Visions of food system we aspire to see in the year 2050

Last October, The Rockefeller Foundation, in partnership with SecondMuse and OpenIDEO, launched the Food System Vision Prize to invite organizations, communities, companies, universities, and governments to develop a Vision of their food system they aspire to see in the year 2050. The idea was inspired by an exercise our team did while I was at the Omidyar Network. We reviewed books and movies set in the future and categorized them into two groups: optimistic or pessimistic. You can probably predict the results – 98% were pessimistic. We are very good at (and dedicate many resources and talent to) describing the world we don’t want, but we often struggle to imagine the world we do want. This year, as we face the tragedy and upheaval of Covid-19 and surging hunger around the globe, bright visions of the future feel even harder to conjure.
We launched the Food System Vision Prize to inspire creative, holistic, and positive ideas for the future because if you can’t imagine it, you can’t create it. We couldn’t have known when we launched the Prize just how hungry we would be for hope.
Today, it’s our honour to announce the Top 10 Finalists. These Visions were chosen from more than 1300 submissions for their potential to inspire the real, positive and bold transformation of a specific food system that is actionable, concrete, and believed to be attainable by 2050.
The Top 10 Finalists for the Food System Vision Prize are:
7Gen Food System: Led by the Sicangu Lakota people, this Vision for the Rosebud Indian Reservation of South Dakota, USA, outlines a regenerative agricultural system that creates economic opportunities for tribal members; increases the accessibility of locally produced, nutrient-dense foods; and re-establishes the Lakota as primary stewards of the lands [Lead Organization: Sicangu Community Development Corporation].
• Arakunomics: Focusing on the regions of Araku, Wardha, and New Delhi, India, this Vision empowers tribal communities and seeks to ensure environmental sustainability, fair profits for farmers, and food and nutrition security for all [Lead Organization: Naandi Foundation].
• Eat Right: This Vision from New Delhi, India looks to create a national movement towards healthier diets through a systems-based approach of reducing food waste; improving hygiene and sanitation across the value chain, and increasing access to and affordability of healthy foods [Lead Organization: Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India].
• Food Innovation Nervecenter: This Vision from Lagos, Nigeria, identifies six key food challenges for the region, from food waste to ageing farmers, and outlines a multi-faceted plan to build a more regenerative and nourishing food system [Lead Organization: Darkpore Media Africa LTD].
• From Mama’s Kitchen to Metropolitan Beijing: This Vision from Beijing, China, imagines a plant-based dietary transformation for the world’s most populous nation, contributing to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and pollution [Lead Organizations: Good Food Fund of the China Biodiversity Conservation & Green Development Foundation].
• Kwayeskastasowin Wahkohtowin: Led by local First Nations communities, this Vision from Manitoba, Canada, aims to create a just and sustainable agrifood system while addressing the process of decolonization and reconciliation between Indigenous and settler populations [Lead Organization: Natural Systems Agriculture Laboratory, University of Manitoba].
• Lima 2035: This Vision for Lima, Peru, imagines a regenerative and nourishing food oasis by 2035, with the aim of securing climate-resilient running water for all in Lima’s fragile desert environment [Lead Organization: International Potato Center].
• Re-rooting the Dutch Food System – From More to Better: This Vision from the Netherlands outlines a transformed, circular Dutch food system that safeguards natural resources, promotes a healthier and more sustainable plant-based diet, and recycles unavoidable losses and wastes [Lead Organization: Wageningen University & Research].
• Restoring Nairobi to “A Place of Cool Waters”: This Vision for Nairobi, Kenya, aims to develop a more equitable, just and sustainable urban space, where access to nutritious food is a reality for everyone [Lead Organization: African Population and Health Research Center].
• Stone Barns Center: This Vision from the Hudson Valley in New York, U.S., seeks to bring about a new food culture—rooted in the ecological, nutritional and communal potential of organic agriculture—through groundbreaking culinary experimentation [Lead Organization: Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture].
Together, they remind us that the nourishing and regenerative food future we so urgently need is ours to create, and that out of crisis comes the opportunity for transformation. I invite you to learn more about each Vision, how the Finalists were selected, and what comes next.
I hope these Visions inspire you to feel hopeful, as they have inspired me, and that you will join us in supporting the Finalists as they move their ideas to action.
Roy Steiner, Senior Vice President for the Food Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation