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Food and Agricultural Commodity Systems (FACS) are fundamental to the sustainable development of the 170 countries UNDP supports. FACS are often the largest contributor to their economies; food and nutrition is fundamental for citizen health; and FACS have a key role to play in achieving the SDGs.

Yet, FACS are in crisis and need to be radically transformed to become sustainable. The production practices and consumption patterns in global FACS are on an unsustainable trajectory with multiple impacts on human development, the environment and economies. To ecosystem degradation, conflicts over land and natural resources, reduced capacity and resilience to climate and other shocks, persistent poverty, food insecurity, and related people displacement and migration, and malnutrition including overweight and obesity, we must add the global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and conflicts such as that between Russia and Ukraine.

We must transform to a new paradigm of agricultural production based on diversified, resilient agroecological systems which work simultaneously on achieving economic, environmental, social, and health outcomes; with smallholders central to the transformation as the engine of economic development. Working on FACS will contribute not only to recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, by creating sustainable and resilient livelihoods for many along FAC supply chains, but also by reducing deforestation and preventing further zoonoses in the future.

UNDP works on FACS through many different areas, such as nature, climate and energy, and has consolidated its support and vision into one innovative strategy. This Strategy targets the deep crisis the world finds itself with an Integrated Approach, and lays a foundation for reshaping global food systems for a sustainable future. With a current portfolio of projects representing over USD 1.2 billion in grants, UNDP works on FACS in more than 100 countries and close to 500 landscapes. UNDP's vision for FACS is, through multi-stakeholder collaboration, to transform food and commodity systems into resilient, equitable, inclusive, environmentally, socially and economically sustainable systems. This will be achieved by UNDP building on its trusted relationship with governments to:

• Be the SDG integrator with a broad development mandate, and adopt a whole-of-government approach, using multi-stakeholder collaboration for systemic change.

• Bring technical expertise in 170 countries to unlock synergies and build capacity for integrated work.

• Build partnerships based on comparative advantage with FAO, IFAD, WHO, UNEP and others.

• Facilitate learning and curating collective knowledge for action.

• Work across multiple geographical scales, top-down and bottom-up.

• Unlock and catalyze private and public – bilateral and multilateral - financing.

The Strategy’s Three Key Expected Results

To achieve the FACS vision, UNDP’s strategy is focused 3 interlinked key expected results.

1. Upscaling sustainable production landscapes and jurisdictions

2. Transforming food and agricultural commodity supply chains to become sustainable

3. Empowering all members of vulnerable households and smallholder producers to become more resilient, attain food security and pursue sustainable livelihoods

The key results have a multiplier effect: as more food and agricultural commodity supply chains become sustainable, more production landscapes and jurisdictions have a route to sustainability, and more producers have the opportunity for a sustainable livelihood.

The Five Intervention Areas of the FACS Strategy

UNDP offers support across 5 systemic intervention areas devised to drive the achievement of the 3 key results. Working with the expertise and funding of partners, UNDP will develop the detailed structure, strategy and activities in these 5 intervention areas.

At country level:

1. Reforming policy, legislative and regulatory frameworks for sustainable and resilient food and agricultural commodity systems and strengthening their enforcement.

2. Strengthening national and subnational capacities and systems to foster sustainable food and agricultural commodity systems.

3. Improving market and financial incentives for producers to shift to more sustainable practices.

4. Promoting sustainable and resilient livelihoods for all members of vulnerable rural households and small producers.

At global level:

5. Increasing global and country level impact through global advocacy, capacity building and partnerships.

UNDP will mainstream the concepts of leaving no one behind, gender equality and women’s empowerment, transparency and governance, and resilience in all interventions. 

The strategy is shown unfolding - 5 Intervention Areas achieving 12 Transformative Pathways -  ranging over energy, water, food waste, biodiversity and more - on the way to 3 Key Expected Results – in the below visualization. 

FACS Theory of Change



If you want to know more, download the UNDP Food and Agricultural Commodity Systems (FACS) Strategy here.

Do you prefer an easier-to-digest summary? Read the UNDP FACS Strategy Summary here.

Our Approach - Changing Systems Through Collaborative Action 

As we react to multiple crises of climate, resources, conflict and cost of living, the world faces a remarkable opportunity to transform food and land use systems over the next ten years in a way that can reap massive societal and agroecological dividends: moving from recovery to resilience.  However, among the common action agendas and prevailing discourse on what is needed for systemic change to happen in the sector, barriers are often overlooked:

  • Solutions and improvements in the functioning of food and agricultural production and consumption are often expected to derive from technical, financial or technological innovations. Yet individual, institutional and societal innovations and best practices are essential for change.
  • The quality of current multi-stakeholder collaboration in the sector is inadequate to meet the scale and nature of this challenge.  Traditional FACS governance mechanisms, including inter-institutional and multi-stakeholder components, are often characterized by power and information asymmetries. Fostering deeper spaces for collaboration and reflection and explicit inclusion of marginalized groups requires patience, time, and sustained commitment and support from participants, facilitators and sponsors.

Understanding and managing the interdependencies globally in this sector requires more collaborative mindsets and involves putting in place innovative governance arrangements. We need new systems thinking leadership – with new approaches, practices, tools, incentives, metrics and ways of working that can navigate and measure complexity and collaboratively deliver future food and agricultural commodity systems that are fit for purpose, particularly at the national and sub-national levels. Many are working on systemic change tools and methodologies but very little of this expertise is benefiting country-based collaborative networks.

The Effective Collaborative Action methodology is designed to support the process of bringing in these new ways of thinking and working to accelerate transformation of Food and Agricultural Commodity systems.