Virtual portal creates access to food security solutions
By Sara Levin Stevenson
Meeting the nutritional needs of current and future generations requires innovations to ensure access to healthy and nutritious food while creating equitable value chains and supporting climate and environmental sustainability.
To this end, Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability collaborated with a group of partner organizations to design the Innovative Food System Solution (IFSS) portal launched by NutritionConnect.org in May 2021.
“There is no silver bullet that will help us address global food challenges. We know that systemic challenges to the agri-food supply chains are complex. With a long-term view, tools that empower bottom-up approaches invite a rich exchange of ideas from stakeholders, researchers, and practitioners,” says Chris Barrett, the Stephen B. and Janice G. Ashley Professor of Applied Economics and Management (Dyson) and Cornell Atkinson Fellow. “I look forward to seeing the number of innovative solutions grow and those already in the portal diffuse and adapt broadly.”
The IFSS portal provides a space where contributors can describe, connect, and collaborate around innovative solutions for food systems challenges. The portal builds on the momentum leading up to the UN Food System Summit and related global initiatives in 2021.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has been a massive (negative) shock to food systems," says Saul Morris, Director of Program Services at GAIN. "We need a positive shock at least ten times larger to get the Sustainable Development Goal 2 ("Zero Hunger") on track and safeguard our planet. The IFSS portal will help us get these transformative processes started before it is too late."
The portal will launch with over 100 innovative solutions sourced from multiple initiatives and invites people to contribute to other solutions and add more information. The portal resources target the equitable improvement of nutrition while also restoring and protecting the environment. Solutions span the whole food supply chain and include policies, technologies, nature-based solutions, public/private collaborations, financial solutions, capacity building, and social equity approaches.
"This initiative is democratizing access to information about game-changing innovative solutions at a critical time. The [IFSS] portal serves as a rich source of inspiration as well as a catalyst to connect people across the food system to engage with each other to move toward action to solve pressing problems together," says Fabrice DeClerck, a Senior Scientist in the Multifunctional Landscapes group at the Alliance of Biodiversity International and CIAT and also the Science Director for the EAT Foundation.
The rich criteria filters and searchable content built into the portal platform help contextualize information, allowing individuals and teams to evaluate "good fit" solutions and solution bundles to meet priorities in specific contexts worldwide. The portal also serves to help connect people working with solutions to funding sources and opportunities.
The portal is a valuable resource for entrepreneurs, food producers, researchers, policymakers, businesses, students, NGOs, investors, and others. It provides a space to share and explore food system solutions, find funding, identify high-potential investments, learn about upcoming events and opportunities, and discover resources that move innovative solutions towards actual implementation for a positive contribution to dietary and planetary health.
"Cornell students, staff and faculty, including the community coordinated through the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability, routinely contribute valuable ideas and evidence to help advance impactful innovations to achieve healthy, equitable, resilient, sustainable food systems. This new online tool is one mechanism to help connect Cornellians to broader, global communities for shared learning and action."
Partners include the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the Alliance of Bioversity-CIAT, EAT, and CSIRO's Food Systems and Global Change group.