GAIN Working Paper Series 15 - Project DISRUPT - Game-changing innovations for healthy diets on a healthy planet

The global food system is a major driver of environmental degradation, ill health, premature mortality and inequity. To enable resilient, affordable, safe and nutritious diets for the current and growing global population while restoring and safeguarding our environment, we need to urgently innovate food system solutions that work for both people and planet.

GAIN, the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT (International Center for Tropical Agriculture), and EAT joined forces to conduct a three-stage Delphi study as part of ‘Project Disrupt’, from March through to June of 2020. Our objective was to surface and assess promising innovations that support both dietary and planetary from a diverse group of experts.

The Delphi study asked, "Which innovations can be game-changers in making affordable, safe and nutritious foods available in an environmentally sustainable way by 2030?" We focused on the distinct challenges and opportunities of three geographical and food system settings: semiarid rural Ethiopia, tropical/coastal environments in Mozambique and urban Bangladesh. This paper discusses results and insights from this process, highlights selected focus innovations and projects pathways to achieve impact by 2030.

A Delphi methodology was applied to elicit expert opinions and use a consensus-based approach to identify game changing innovations. Data were gathered using online tools and virtual discussion sessions during the early months of the COVID19 global pandemic from a diverse panel of 52 experts. A subset of innovations spanning the food supply chain were selected and further prioritised based on expert scoring criteria - including dietary health, environmental restoration, equity and leapfrogging potential. Initial pathways to impact were developed to outline key steps and to imagine possibilities, spillovers, barriers, trade-offs and related solutions.

Our findings reinforce that no single innovation will fix the food system but that ‘game-changing’ is really about businesses, governments and civil society to join forces and invest in portfolios of innovations to reach the scale necessary to truly transform our food systems – for better nutrition, better planetary health, and greater equity by 2030.