The latest UN Food Systems Summit was held at the premises of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, Italy, back in July. The aim of this global stocktaking meeting, that takes place every two years, is to review the progress of the sustainable transformation of food systems and its contributions to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

Created with the intent of uniting global leaders in an effort to find innovative ways to produce healthy fare for the world’s growing population without harming the planet, the 2023 edition built on the momentum of the 2021 Food Systems Summit and represented an opportunity to identify the successes achieved so far and recognize the gaps that still need to be filled.

The term “food systems” refers to the entire food value chain: from production, transportation, processing, retailing, wholesaling and preparation of food to its consumption and ways of disposal. The impact of all these steps on global economy, health and environment is also included in the equation. Since the perspective is inclusive on a worldwide scale, the food systems approach redefines the concept of agrifood sector as a cooperative one, where businesses are not stand-alone entities anymore but strictly interconnected, in order to deliver affordable food in the most sustainable way.

One of the central themes that reverberated throughout this year’s Summit was the pivotal role of digitalization – which encompasses the use of technology, data and information systems – in enhancing food systems on a global scale by making them more resilient, efficient and sustainable. In this perspective, since we all need to give our contribution to this important transformation, in Alifood we keep selecting only identifiable food, traceable from farm to fork thanks to the use of the most advanced and innovative production technologies.

On a larger scale, significant investments must be made to realize this vision because – as stated during the Summit – the digital divide may jeopardize all the efforts made so far. Access to technology and a widespread digital literacy are the main challenges – together with availability and affordability – that need to be urgently addressed.

The UN Food Systems Summit 2023 marked a significant milestone in recognizing the transformative potential of digitalization in food systems. Real-time information sharing – that supports coordination, digital collaboration and knowledge exchange – may well accelerate the transformation into resilient agrifood systems yet this opportunity calls for a coherent multi stakeholder approach and shared policy formulation. It requires concerted efforts from governments, private sector investors and civil society.

It involves investing in digital infrastructure, fostering digital literacy and ensuring equitable access to technology. It also needs responsible and ethical use of data, addressing concerns about privacy and security. Balancing technological advancements with social and environmental considerations is always paramount.

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