The Science behind the Summit

The Summit is committed to delivering the latest evidence-based and scientific approaches to food systems transformation by inviting a diverse range of input from actors everywhere. The Summit’s Scientific Group, an independent group of leading researchers and scientists from around the world, is key to the Summit’s structure. Its members are responsible for ensuring the robustness, breadth and independence of the science that underpins the Summit. They will also inform the Summit’s recommended outcomes and clarify the level of ambition and commitments that emerge from the Summit process.

To inform the Summit’s outcomes and support its commitment to science, the Scientific Group is engaging with networks of hundreds and even thousands of independent experts during the preparatory process. Summit partners are invited to submit research papers and findings to the Scientific Group. Fresh thinking is welcomed and input from all constituency groups — including civil society, indigenous peoples, producer organizations, youth organizations and the private sector — is strongly encouraged to ensure that a diversity of voices are represented and heard in the Summit’s scientific discussions.


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Join discussions with the Scientific Group on the Summit Community platform

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Joachim von Braun

Chair of the Scientific Group

Professor Joachim von Braun (Germany) is the Director of the Center for Development Research (ZEF), Bonn University, and Professor for economic and technological change at the same institution. His research focuses on economic development, science and technology policy, poverty reduction, food and nutrition security, resource economics and trade.

Von Braun is President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences of the Vatican; member of the German National Academy of Science – Leopoldina, the Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech), the Academy of Arts and Science North Rhine-Westphalia, a fellow of the African Academy of Science and of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences. He is Vice President of the German NGO “Welthungerhilfe”. Previously, he was Director-General of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). He was elected as president of the International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE), received honorary degrees and several other awards.

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Science and knowledge for the UN Food Systems Summit

The Science Reader brings research-based, state-of-the-art, solution-oriented knowledge and evidence to inform the transformation of contemporary food systems to achieve more sustainable, equitable and resilient food systems, and it includes research reports by the Scientific Group of the UN Food System Summit 2021.

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Transition steps for food system transformation

This brief by the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition draws on the Panel’s Foresight report ‘Future Food Systems: For people, our planet and prosperity’ to outline the essential steps needed to transition to healthier, more sustainable food systems.

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COVID-19 and food systems: rebuilding for resilience

This brief by the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition makes clear that while food systems urgently need to be transformed to better support both human and planetary health, transformed food systems must also be resilient to future shocks.

Event: Summit Science Days

Recognising the pivotal role of science, technology and innovation for food systems transformation, the Science Days, organized by the Scientific Group of the UN Food Systems Summit and facilitated and hosted by FAO, offer an important opportunity to support the agenda setting process with scientific evidence and perspectives. Join us on 8-9 July 2021. 

Meeting with Pontifical Academy of Sciences

Scientific Group of the Summit and Academies discuss Summit agenda in the Vatican

The Scientific Group for the UN Food Systems Summit held a workshop with the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and representatives of Academies from all hemispheres to identify key action areas of science and innovations in support of the goals of the Summit.
See final statement >>
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"This summit must not become bogged down in ideological battles"

The UN Food Systems Summit’s top priority is to change the dysfunctional world food system. In a Q&A with Welthungerhilfe, Joachim von Braun, agricultural scientist and Chair of the Summit's Scientific Group discusses the challenges of fighting hunger and the role of science.


Food Systems Summit Briefs are invited papers by the Scientific Group in support of the Summit agenda setting.

These papers are typically contributed by researchers from partners of the Scientific Group after partnership has been agreed by Scientific Group Leadership (Chair and Vice Chairs). The papers are authored by researchers in the Partner organizations. Members of the Scientific Group may serve as co-authors.

Food Systems Summit Briefs

in cooperation with the Scientific Group for the UN Food Systems Summit (preliminary list, continuously being updated, May 3, 2021)


A. Modelling Food Systems Transformations


The Bioeconomy and Food Systems Transformation

by Eduardo Trigo, Hugo Chavarria, Carl Pray, Stuart J. Smyth, Agustin Torroba, Justus Wesseler, David Zilberman, Juan F. Martinez (February, 17, 2021)


The Transition Steps Needed to Transform Our Food Systems

by Patrick Webb, Derek J. Flynn, Niamh M. Kelly, and Sandy M. Thomas on behalf of the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition (April 26, 2021)


Cost and Affordability of Preparing a Basic Meal around the World

by William A. Masters, Elena M. Martinez, Friederike Greb, Anna Herforth, Sheryl L. Hendriks (May 2021)


B. Science, Technology, and Innovation Actions


The Role of Science, Technology and Innovation for Transforming Food Systems Globally

by Robin Fears, Claudia Canales (April 2021)


How could science–policy interfaces boost food system transformation?

by Etienne Hainzelin, Patrick Caron, Frank Place, Arlène Alpha, Sandrine Dury, Ruben Echeverria, Amanda Harding (May 14, 2021)


Food System Innovations and Digital Technologies to Foster Productivity Growth and Rural Transformation

by Rui Benfica, Judith Chambers, Jawoo Koo, Alejandro Nin-Pratt, José Falck-Zepeda, Gert-Jan Stads, Channing Arndt (May 2021)


Leveraging data, models & farming innovation to prevent, prepare for & manage pest incursions: Delivering a pest risk service for low-income countries

by Taylor, B; Tonnang, HEZ; Beale, T; Holland, W; Oronje, M; Abdel-Rahman, EM; Onyango, D., Finegold, C; Zhu, J; Pozzi, S, Murphy, ST (April 15, 2021)


Food Systems Innovation Hubs in Low-and-Middle-Income Countries

by Kalpana Beesabathuni, Sufia Askari, Madhavika Bajoria, Martin Bloem, Breda Gavin-Smith, Hamid Hamirani, Klaus Kraemer, Priyanka Kumari, Srujith Lingala, Anne Milan, Puja Tshering, Kesso Gabrielle van Zutphen, Kris Woltering (March 26, 2021)


A New Paradigm for Plant Nutrition

by Achim Dobermann, Tom Bruulsema, Ismail Cakmak, Bruno Gerard, Kaushik Majumdar, Michael McLaughlin, Pytrik Reidsma, Bernard Vanlauwe, Lini Wollenberg, Fusuo Zhang, Xin Zhang (February 10, 2021)


Delivering climate change outcomes with agroecology in low- and middle-income countries: evidence and actions needed

by Sieglinde Snapp, Yodit Kebede, Eva Wollenberg, Kyle M. Dittmer, Sarah Brickman, Cecelia Egler, Sadie Shelton (May, 17, 2021)


C. Actions for Equity, Inclusiveness and Nutrition and Health


A review of evidence on gender equality, women’s empowerment, and food systems

by Jemimah Njuki, Sarah Eissler, Hazel Malapit, Ruth Meinzen-Dick, Elizabeth Bryan, and Agnes Quisumbing (May 11, 2021)


Marginal areas and indigenous people – Priorities for research and action

by Sayed Azam-Ali, Hayatullah Ahmadzai, Dhrupad Choudhury, Ee Von Goh, Ebrahim Jahanshiri, Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi, Alessandro Meschinelli, Albert Thembinkosi Modi, Nhamo Nhamo, Abidemi Olutayo (April 5, 2021)


The White/Wiphala Paper on Indigenous Peoples’ food system

by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)




Priorities for inclusive urban food system transformations in the Global South

by Paule Moustier, Michelle Holdsworth, Dao The Anh, Pape Abdoulaye Seck, Henk Renting, Patrick Caron, Nicolas Bricas (May 10, 2021)


Secondary Cities as Catalysts for Nutritious Diets in Low- And Middle-Income Countries

by Kesso Gabrielle van Zutphen, Dominique Barjolle, Sophie van den Berg, Breda Gavin-Smith, Klaus Kraemer, Capucine Musard, Helen Prytherch, Johan Six, Simon Winter, Kris Woltering (April 2021)


The Future of Small Farms: Innovations for Inclusive Transformation

by Xinshen Diao, Thomas Reardon, Adam Kennedy, Ruth S. DeFries, Jawoo Koo, Bart Minten, Hiroyuki Takeshima, and Philip Thornton (April 2021)


Fruits and vegetables for healthy diets: Priorities for food system research and action

by Jody Harris, Bart de Steenhuijsen Piters, Stepha McMullin, Babar Bajwa, Ilse de Jager, and Inge D. Brouwer (March 2021)


Safeguarding and using Fruit and Vegetable Biodiversity

by Maarten van Zonneveld, Gayle M. Volk, M. Ehsan Dulloo, Roeland Kindt, Sean Mayes, Marcela Quintero, Dhrupad Choudhury, Enoch G. Achigan-Dako, Luigi Guarino (April 2021)


Addressing Food Crises in Violent Conflicts

by Birgit Kemmerling, Conrad Schetter, Lars Wirkus (April 2021)


COVID-19 and Food Systems: Rebuilding for Resilience

by Patrick Webb, Derek J. Flynn, Niamh M. Kelly, Sandy M. Thomas, and Tim G. Benton on behalf of the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition (May 2021)


In the age of pandemics, connecting food systems and health: a Global One Health approach

by Gebbiena M. Bron, J. Joukje Siebenga, Louise O. Fresco (February 15, 2021)


D. Actions for Sustainable Resource Use and Foresight


Water for Food Systems and Nutrition

by Claudia Ringler, Mure Agbonlahor, Kaleab Baye, Jennie Barron, Mohsin Hafeez, Jan Lundqvist, J.V. Meenakshi, Lyla Mehta, Dawit Mekonnen, Franz Rojas-Ortuste, Aliya Tankibayeva, Stefan Uhlenbrook May 2021)


Crop Diversity, its Conservation and Use for Better Food Systems. The Crop Trust Perspective

by Stefan Schmitz, Rodrigo Barrios, Hannes Dempewolf, Luigi Guarino, Charlotte Lusti, Janet Muir (April 2021)


Climate Change and Food Systems

by Alisher Mirzabaev, Lennart Olsson, Rachel Bezner Kerr, Prajal Pradhan, Marta Guadalupe Rivera Ferre, Hermann Lotze-Campen (May 2021)


Reduction of Food Loss and Waste – The Challenges and Conclusions for Actions

Findings and Recommendations for Actions of an international Conference by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences with the Rockefeller Foundation

by Joachim von Braun, Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo and Roy Steiner (February 15, 2021)


The Vital Roles of Blue Foods in the Global Food System

by Jim Leape, Fiorenza Micheli, Michelle Tigchelaar, Edward H. Allison, Xavier Basurto, Abigail Bennett, Simon R. Bush, Ling Cao, Beatrice Crona, Fabrice DeClerck, Jessica Fanzo, Jessica A. Gephart, Stefan Gelcich, Christopher D. Golden, Christina C. Hicks, Avinash Kishore, J. Zachary Koehn, David C. Little, Rosamond L. Naylor, Elizabeth R. Selig, Rebecca E. Short, U. Rashid Sumaila, Shakuntala H. Thilsted, Max Troell, Colette C.C. Wabnitz (April 15, 2021)


E. Investment, Finance, Trade and Governance actions


Ending Hunger by 2030 – policy actions and costs

by Joachim von Braun, Bezawit Beyene Chichaibelu, Maximo Torero Cullen, David Laborde, Carin Smaller (March 4, 2021; reprint from Oct.13, 2020)


Financing SGD2 and Ending Hunger

by Eugenio Díaz-Bonilla (May 11, 2021)


F. Actions in Regions and Countries


Policy options for food systems transformation in Africa – from the perspective of African universities and think tanks

by Fadi Abdelradi, Assefa Admassie, John Asafu Adjaye, Miltone Ayieko, Ousmane Badiane, Katrin Glatzel, Sheryl Hendriks, Mame Samba Mbaye, Fatima Ezzahra Mengoub, Racha Ramadan, Tolulope Olofinbiyi, Simbarashe Sibanda (April 2021)


The Role of Science, Technology, and Innovation for Transforming Food Systems in Africa

by Sheryl L. Hendriks, Endashaw Bekele, Thameur Chaibi, Mohamed Hassan, Douglas W. Miano and John H. Muyonga (April 2021)


The Role of Science, Technology and Innovation for Transforming Food Systems in Latin America and the Caribbean

by Elizabeth Hodson de Jaramillo, Eduardo J. Trigo and Rosario Campos (April 2021)


The Role of Science, Technology, and Innovation for Transforming Food Systems in Asia

by Paul J Moughan, Daniel A Chamovitz, S Ayyappan, Morakot Tanticharoen, Krishan Lal, Yoo Hang Kim (April 2021)


The Role of Science, Technology, and Innovation for Transforming Food Systems in Europe

by Claudia Canales, Robin Fears (April 2021)


Transforming Chinese Food Systems for both Human and Planetary Health

by Shenggen Fan, Jikun Huang, Fusuo Zhang, Wenhua Zhao, Hongyuan Song, Fengying Nie, Yu Sheng, Jinxia Wang, Jieying Bi and Wenfeng Cong (April 18, 2021)


Key Areas of the Agricultural Science Development in Russia in the Context of Global Trends and Challenges

by Evgenia Serova, Nadezhda Orlova, Vladimir Popov, Marina Petukhova, Alina Osmakova, Oleg Kobiakov, Maxim Markovich, Irina Donnik, Irina Chernukha, Mikhail Glubokovsky, Viktor Tutelyan, Alla Kochetkova, Natalya Zinovieva, & Petr Tolmachev (April 2021)


Food System in India. Challenges, Performance and Promise

by Ashok Gulati, Raj Paroda, Sanjiv Puri, D. Narain, Anil Ghanwat (March 30, 2021)


Publications and Reports of relevance for Food Systems Summit

List of all relevant publications


Evaluation, Peer Review, and Science Advisory Activities

(April 2021)