Food systems are complicated combinations of interdependent social, economic, environmental, and political systems. Globally, the food and agribusiness industry represents 35% of all jobs and close to 10% of GDP. However, food and agriculture collectively account for more than 30% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and over 80% of tropical deforestation and biodiversity loss. It is estimated that one third of all food is wasted, yet up to 2.3 billion people face moderate or severe food insecurity, a figure exacerbated by recent crises. At the same time, more than one billion people are obese and diet-related diseases are the leading risk factor for death in most countries in the world. Two-thirds of working adults living in poverty rely on agriculture for their livelihood. Transforming food systems is essential to meeting net-zero, nature positive goals by 2030, providing dignified livelihoods, and delivering improved nutrition and health to 8 billion people.
It is incontrovertible that we need to transform our food systems. Now is the time to focus on the “how.” Our fundamental premise is that, while subnational contexts are important and often diverse, countries at the national level are the locus of transformation. Since the first UN Food Systems Summit in 2021, 117 countries have committed to transform their food systems in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. While this is important progress, so far, few countries have translated those commitments into specific, integrated roadmaps. The pace and scale at which change is happening is simply not enough to meet global goals by 2030.
Led by Vikki Tam, Bain teamed up with the World Economic Forum’s Centre for Nature and Climate platform in 2022 to support a project focused on identifying repeatable models for country-level food systems transformation. Drawing on examples of successful transformations in a handful of diverse countries over a roughly 20-year period, the report offers insights on the actions and investments that – when done concurrently - can accelerate a country’s transition towards better food systems. Among them: government policy and related tools, public private partnerships, technology innovation, financing, enterprise and corporate action, and multi-stakeholder coalitions. Realizing this ambition will require an unprecedented level of collaboration among government leaders, capital providers, companies, entrepreneurs, and NGOs.