Conscious Food Systems Alliance
Reconnecting with ourselves, each other and nature.
The world needs to embark on a major transition to build a sustainable future. Given the limited time that we have and the collective action imperative to move into a safe and just ‘operating space for humanity’ we need to explore the drivers that can catalyse major ‘systems change’ or ‘transformation’. We have the science, technical capacity and technological tools to chart our way through the transformation. However, we are lacking the collaborative mindset and agreed priority values required to leverage necessary change. Until we address the fundamental issues entrenched value and belief systems we will not be able to enact the necessary and critical actions to set us on a path for planetary sustainability.
In this context, UNDP is convening the ‘Conscious Food Systems Alliance’ (CoFSA) to explore the role of consciousness and the potential of proven approaches such as mindfulness, somatic transformation, systems leadership, indigenous and feminine wisdoms to advance sustainability. Fundamentally, helping us to reconnect with ourselves, each other and nature can build the inner foundations – mindsets, values and skills – for the actions our society and planet needs.
We are at a pivotal moment. Now is the time and the opportunity to introduce new narratives and new ways of thinking and feeling so that individuals can through awareness and compassion for themselves and others be powerful agents of change. Only when we can better cultivate constructive thoughts and emotions and challenge our unhelpful mental patterns and embodied habits, can we engage differently and co-create solutions with others.
In particular, the transition towards sustainability requires a new leadership based on « being » (authentic, purposeful, compassionate, mindful, etc.), rather than « doing ». Leaders – in public and private sectors - need to access their feelings and whole-body intelligence – head, heart, gut – to facilitate this transformation. It will be this ‘consciousness’ approach that will unlock the full potential of the ‘technical’ capacity and solutions that we have developed over decades but never scaled appropriately.
“The more deeply I search for the roots of the global environmental crisis, the more I am convinced that it is an outer manifestation of an inner crisis that is, for lack of a better word, spiritual"
Al Gore, American politician and environmentalist
“I used to think the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse, and climate change. I thought that with 30 years of good science we could address those problems. But I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed, and apathy … and to deal with those we need a spiritual and cultural transformation — and we scientists don’t know how to do that".
Gus Speth, World Resource Institute
Beginning in October 2020, UNDP initiated the conceptual design of the Alliance with a Concept Note, and commenced partner outreach to more than sixty key stakeholders, including development agencies, companies, governments, NGOs, donors, academia, grassroots and indigenous networks, and consciousness experts.
In March 2021, the CoFSA held its first Partners Workshop with a group of over thirty partners dedicated to exploring the role of consciousness to support the transformation of food and agriculture systems. This event confirmed interest in the initiative and highlighted a number of key questions, leading to the launch of a series of mini-workshops from April-July to discuss and develop the initial vision of the Alliance. The inputs, learnings and next steps from these mini-workshops were captured in the CoFSA Insights Report.
In October 2021, the CoFSA launched the next phase of building the Alliance in the “Breathing Room”: the intentional and transformative space where 27 core partners connect deeply with themselves and one another to co-create and co-implement the Conscious Food Systems Alliance – vision, strategy, portfolio of activities, partnerships, resourcing, global reporting and advocacy. The Breathing Room initial phase is a six-month process with a committed group of core partners – grassroots organizations, international NGOs, companies, representatives of academia, as well as consciousness and systems change experts. The profiles of the Breathing Room members have been gathered in this collection of Biographies.
The Breathing Room operates alongside the Practice Room, where prototype and pilot activities are developed and implemented, and the Learning Room and Living Room which are in development.
In parallel, Working Groups to develop specific topics or workstreams related to the CoFSA have been established. These include groups on the Theory of Change and Evidence Base, Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E), Living Room (Community Space), Indigenous Knowledge and Wisdom, CoFSA Manifesto, and Network of Local Hubs.
The Network of Local Hubs working group is looking for partners who can help create a global network of local hubs whose vision is to facilitate an equitable exchange of knowledge and experience across local centers offering conscious food learning programmes and retreats that empower partners to co-create and provide programmes for a broad range of stakeholders. If you are interested please contact the Secretariat.
"The healing of the land and the purification of the human spirit is the same process.”
Masanobu Fukuoka, Japanese farmer and philosopher
The CoFSA seeks to establish Consciousness as a key evidence-based practice to envision and create a regenerative system through a global community of practitioners and institutional partners, a comprehensive service offer and a portfolio of initiatives.
We envision that through the different focal areas, CoFSA will support governments, companies and their supply chain partners, primary producers and others in developing innovative approaches for individual and cultural change towards conscious sustainability.
The initiative will identify and build on the best wisdom and practice of conscious sustainability to provide the inspiration, creativity and sense of connection into sustainability practices that is needed to unlock systemic change.
“There’s no systems change without organizational change, and no organizational change without individual change.”
Jonathan Raymond, Stuart Foundation
The full COFSA Presentation is available here.
Please contact us if you are interested in joining the “Conscious Food Systems Alliance" (CoFSA) which aims to leverage the power of inner transformation, through proven approaches such as mindfulness, to support systemic change towards sustainability, starting with the Food and Agricultural Commodities systems.
See our series of articles on the deeper dimensions of our approach to sustainability at greencommodities.org
For further information:
Andrew Bovarnick, Head Food and Agricultural Commodity Systems:
Thomas Legrand, CoFSA Lead Technical Advisor:
Alice Jervoise, CoFSA Coordinator: