Food systems are a foundation of human and planetary well-being and central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Yet they also contribute to ill health, inequity, environmental degradation, and greenhouse gas emissions. These challenges demand urgent food systems transformation. Such a transformation requires understanding the status of food systems across their diverse functions.
The Food Systems Countdown Initiative aims to enable this understanding by monitoring the state of food systems transformation through relevant data, independent of any established monitoring processes. Such monitoring can help align decision makers around key priorities, incentivise action, hold stakeholders accountable, sustain commitment by demonstrating progress, and enable course corrections.
The Countdown publications present the results of the initiative’s baseline analysis of 50 indicators – showing many shared challenges but also areas of strength.
The Food Systems Countdown Policy Report 2023
The State of Food Systems Worldwide in the Countdown to 2030
What is the The Food Systems Countdown Initiative (FSCI)?
The FSCI is a collaborative effort to monitor global food systems. It brings together indicators that span food systems and provides annual analysis to inform policy, business, and NGO priorities and actions. It supports the transformation of food systems, so they become equitable, sustainable, and resilient and positively contribute to achieving the 2030 SDGs and other global goals.
The FSCI is working to build a science-based observational system using a food systems framework to track global food systems and their changes to 2030. Deliberately changing complex systems that cut across sectors, jurisdictions, and national borders calls for a comprehensive, ongoing program of scientific measurement and assessment of all aspects of the system and their interactions to guide decision-makers and hold those in power to account for transformation. Food system actors and stakeholders (e.g., civil society, governments, and international organisations) need actionable evidence to make decisions that can bring about food system transformation yet no such mechanism currently exists. Their research agenda centres around the evidence gaps exposed by moving from siloed, disciplinary analyses of agriculture, nutrition, health, and the environment to a comprehensive understanding of food systems.
The Food Systems Countdown Initiative is led by Jessica Fanzo of Columbia University, Lawrence Haddad of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Jose Rosero Moncayo of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), and Mario Herrero of Cornell University. Kate Schneider leads the data team and coordination together with several Johns Hopkins graduate students. The Initiative involves dozens of collaborators from nearly as many organisations from almost all continents.