Multi-stakeholder platforms are a recognized “game-changing solution” to achieve sustainable food systems, cutting across the 5 action tracks defined for the UN FSS 2021. The internationally recognized experience and expertise built for decades between Dutch and international partners on this topic could add value to the different UN FSS 2021 related ongoing processes. The multi-stakeholder approach is one of the 3 key Dutch priorities for the UNFSS 2021.
In general, participants agree Multi Stakeholders Platforms are key for achieving SDG2 and the 2030 agenda. Only together stakeholders can address the challenges ahead. Despite the difficulties they face, for instance, to level the playing field for each stakeholder to participate and contribute equally and meaningfully, Multi-Stakeholder Platforms can be a good vehicle for the much-needed transitions of food systems, provided they respect a few crucial rules:
- Representation and inclusiveness.
- Political will and support.
- Local ownership.
- Transparency, continuous communication, openness, and respect.
- Capacity building based on understanding each other's strengths and weaknesses.
- Address asymmetries and unequal power relations.
- Sufficient time and resources.
Recommendations per roundtable
Roundtable 1: Seed systems
- When implementing MSPs for seed systems in a particular country, a long-term vision needs to be created for the development of the seed sector in that country. As plant breeding is a long-term process, there is a need for long-term thinking and commitment. Funders need to acknowledge and cater for this as well, moving from project-based to longer-term programs-based funding.
- Any collaborative initiative needs to start with an identification of needs, before solving the problem. Also, it is necessary to bring evidence to the table in policy-making and design processes.
- Farmer breeding and seeds systems need to be recognized.
- MSPs must move beyond controversies, building trust by having transparency and accountability mechanisms in place. There should be regular outreach to involved actors, especially farmers, and a neutral convening partner.
- MSPs in developing countries need more and more diverse (Dutch) private sector involvement. Private sector branch organizations such as VNO-NCW and Netherlands Africa Business Council can play an important role herein, whereas possibly the legislative and regulatory bar for Dutch companies to step in should be lowered.
- MSPs and investment by Dutch/international actors in local seed systems need to be aligned with existing national agricultural investment plans.
Roundtable 2: Food loss and waste
- Some key conditions need to be in place for a successful MSP, such as having a strong and independent driving group of convenors/facilitators, and having a shared ambition and agenda, which creates a sense of community and participation in a joint social impact initiative.
- Additionally, it needs to be clear what’s in it for partners in the MSP, and a clear set of incentives needs to be there, such as the ability to create synergies by working with partners that complement each other.
- It is also important to create ownership especially among local actors - this is not easy, and will take time and energy - and to ensure political commitment to allow all actors to meaningfully engage. This entails setting robust standards for transparent engagement, to allow less powerful actors to be involved and give them a clear mandate. It is crucial to grasp opportunities for the alignment of powerful players with less powerful actors.
- A clear scaling strategy is necessary to scale successful MSPs (also as a visual, based on an integrated view of the value chain), as well as identifying and engaging scaling partners. Such scaling strategy needs to follow a regional or national/local approach, as there is no one scaling strategy that applies to all.
- Another key aspect for well-functioning MSPs is to provide quality information and data along the whole value chain, to improve measuring, monitoring, and learning.
- To develop effective MSPs there is a need to guarantee the long-term funding, also for facilitation, and the (overhead) cost of a professional coordinating team.
- Creating peer exchange networks between partnerships working towards the same goal can help to share learnings and scale up.
Roundtable 3: Digitalisation
- Multiple actors working on digitalisation in agri-food should take responsibility to develop this sector further to deliver on food security outcomes. They can grasp opportunities to improve the performance of this sector through cooperation.
- The Netherlands should invest in digitalisation as a contribution to food security, and Dutch actors can share their broad experience in this domain with LMIC actors.
- Stakeholders working on digitalisation and mainstream organisations need to capitalize on their differences. Introducing technology and creating infrastructure is only one aspect, adoption of digital tools by farmers requires cooperation between different actors.
- MSPs in digitalisation can learn from each other and from collaborative platforms in other domains. They may particularly benefit from dedicated support to balance interests and powers. As new partners are introduced to address challenges of MSPs, balancing interests is needed.
- When there is competition around sharing data or open/closed source code, a middle way can be found by sharing some types of data or working with partly open/closed source. It is not all or nothing.
- Actors active in the digital-for-agriculture domain need to document how food security benefits from digitalisation.
- Digital industry standards of world regions should be aligned. Common standards and regulations can improve the enabling environment by creating a bigger playing field for digital for agriculture actors to scale and cooperate more easily.