AR21 Global

2021 was a momentous year for global collaborations on food systems, climate change and biodiversity. We brought Alliance and CGIAR expertise to bear in informing policymakers, the private sector, and others responding to urgent calls for action. 

The UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) gathered diverse stakeholders to identify five different action tracks aiming to transform our food, from farm to fork. At the Rome Pre-Summit, the Alliance hosted a session that brought attention to agricultural biodiversity as a cornerstone of the third action track: nature-positive production.  

We emphasized the link between crop diversity and more healthy and sustainable foods, first at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s October meeting in Kunming, China (COP15), where we advocated for food’s inclusion when setting ambitious global conservation targets.   

Then, after months of planning, the Alliance convened the 2nd International Agrobiodiversity Congress, bringing together even more minds from around the world to share research, ideas, and best practices to eat, grow, and save agrobiodiversity. 

We also drew attention to the role of agriculture during the COP26 discussions in Glasgow, stressing that food production and land use can be a major cause of climate change, but also an opportunity for mitigation and adaptation. 

Of our 325 scientific journal publications in 2021, a recurring theme was that solving the climate crisis and transforming food systems must happen simultaneously. 

Our scholars argued for more rigorous monitoring to guide food system transformation, detailed development pathways for healthy, nature-positive and inclusive food systems, and reminded policymakers that the United Nation’s Decade of Ecosystem Restoration must not forget the people who live on the land, especially women.

Through meetings (in-person or virtually) and constant communication with stakeholders and partners around the globe, we remained successfully engaged throughout another year of the pandemic, which exacerbated the pre-existing obstacles for marginalized groups to make their voices heard.  

To this end, we helped organize a CGIAR Gender Platform conference, Cultivating Equality, to examine how research can tackle the intersecting socio-economic elements that influence social exclusion. We also co-published a book with FAO that presents case studies carrying insights on indigenous peoples’ food systems and lessons for a balanced relationship with nature. 

The Alliance remained deeply involved in the One CGIAR transition. One of the most salient examples of this is our involvement in the new CGIAR Portfolio, a collection of major research initiatives based on collaborations between centers and partners.

And during a record-breaking hot summer, we celebrated the opening of our new global Headquarters, located on Rome’s Aventine Hill, which also hosts staff from the CGIAR System as well as other research organizations. See one of our first events here.

Overall, 2021 saw food systems – a major aspect of our research for decades – take front and center stage in many high-level and public conversations. But it wasn’t all talk. Our research had tangible impact in our regions as we strengthened partnerships, collaborated with diverse sectors, worked with communities and implemented projects in the field.  

This year’s annual report takes us through the dozens of countries where we work to sustainably transform food systems, conserve biodiversity and help farmers adapt to and mitigate climate change. While we’re proud of our leadership role on the global stage, our top priority remained the on-the-ground work that improves lives across Asia, Africa and the Americas.