BOOK: Enabling Sustainable Food Systems – Innovator’s handbook


Sustainable food systems are fundamental to ensuring that future generations are food secure and eat healthy diets. To transition towards sustainability, many food system activities must be reconstructed, and myriad actors around the world are starting to act locally. 

While some changes are easier than others, knowing how to navigate through them to promote sustainable consumption and production practices requires complex skill sets. 
 This handbook is written for “sustainable food systems innovators” by a group of innovators from Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe who are leading initiatives to grow, share, sell and consume more sustainable foods in their local contexts. It includes experiences that are changing the organizational structures of local food systems to make them more sustainable. 

The collaboration began in 2013 with a call issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the French National Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (INRAE) to gather innovations and initiatives that connect sustainable, small-scale producers with consumers in local markets. (p. 31)

Given the world’s rich cultural and biological diversity, there is no need for two food systems to look exactly alike for them to be considered sustainable. Rather than a constraint, this reality should be considered as an opportunity to innovate, to create new rules for how to grow, trade and eat food.  (p. 16)

The handbook is organized as a “choose your own adventure” story where each reader – individually or in a facilitated group – can develop their own personalized learning and action journeys according to their priorities. 
The topics included in this handbook are arranged into four categories of innovations
  1. Attracting consumers and keeping them engaged
  2.  Knowing your markets
  3. Finding the “right” price


  1. Sharing and co-creating knowledge for sustainable production
  2. Managing and accessing sustainable inputs
  1. Staying connected through logistics
  2. Packaging for sustainability
  3. Guarantees for sustainability
  1. Innovative finance
  2. Formalizing your collective work
  3. Bringing in partners and advocates
Also available in French and Spanish.

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