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Harvesting change: Harnessing emerging technologies and innovations for agrifood system transformation

Global foresight synthesis report










Alexandrova-Stefanova, N., Nosarzewski, K., Mroczek, Z.K., Audouin, S., Djamen, P., Kolos, N. & Wan, J. 2023. Harvesting change: Harnessing emerging technologies and innovations for agrifood system transformation  Global foresight synthesis report. Rome. FAO and Cirad. 




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    Introducing the Agrifood Systems Technologies and Innovations Outlook
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    Agrifood system transformation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals requires increased attention to developing, adapting and diffusing impactful science, technology and innovation (STI). Current levels and patterns of STI uptake are inadequate to facilitate needed agrifood system transformations, especially in today's low- and middle-income countries. Moreover, the descriptive and evaluative evidence on current and emergent STI is also insufficiently well understood to permit intentional management of STI to meet the multiple objectives of future agrifood systems: efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable. This report introduces the vision, rationale, scope and methods for new knowledge products FAO will launch as part of a new Agrifood System Technologies and Innovations Outlook (ATIO). ATIO's objective is to curate existing information on the current, measurable state of STI and upcoming changes, as well as their transformative potential, to inform evidence-based policy dialogue and decisions, including on investments.
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    Thinking about the future of food safety
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    2022
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    Agrifood systems are undergoing a transformation with the aim to provide safer, more affordable, and healthier diets for all, produced in a sustainable manner while delivering just and equitable livelihoods: a key to achieving the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, this transformation needs to be executed in the global context of major challenges facing the food and agriculture sectors, with drivers such as climate change, population growth, urbanization, and natural resources depletion compounding these challenges.Food safety is a keystone to agrifood systems and all food safety actors need to keep pace with the ongoing transformation while preparing to navigate the potential threats, disruptions, and challenges that may arise. Foresight in food safety facilitates the proactive identification of drivers and related trends, both within and outside agrifood systems, that have implications for food safety and therefore also for consumer health, the national economy, and international trade. Early identification and evaluation of drivers and trends promote strategic planning and preparedness to take advantage of emerging opportunities and address challenges in food safety.In this publication, the FAO Food Safety Foresight programme provides an overview of the major global drivers and trends by describing their implications for food safety in particular and for agrifood systems by extrapolation. The various drivers and trends reported include climate change, changing consumer behaviour and preferences, new food sources and production systems, technological advances, microbiome, circular economy, food fraud, among others. The intended audience for this publication is broad – from the policymakers, academia, food business operators, private sector, to all of us, the consumers.
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    Brochure, flyer, fact-sheet
    Linking agrifood SMEs to innovation for sustainable food systems: the role of multi-stakeholder approaches
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    2023
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    During this webinar, organized by the SFS-MED Platform and held on 13 October 2022, stakeholders from across the Mediterranean shared practical experiences of university-business cooperation, successful cases of innovation adoption and transfer, innovative pathways of capacity development, as well as provocative thoughts from investors and farmers. Panelists and speakers discussed about the needs and challenges that agrifood SMEs and farmers are experiencing in linking with innovation, and investigated possible pathways for transformation, leveraging the added value of multi-stakeholder approaches to promote the uptake of innovation. Moreover, the webinar allowed strengthening collaboration among the different partners and stakeholders shaping the agrifood ecosystem, that are essential to enable SMEs and farmers with solutions, tools and best practices. The discussion was instrumental in demonstrating that linking agrifood SMEs to innovation is key for a sustainable future of the Mediterranean food systems, where SMEs and small-scale producers are empowered as economic actors and agents of change for a blue, green and circular food system transition. There is a need for an interactive innovation ecosystem based on a multi-stakeholder collaboration process that is open and inclusive, where new technologies and organizational processes are co-designed by all food systems actors. To this effect, science diplomacy is a powerful tool to ensure that scientific knowledge is effectively shared and adequately translated to be used by non-scientific stakeholders, leveraging co-creation and win-win solutions through alliances that engage all shores of the Mediterranean on a level-playing field. Moreover, innovative capacity building and training programmes are instrumental in developing the human capital necessary to address skills mismatch between graduates and employment demand from the agri-business sector, enhancing the innovation chain through new professional profiles. Finally, sustainable finance and new financial mechanisms can be unlocked to enhance SME access to affordable innovation and technology. Business incubators and accelerators promote a change of mindset that can lead SMEs to embrace innovation by adopting new business models, matchmaking innovators and co-founders, and inspiring ideas.

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