Events & Media | 03 Dec 2023

Funding the Food Systems Transformation: special editions of the FOODPathS Funders Fora

Explore the latest FOODPathS’s funders fora meeting, where we talked with diverse stakeholders for shaping the future of the Sustainable Food Systems Partnership! Dive into FOODPathS’s work in transforming the European food system and stay updated with the latest insights by subscribing to the website!



From June 2023, FOODPathS has been organising several meetings and discussions for and with the different actors of the European food systems. The main goal was to engage them in research and innovation activities that can increase the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the food system. Moreover, such meetings helped us to better understand the perspectives of stakeholders regarding a food systems approach and to obtain their input. This is a short overview of the main insights coming from those meetings.

FOODPathS meets HDHL

On October 10th 2023, FOODPathS joined the Healthy Diet, Healthy Life (HDHL) Governing Boards meeting in Brussels. This meeting was between the HDHL Management Board, the Scientific Advisory Board, and the Stakeholder Advisory Board. There were representatives from ministries, funding organisations, research organisations, scientists and other stakeholders from the health and food fields. As HDHL connects the domains of food and health, it was a wonderful opportunity to have stakeholders from both these domains around the table.

After a short introduction and an active icebreaker, the participants were divided into several groups. They were asked to imagine the year 2033 and that Research and Innovation (R&I) had played a crucial role in enabling the transformation of our food system. This challenged participants to think about future food systems research approaches, share good practices, discuss how to create food systems impact, and explore how to evaluate food systems projects.

Everyone shared their group work outcomes in the plenary session at the end of the workshop. Some interesting insights included:

– Stakeholders from health and food domains should be involved in the research topic identification and prioritisation (potentially through panels/boards)

– It is crucial to have food systems experts involved in the evaluation of funding R&I proposals

– Use joint approaches in projects wherever possible, e.g. stakeholder involvement and/or mixed cohorts from the very beginning

– Stimulating co-creation and networking between projects rather than competition

– Selecting projects based on their potential for connection and synergy rather than the best ranked projects

– Stronger involvement of young people and early career researchers

Funders Forum for Philanthropic organisations and Foundations

On September 12th, 2023 Philea and Fondazione Cariplo (partners of the FOODPathS project) organised a dedicated Funders Forum for philanthropic organizations and foundations, attended by 22 participants, including representatives from six foundations from various European Countries. The goal was to inform these organisations about FOODPathS, the future Sustainable Food Systems Partnership (FutureFoodS) and the opportunities for them to become involved. There were presentations from Daniela Luth (European Commission, DG-RTD) to give more information about the future partnership, representatives from Philea and Fondazione Cariplo to elaborate on the reasons for being partners in FOODPathS, Hugo de Vries (INRAE, coordinator) and Nikola Hassan (Juelich) to give insights into the FOODPathS project, and Gilles Ferron (FutureFoods Partnership coordinator), providing an overview of the FutureFoodS objectives, activities and partners.

Regional Funders Forum

In May 2023, FOODPathS joined the ERIAFF Conference to organise a ‘Regional Funders Forum’, a meeting to engage potential future funders that from the regional governments.

With 32 participants from 15 regions, the FOODPathS “special edition” of this Funders Forum focused on the role of regional expertise in shaping sustainable food systems in Europe. The event started with a keynote speech by Wouter Spek, Director of the EuroBioForum Foundation, emphasizing the role of regions as changemakers in transforming the European food system. Participants engaged in workshops, focusing on topics such us the integration of the food system into regional strategies, the necessary actions for achieving regional food system goals, and the challenges faced in implementing these strategies.

The workshops highlighted:

– the link between food systems and tourism,

– the importance of local products,

– the need for support for small farmers

– the need for increased investment in startups, education, and technology,

– the importance of regional cooperation.

In addition, they stressed the importance of quality over mass production, sustainable business models, and the promotion of regional sustainable ecosystems, considering growing consumer awareness of health and environmental aspects of food production.

Building the FOODPathS Funders Network

Prior to the events mentioned above, FOODPathS partners had already reached out to and engaged ministries, regional governments, funding agencies and other stakeholders from all over Europe to shape a first group of members of the Funders Network, almost 50 organisations, as shown in this map. They met twice, in November 2022 and in February 2023: thanks to this interaction and their thoughts, we have developed a document with the replies to the main doubts and questions about the Partnership Sustainable Food Systems, collected in the “FOODPathS Partnership FAQ”.

Next steps

All the input gathered during the different Funders Fora events is currently being processed and will be used to shape recommendations on food systems approaches for the future partnership and beyond. FOODPathS will keep you updated about the main results of this process, as well as on our upcoming events.