and European delegations to strengthen the knowledge base for food system transitions at all levels and jointly identify key policy priorities (the report of the event will follow soon).
Senior Knowledge Broker - Netherlands Food Partnership
Ruth van de Velde