The Food Systems Dashboard

The Challenge

There is increased attention at the global level to the role that food systems play in shaping diets. This awareness is partly due to the Sustainable Development Goal 2, which aims to eliminate malnutrition in all its forms, and the recognition that poor diets are a leading risk factor in the global burden of disease.

Our understanding of food systems has benefited from research that has:

  • explored the link between food systems and nutrition
  • presented conceptual frameworks describing the various components of a food system
  • prioritized food system-centric programmatic and policy interventions and measures to improve diets and nutrition

Evidence-based policymaking requires sound evidence. It is difficult for governments to make improvements across food systems that are not well understood or measured. At the country level, stakeholders still need a tool that lets them understand their own national food systems, identify key challenges and prioritize actions.

Overview

The food system is the complex network of people and activities involved in getting food from field to fork. It includes everybody – and everything – involved in producing and eating food. Food systems are essential to human well-being, because they affect people’s diets, nutrition, and health.

Dashboards are useful tools that help users visualize and understand key information for complex systems. Users can track progress to see if policies or other interventions are working at a country or regional level.

The Food Systems Dashboard is an innovative tool to describe food systems, diagnose challenges within them, and identify policies and actions for improvement. Using more than 50 sources, it provides data for more than 200 indicators on the drivers, components, and outcomes of food systems in more than 190 countries and territories.

The Dashboard’s publicly available data can be visualized with maps and a variety of graphs or downloaded as a dataset, allowing policy makers, practitioners, and academics alike to track and assess drivers of the food system. The Country Profiles provide a food system “snapshot” that offers context-specific data to inform decision making.

In recent years, the public health and nutrition communities have used dashboards to track the progress of health goals and interventions, including the Sustainable Development Goals. To our knowledge, this is the first dashboard that collects country-level data across all components of the food system.

Goals of the Dashboard

  • To improve stakeholders’ awareness of the different food system core components of national food systems — food supply chains, food environments, and consumers — and how these components influence diets and nutrition outcomes
  • To enable stakeholders to compare their food systems with those of other countries of a similar food system type,
  • To suggest priority areas of action — in the form of policy and program interventions, tools, and investments — for improving food systems’ contribution to diets and nutrition and indicate the food system actors that need to be involved in bringing about the change desired

Project Team

The Dashboard was developed by an international, multi-disciplinary team led by Johns Hopkins University and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition. Collaborators include the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, Harvard University, City University London, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and the Agriculture-Nutrition Community of Practice.