Today, the countries and populations of the Mediterranean are facing unprecedented and interdependent challenges, due to the knock-on effects of conflicts, climatic emergencies and demographic pressures. As a result of changing eating habits, countries are also increasingly affected by problems of obesity and diet-related non-transmissible diseases. At the same time, climate change is affecting the Mediterranean region much more than the rest of the world on average, leading to competing demands for land, water and energy sources, in a region already deeply shaken by the decline in natural resources.
In the face of growing challenges and given the strong interdependence between Mediterranean countries, as well as the specific features of each context, a systemic response is required to achieve the many benefits of directing agri-food systems towards greater environmental, economic and social sustainability. The involvement of Mediterranean countries in the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) process, and more recently in the 2-year review of the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS+2), has played a central role in highlighting the need for enhanced regional cooperation and identifying joint strategies to tackle common issues related to agri-food systems.
THE SFS-MED PLATFORM
In this context, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM), the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA) have joined forces to create a multi-stakeholder initiative for sustainable food systems in the Mediterranean (SFS-MED platform), which takes the form of a project affiliated to the Sustainable Food Systems Programme of the One Planet Network.
This forum fosters dialogue and collaboration and aims to leverage collaboration between countries and between stakeholders to ensure the sustainable transformation of agri-food systems in the Mediterranean. The main focus of this initiative is on promoting shared learning on the main levers for transforming agri-food systems, as well as dialogue and the exchange of technical knowledge between stakeholder groups, including the private sector, civil society, the research community and public authorities.
FOCUS ON THE LEVERS FOR TRANSFORMING AGRI-FOOD SYSTEMS
The SFS-MED Platform is now making available to everyone an interactive tool that compiles specialist knowledge on various levers for transforming agri-food systems, while recounting inspiring stories from the field about people working to transform the agri-food systems of the region through multi-stakeholder collaboration and innovative ideas.
These transformation levers reflect the trends, priorities and challenges that have emerged as common to most Mediterranean countries, as illustrated by the study carried out by the SFS-MED Platform in 2021 as part of the UNFSS process. These key themes then inspired a series of technical webinars launched in 2022, which collected much of the information presented in this tool.