About us

The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food)

A new panel guided by new ways of thinking about research, sustainability, and food systems

Since 2015, the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) is a transdisciplinary initiative working to inform the policy debate on food systems reform through evidence-based research adn direct engagement with policy processes around the world. The panel is co-chaired by Olivier De Schutter (former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food) and Olivia Yambi (nutritionist and former UNICEF representative to Kenya). The Panel brings together different disciplines and different types of knowledge, comprising environmental scientists, development economists, nutritionists, agronomists and sociologists, as well as experienced practitioners from civil society and social movements. 

This diversity reflects the holistic approach of IPES-Food, that addresses food systems in their entirety and understands issues such as hunger, environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and the pressures on smallerholder farmers as component parts of larger systemic problems, requiring systemic levers of change. It adopts a sustainability approach that includes environmental, health, social, cultural, and economic dimensions of food systems, and considers this full definition of sustainability as the benchmark of food systems reform. The democratic approach of IPES-Food combines state-of-the-art research in the natural and social sciences with local knowledge and the experience of social actors in exploring pathways for transition, as well as taking into account power relations and the political economy of food systems. Its working methods are based on participatory mechanisms and recognize the need for scientific experts to collaborate with actors across food systems in order to produce policy-relevant knowledge.

What will IPES-Food do?

IPES-Food will support the policy debate on sustainable food systems in a number of ways:

  • Produce, analyse and synthesise evidence in the field of sustainable food systems.
  • Identify gaps of knowledge and priority fields of research.
  • Develop tools to inform the production of guidelines and indicators at the national and intergovernmental levels.
  • Influence stakeholders (policy makers, scientific communities, food chain actors, civil society, media, public at large), in the context of global governance processes.
  • Support concrete food policy transitions.

Expert analysis that is fully independent

IPES-Food is a fully independent panel, without financial or organizational ties to any corporations, governments or intergovernmental agencies. The topics addressed by IPES-Food reflect what the panel of experts considers to be most relevant for the transition to sustainable food systems. The research agenda that emerges will be relevant to those actors, institutions and processes, but will not be set by them. If the panel’s analysis and recommendations are to be commensurate to the challenge of sparking a shift to sustainable food systems, they cannot be made to fit within the parameters set by specific actors, organizations or processes. The principle of independence is therefore central to the panel’s work.

More information on IPES-Food can be downloaded from our brochure