Jul 17 2015 Two recent reports highlight collaboration in food and nutrition
Two recent reports on collaborative efforts in food and nutrition were recently released: “Addressing food and nutrition security through partnerships and strong business leadership” from Forum for the Future and FrieslandCampina, and “Achieving a transparent, actionable framework for public-private partnerships for food and nutrition research” in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The former explores how, as the population of Southeast Asia grows rapidly and places greater demands on food and resources, multi-sector collaboration among stakeholders across the food value chain is needed to pursue a wider systems approach. While The Intersector Project focuses on intersector collaboration within the United States, it’s important to place our work in a larger context and exciting to see reports like this one highlighting the importance of cross-sector collaboration to solve complex global issues. The report brought together a roundtable of more than 20 stakeholders from across sectors, including agri-food multinational companies, crop producers, academia, and NGOs to coordinate efforts in food and nutrition security outcomes.
“This report truly affirms and underscores the ability of multi-stakeholder partnerships to address complex sustainability challenges, and we believe that together we can reimagine the value created across food networks and restore resilience within the system,” explained Ariel Muller, Director, Asia Pacific, at Forum for the Future. The roundtable’s three recommendations all center around collaboration, whether between businesses or between sectors. The report suggests working to:
- Get businesses working on smallholder agricultural sustainability to coordinate their efforts.
- Help businesses in logistics, packaging and information, and communications technology to work with those in the food supply chain to increase efficiency and reduce waste.
- Get companies, government bodies, and NGOs to create a shared approach to engaging the consumer on better diet and lifestyle choices.
“This report truly affirms and underscores the ability of multi-stakeholder partnerships to address complex sustainability challenges.”
The second recent development in food and nutrition collaboration is the publication of a framework for creating public-private partnerships “that can pool increasingly limited resources to address mounting public health questions related to nutrition, health, food science, and food safety.” Representatives from scientific organizations, the food industry, and government agencies (including the USDA, the CDC, the FDA, and the NIH) convened in December 2014 to discuss principles for research-oriented, food- and nutrition-related P3s, citing a lack of specific guidance in this area in the public domain. With the lack of public funding for research “and the growing need for pooling research expertise and resources to address complex issues, it has become even more critical to call for the formation of PPPs to help maximize research opportunities addressed collaboratively.”
With the lack of public funding for research “and the growing need for pooling research expertise and resources to address complex issues, it has become even more critical to call for the formation of PPPs to help maximize research opportunities addressed collaboratively.”
It’s encouraging to see the excitement around collaboration expressed in the publication of the framework — “the virtual unanimity expressed by participants from public and private organizations in support of the concept of PPPs.” And the guiding principles it addresses are key in collaboration, particularly in P3s: maintaining public trust, and pooling public and private resources. One participant outlined a key question to address before forming a partnership: “If you cannot explain in writing why and how the PPP would work, perhaps you should not be attempting to create the partnership. But even if you can justify forming the PPP, it may not be feasible for any number of reasons,” whether it’s lack of resources or mission conflicts.
With the outlined principles relating to balance of power, governance structures, information sharing, and goal definition, these guidelines for cross-sector collaboration in food and nutrition research align closely with the guiding principles in our Toolkit, which is for practitioners in any subject area.