Today, on World Food Day, the global community is mobilizing to reach a Zero Hunger world. With a changing climate, inequality, and rapid population growth the challenges we face on the way seem insurmountable. However, with governments, private sector and individuals working together, we can achieve a world with enough food and water for everyone in a way that does not pollute rivers, turn forests into grazing fields, increase CO2 emissions, and cause species to go extinct.

Last month GEF CEO and Chairperson Naoko Ishii announced almost half a billion USD for a new GEF Food, Land Use and Restoration Impact Program. Working with governments, the private sector and other partners, this new initiative will create multiple benefits, not least for climate mitigation.

To keep the planet and people healthy, we need food systems designed to protect natural resources, absorb greenhouse gas emissions, provide nutritious and affordable food, and strengthen the resilience and prosperity of rural populations. The Food, Land Use and Restoration Impact Program seeks to transform food and land use systems and help countries reconcile competing social, economic, and environmental interests by moving away from unsustainable approaches.

The need for transformative change resonates with many stakeholders and partners of the GEF.

These five stories told by global sustainability leaders and technical experts challenge how we think about food, and highlight the urgent need to change the system, from production to delivery, for the benefit of those in need now and for future generations that will inherit our planet.

Our food system is broken: we must repair it
By Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever

Human ingenuity has enabled us to scale agriculture, so that it meets the demands of a growing population. Despite the tremendous progress we have made, our food and land systems are driving environmental destruction. Businesses now hold a responsibility to drive transformation in these systems, so that we can repair today’s broken food system in a way that will allow people and the planet to thrive in the long-term. As the chair of the Food and Land-Use Coalition, Paul Polman brings together businesses, policymakers, foundations, investors, academics, international organisations and members of civil society to develop science-based targets that will help transform food supply chains. The GEF is committed to supporting these efforts to repair our food system. Read the op-ed.

Changing how a billion people eat, through games
By Peggy Liu, chair, JUCCCE, China, and advisor to the EAT Foundation

When people thrive, so does the planet. Food systems have an incredibly large impact on the global environment. A shift towards a healthier diet can protect the environment from the negative effects of ultra-processed food. The most effective way to change the way people eat is to target young children who do not have set dietary habits. Food education programs in Japan and Korea have been effective for creating healthier diets and food systems. Now, China is launching a similar program called Food Heroes.

In this enlightening piece, Peggy Liu, chair of JUCCCE, China and advisor to the EAT Foundation talks about how Food Heroes uses innovative games to change the way children think about links between food and the environment.

Transforming food systems: how partnerships are the way forward in tackling global challenges

While setting environmental goals for the future, agriculture and food production need to be a large part of the discussion. 187 GEF-funded and FAO-implemented projects in over 120 countries work on addressing the critical nexus of agriculture and the environment. These projects have tackled issues ranging from climate change to the management of national waters helping 4.6 million women and men so far. Increasingly, the GEF and FAO partnership is focusing on the entire value chain to better the environment and improve livelihoods.

Read the story and find out how the partnership between the GEF and FAO has been key to tackling environmental challenges through the lens of agriculture.

How can we feed the world and keep the planet healthy? We start by making smallholder farming more sustainable
By Mohamed Bakarr, Fareeha Iqbal, Jean-Marc Sinnassamy, GEF

The last decade has witnessed a growing momentum around transforming the way smallholder farmers manage land in Sub-Saharan Africa. Governments and development partners are working to create policies, financial mechanisms, technological innovations and market opportunities to help improve smallholder farming. While these efforts are crucial for improving productivity, they do not address the long-term sustainability and resilience of the smallholder production systems. GEF program on Fostering Sustainability and Resilience for Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa supports 12 countries in the dryland regions to integrate environmental management in the transformation of smallholder agriculture. The program, led by the International Fund for Agricultural Research (IFAD), focuses on safeguarding natural resources — land, water, soils, trees and genetic resources — that underpin food and nutrition security. Read more in the blog post here.

What is the point of agribusiness, if it doesn’t do good?
By Sunny Verghese, co-founder and group chief executive officer, Olam International

Feeding a population expected to reach 9.7 billion while respecting nature’s boundaries is a major challenge. Sunny Verghese, the CEO of Olam International, emphasizes how purpose-driven leadership in agribusiness may be the key to global food security. He stresses that companies can maximize their purpose and value by focusing on supporting one another’s contributions to improving the agri-sector. Olam works with 4 million farmers to grow food responsibly and plays a role in fostering greener and more sustainable supply chains to protect water, land and livelihoods.