The journey of a chocolate bar: how to transform food systems through sustainable value chains and integrated approaches


05 September 2021


Virtual event
IUCN World Conservation Congress


Olivier Besson
GEF Coordinator

The global food system is one of the major underlying drivers of environmental degradation. In the last decade, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has directly invested over USD 525 million and mobilised an additional USD 4.5 billion in co-financing to promote a transformational shift in agricultural land use and food systems. Major GEF initiatives contributing to this goal include three integrated approach programmes: the Resilient Food Systems (RFS) programme, led by IFAD, which is fostering sustainability and resilience for food security in the drylands of sub-Saharan Africa; the Good Growth Partnership (GGP) programme, led by UNDP, which is taking deforestation out of commodity supply chains; and the ambitious and globally-focused Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration (FOLUR) Impact Program, led by the World Bank Group, which brings together governments, companies, civil society, and smallholders to catalyse transformative improvements, particularly in large-scale food production landscapes and commodity value chains, where there is potential to generate significant global environmental benefits.  

To share some of the lessons and knowledge generated from these programmes, the GEF and its partners, the World Bank, CIFOR-ICRAF, WWF and Conservation International, are holding a thematic stream session during this year’s IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille. The session will provide an opportunity for collective learning and knowledge sharing by a diverse range of stakeholders on integrated approaches to reconciling agriculture and biodiversity to transform food systems. 

The session will follow the journey of a metaphorical chocolate bar with ingredients (e.g., chocolate, palm oil, rice, coffee, etc.) sourced from significant landscapes. The story-telling approach aims to: 1) showcase innovations and practices for transforming complex systems and landscapes; 2) share emerging lessons from a range of efforts, including implementation of the GEF’s integrated approach programmes; and 3) make critical connections and identify areas for further collaboration and inquiry.

Because of the multi-stakeholder and multi-dimensional nature of the session, the event will attract a diverse group of participants who are invited to share their perspectives, challenges and opportunities for achieving transformation through integration across horizontal and vertical scales.

The session is relevant to the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework because it emphasises mainstreaming the protection of ecosystem services into the agriculture and land-use sectors and conserving and integrating biodiversity for agriculture.

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