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Designing innovative and sustainable financing solutions for strengthened national food systems

  |   SUN Civil Society Network, SUN Secretariat, SUN UN Network

The UN FS pre-summit and summit will work to transform global food systems to deliver on all 17 interconnected SDGs. Actors from across the food system are expected to think through their linkages and develop collaborative action around key cross cutting levers of change such as finance, policy, innovation, governance, data, and evidence etc.

It is in this context that Food Systems for the Future, The Eleanor Crook Foundation, Rabobank, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Partnerships for a Healthier America, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the SUN Movement, and the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands organized a ‘UN Food Systems Dialogue: Financing Food Systems & Nutrition Transformation!’ on Friday February 12, 2021.

This virtual event convened several financial institutions, foundations, investors, and entrepreneurs to identify and discuss the barriers to private capital investments in nutrition, as well as explore and develop new solutions for increasing these investments across the food system, including innovative financial products, prioritizing nutrition impact as well as an adequate financial return.

The business opportunity

There is a business opportunity in increasing access to safe, nutritious foods but we need to unlock this business opportunity for smallholders, farmers, and SMEs. This will require scaling up a multi-stakeholder approach to unlock more business investment in nutrition. Blended finance offers the potential for the public sector to attract more private sector investment into the food sector by de-risking investments the food companies in SUN member Countries.

Unlock the business opportunity in nutrition for SMEs

SMEs, along with smallholder farmers, make up the bulk of the actors in the food system in developing and emerging markets. They play a key role as input suppliers, off-takers, processors, and distributors, which furthermore creates jobs and enhances economic growth.

Health systems are doing the most work in developing countries. There are also much sustainable solutions to explore in agri-markets too.  A clear roadmap is needed on food systems building on data (to be improved). A clear collective answer is needed!

William Moore, CEO Eleanor Crook Foundation


It is important to support smallholders, SMEs. Blended finance can play a substantial and it must be connected to these different areas linked to food systems/nutrition: changing the livelihood of rural people (job creation, digitalization).

Alvaro Lario, Associate Vice-President, CFO and Chief Controller IFAD

Digital innovation, partnerships, micro-finance can and should be scaled up. Finance must always come with capacity building and policy improvement. This is how we will have success but the levers of change must be adapted to country specific needs.

Designing sustainable solutions to scale up nutrition financing

Many agendas need to be linked (climate, nutrition, agriculture) while a multi-stakeholder approach will help address the bottlenecks and trigger more investments. To achieve this aim, it is also vital to support farmers and SMEs develop comprehensive business plans. Support must be provided to both public and private sectors for an enabling environment and lowered risks for financiers and/or food producers. This will create a win-win situation putting consumers at the center of this approach.

People first, prosperity will come, and the planet will sustainably benefit. To be efficient we should acknowledge that there are different ecosystems – every country is specific and therefore every opportunity and challenges are different.


Nutrition is left behind while healthy and nutritious food does not have the biggest food print. Food is considered as a commodity and not as an investment for the future (cognitive). The mindset should be changed and let us ensure the SDGs are interlinked through a robust food systems approach and a coherent roadmap. Coordination is important especially at country level. There are already numerous financing opportunities. More should be done in combining finance with technical assistance for smallholders, farmers, SMEs to develop comprehensive business plans.

Gerda Verburg, SUN Movement Coordinator

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