FAO Partners GAIN, Hopkins Alliance to Launch Online Food Systems Dashboard

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on Monday launched an online tool that will prompt easier decision making processes toward food systems amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Food Systems Dashboard was launched in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and the Johns Hopkins Alliance for a Healthier World.

According to the FAO, in a press statement, the tool is a holistic resource that would enable countries understand their food systems, identify their levers of change, and decide which ones to pull.

The Dashboard houses food systems of more than 230 countries and territories by bringing together data for over 170 indicators from 35 sources.

Food systems encompass an entire range of actors – including, but not limited to, farmers, traders, processors, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, and consumers – and the processes that get food from the fields to markets to tables.

The tool will enable stakeholders to compare their food systems with those of other countries and provide guidance on potential priority actions to improve food systems’ impacts on diets and nutrition.

It is expected to fast-track timely visualisation of national food systems, and help policymakers, businesses and prominent stakeholders to understand the interconnections across multiple sectors, perform comparisons with other countries, identify key challenges, and prioritise actions.

The FAO as one of the collaborators says it is looking to eliminate the threat posed by the pandemic as well as foster opportunities presented by the scourge to help actors in the food chain make needed transformation across boards.

Speaking in the release, Director General of the food agency, Qu Dongyu said, “FAO is contributing its extensive expertise in making complex food systems information more transparent and accessible to this project and looks forward to further collaboration with our partners and beyond to secure the success of this initiative

“The Dashboard is open to all and will foster much-needed cooperation in transforming our food systems. With the threats and opportunities presented by COVID-19, we need more collaboration between stakeholders who care about hunger, nutrition, livelihoods, climate, biodiversity, and sustainable natural resource use.

“Working together and sharing information is also essential in order to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, which are now just 10 years away,” he added.

With a bespoke data diagnosis, well-functioning food systems can ensure the availability, accessibility, and affordability of nutritious foods for healthy diets.

Director of Johns Hopkins Global Food Ethics and Policy Programme, Jessica Fanzo explained: “What struck us back in 2017 while working on the UN High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Systems and Nutrition Report was the lack of accessible, organised, quality-checked information on food systems.

“Without that data, it’s difficult to identify the best evidence-based actions that could improve food systems

“It was really important to us, given the level of complexity and interconnections inherent to food systems, that the data be presented in a way that is easily usable – and that’s what the Dashboard does. Now decision-makers have easy access to both data and to policy advice that is specific to their situations,” she said.

GAIN’s Executive Director and World Food Prize winner, Lawrence Haddad also emphasised that with the tool, data can be compared across countries by region, food systems type, or income classification to inform public health policies to promote increased intake of these foods.

“The Dashboard has the potential to halve the time required to gather the relevant data, helping public agencies and private entities to grasp the three Ds more rapidly: Describe national food systems, Diagnose them to prioritise areas for action, and then Decide on the action to take based on plausible interventions that have been tried in other countries,” he noted.



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