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Members of the SDSN’s Network on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems met in South Africa at the 3rd Annual Global Food Security Conference on December 3-6, 2017. The meeting brought together diverse stakeholders from the agriculture and food security sectors to discuss issues like food safety, food utilization, and addressing losses and waste. Ken Giller, a co-chair of the Network, was a speaker at the event, along with Network member Molly Jahn. A summary of Giller’s speech is available online.

As part of the event the Network hosted a workshop on the Missing Middle in SDG 2 (End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture). Here, “missing middle” refers to two distinct disconnects in the food system. One “missing middle” is the middle part of the food value chain, including processors and distributers; much attention is paid on improving conditions on farms and at dinner tables, but the path between the two is less well understood. Another “missing middle” is between scales of action. Global goal setting is by nature a top-down effort, which usually succeeds in reaching national-level actors, but is difficult to localize. Conversely, many innovative local solutions often find it difficult to take their place in global agendas. Bly closing the gap between the two, we could accelerate SDG achievement while also giving a greater voice to local actors. By exploring these “missing middles” in greater detail, we can develop better solutions for achieving SDG 2.

The outcomes of the workshop included a desire to explore the missing middle in rural as well as urban contexts, as well as the need to focus on empowering local communities. As a follow-up to this workshop, the Network will form a small community of practice around this topic. The community will develop a session proposal for the SDG 2 Conference at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands on 30-31 August, 2018. If you are interested in joining this community of practice, please contact Linda Veldhuizen.