The World Food Forum 2024: Good food for all, for today and tomorrow.

Reinventing the Future of Food: The Guiding Principles of the World Food Forum


What will our planet look like in 2030? And what about 2050? How can we nourish the nearly 700 million people who are hungry now, and the additional 2 billion people the world will hold in the next 30 years?

As Nobel Prize winning physicist Dennis Gabor wrote, “The future cannot be predicted, but futures can be invented.” Big and urgent questions demand innovative ways of thinking, organizing, problem solving and acting. To ensure healthy and nutritious food for all in a post-COVID world of increasing threats (such as pests, plagues, conflict and climate change), we have to disrupt the status quo, and be proactive about the future we want to create.

Innovation, inclusive collaboration and proactive solutions, are at the core of the World Food Forum (WFF)—a youth-led global movement to transform our agri-food systems and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. This movement strives to harness the creativity and ingenuity of the youth who will inherit the future, and empower them to shape it in beneficial ways that leave no one behind.

To ensure a unified vision while allowing for the inherent (and encouraged!) evolution of technologies and disruption of organizational practices, the WFF has a set of guiding principles aligned with the core principles of the 2021 United Nations (UN) Food Systems Summit and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These guiding principles are borrowed from the Strategic Framework 2022-31 of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and consist of the four betters: better production, better nutrition, better environment and a better life.

What is an agri-food system?

Before explaining the four betters and how they serve as aspirations to guide the movement toward a better food future, it is important to understand what an agri-food system entails.

The working definition used by the WFF for an agri-food system is the entire system that “covers the journey of food from farm to table – including when it is grown, harvested, processed, packaged, transported, distributed, traded, bought, prepared, eaten and disposed of. It encompasses non-food products (for example forestry and biofuels) that also constitute livelihoods and all of the people as well as the activities, investments and choices that play a part in getting us these food and agricultural production”.

In short, agri-food systems are complex and interrelated global, regional and local systems. Their transformation, in turn, will require a holistic and systems-oriented approach. The Four Betters can serve as a compass to ensure that the dialogues, events and actions spurred by the WFF are rooted in shared outcomes, while also helping to minimize trade-offs in achieving the SDGs.

The Four Betters

1. Better production
In today’s changing climate and environment, better production means the creation and maintenance of resilient and sustainable consumption and production patterns through efficient and inclusive food and agricultural supply chains. This means encouraging green innovation, improving pest and disease prevention, enhancing equitable access to economic and natural resources for small-scale producers and family farmers, and harnessing digital agricultural practices for greater efficiency and market access for poor and vulnerable rural agriculture communities.

A recent example of utilizing digital agricultural practices for better production is the Collect Mobile app, recently developed by FAO for GPS-equipped Android devices. This app enables milk processors in Kazakhstan to geo-locate raw milk across the country, helping to optimize collection routes, reduce transportation costs, and avoid spoilage by forecasting needs for cooling tanks and refrigeration transport.

2. Better nutrition
Better nutrition is the pursuit of a zero-hunger world, one in which there is food security for all and everyone can access nutritious food and a healthy diet. Better nutrition means integrated food safety policies and legislation across national agri-food systems, a reduction of food loss and waste at all stages of the food supply chain, and increased market transparency at the local, regional and global levels.

Better nutrition is brought about through the normative work of initiatives such as the Codex Alimentarius (a.k.a. “Food Code”) – established by FAO and the World Health Organization, and consisting of standards, guidelines and codes of practice that protect consumer health and safeguard fair practices in the food trade. It can also take the form of more community-oriented initiatives, such as a FAO project that works with women and school children to promote nutrition education and home gardens in provinces of Mozambique that have high rates of chronic malnutrition.

3. Better environment
Ensuring that we protect, restore and promote the sustainable use of all lands and marine ecosystems while combatting climate change is imperative. More efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems are a key component of achieving this better environment. We can help ensure a healthy planet for generations to come through the implementation of climate-smart agricultural practices, policies and programmes; a bioeconomy that balances economic value and social welfare with environmental sustainability; and the conservation and restoration of biodiversity in food and agriculture.

There are a myriad of ways to work toward a better environment through the transformation of agri-food systems, whether it is through an initiative to restore species-rich mangrove ecosystems in Senegal, halting deforestation in Argentina, or uncovering resilient taro species in Malaysia.

4. Better life
Imagine a high quality of life for all, and a world in which no one is left behind. As we transform our agri-food systems for a better food future, we must promote inclusive economic growth by reducing inequalities between urban and rural areas, rich and poor countries, and men and women.

In Northern Iraq, for example, FAO and the European Union are working with rural dairy producers to rehabilitate the country’s dairy production and restore essential agricultural livelihoods after destructive conflict. Equally central to the project is the empowerment of rural women in these affected areas, as dairy production is often their main source of work and income.

The above examples that speak to the four betters can serve as inspiration for new solutions to the challenges facing our world. The WFF is a platform for experimentation, big-picture innovation and global partnerships that will continue year over year to empower youth to reinvent the future of food.

Join us in reinventing the future of food.  Whether you’re interested in youth action events, innovation labs, education activities, the culinary arts, film and video, or music, the WFF has something for you.

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