Solution Cluster 1.3.2

Enable food safety innovation and tools

The Solution & the Need: The Food Safety Solutions Centre (the “Centre”) is a financing facility proposed to support two solution areas: (1) food safety innovations (Innovations Facility) that bring new concepts to the point of prototyping for scale and (2) food safety solution and tools adaptation (Solution Accelerator) that can work to adapt existing tool to specific contexts. Both solution areas are dedicated exclusively to meeting the overlooked domestic food safety needs of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The Innovations Facility will support the validation and packaging of a roster of appropriate low-cost food safety innovations. The Solution Accelerator will translate existing tools and guidelines to strengthen governance, apply technologies, and manage food safety risks, and relevant innovations.  The innovations and validated tools sponsored by the Centre will be fit-for-purpose and fit for the context of LMICs. 

Compared to well-resourced food safety investments for exported goods, food safety in domestic markets has received limited attention, and related initiatives remain modest in scale. Lagging investment in domestic food safety has resulted in limited adoption of existing food safety tools, especially for the informal sector and markets where most fresh, nutritious food is sold. Promising ideas and concepts have stalled at the prototype stage or led to pilot programmes that were not widely accessed, adapted, or adopted in LMIC contexts.

Many ideas proposed by stakeholders (including government and the private sector) throughout the FSS process fall into the category of food safety innovations and solutions. Examples of these are cold chain and packaging solutions; traceability; a retail food safety digital platform; a centralised food donation network; toolkits for home-based food businesses; and an icon to signal safer street food.  The Centre will lead the work to develop, evaluate, and adapt these innovations to improve domestic food safety in LMICs.

About this Solution Cluster

The Food Safety Solutions Centre is a single entity the houses both the Innovation Facility and Solutions Accelerator. The approach is appealing and straightforward as many Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs)1 and single financing institutions have housed many similar projects over the years. Since 2006, the African Development Bank’s African Water Facility has helped African countries mobilise and apply resources for their water and sanitation sectors. The Asian Development Bank’s Green Climate Fund is mandated to help LMICs achieve low emissions and climate resilience.  The Inter-American Development Bank houses the Regional Public Good Initiative that finances specific regional coordination products such as strengthening value chains, standard setting, and regulatory frameworks. The Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF), housed at the WTO, is a global partnership to facilitate trade in agricultural products and contribute to sustainable economic growth, poverty reduction, and food security. Finally, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) at the World Bank has made cost-effective use of its $1.5 billion financial mechanism to fund 28 projects in 23 countries, reaching nearly 14 million farmers over nine years. The GAFSP operates with a core staff of less than ten dedicated personnel and has leveraged five private-sector dollars for every dollar of public funding.  The Food Safety Solution Centre would not require establishing a large new institutional entity. Only a lean secretariat would be needed, which could be operational quickly, especially if housed in an existing organisation with a good track record of managing similar initiatives. As a result, the Centre could hit the ground running after securing resourcing, institutional contextualisation, and trustee arrangements.

The Food Safety Solutions Centre Secretariat would lead the initiative and liaise with bilateral, regional, and multilateral financing donors, national and sub-national governments, private-sector and civil society organisations, and members of the broader technical food safety practitioner community. The Centre could be housed in a single globally mandated organisation or replicated in regional organisations mandated to enable and invest in domestic food safety. 

The secretariat would be responsible for administering calls for proposals, receiving ad hoc requests to adapt solutions, managing the jurying and selection process, and disbursing funds. Secretariat staff would be accountable to the host institution, as well as the stakeholders and donors. A panel of international experts would advise the secretariat, provide guidance on calls for proposals, and evaluate initial concepts and full proposals.  Panel membership would change with each new call to avoid perceived conflicts of interest. 

Crucially, the secretariat would establish a standard evaluation and impact assessment framework, applied across all supported projects. The framework would be shaped by the host organisation’s impact evaluation mechanisms or by a panel of experts.

The Centre would leverage and support existing initiatives enhancing the management of food safety in LMICs. For example, innovative food safety solutions supported by the Centre would complement investments provided by the WTO’s STDF in trade-related food safety capacity-building.  It would also draw on food safety knowledge and risk assessment initiatives in the Summit’s other food safety-related solution cluster. Further, the Centre would build on and leverage insights emerging from research consortia (e.g., the CGIAR’s Agriculture for Improved Nutrition and Health program), foundations, and technical support programs undertaken by FAO, WHO, and the private sector in LMICs (e.g., the GFSI’s Global Markets Program). The adaptation of toolkits and training materials would complement the pool of materials recently developed by several international organisations, including FAO and WHO2.

The Centre’s work would synergise with other initiatives not focused on, but relevant to, food safety. It would complement, for example, UNIDO’s work supporting quality infrastructure (QI) capacity enhancements in LMICs.  In many LMICs, a primary focus of QI is preventing food fraud that can be a significant source of food-borne hazards. Furthermore, UNIDO supports the development of food safety-related analysis tools in the context of trade in LMICs. Important synergies can also be realised between this cluster and other on-going programmes, including those acting to mainstream One Health initiatives, strengthen city-region food strategies and policies, and provide policy and other support for informal enterprises and workers.

1One or several MDBs could provide the coordination and evaluation infrastructure to audit and measure food safety outcomes. The regional MDBs can capitalise on synergies with their other regional investments, such as ongoing investments in hygiene, market infrastructure, supply chain traceability, and health systems. Regional MDBs have the necessary capacity for due diligence and the mandate to oversee development interventions. They are well-established institutions proven to attract global and regional funds with trusted records of investment. 2Examples include FAO handbooks on risk management and risk communications and the IFC’s handbook on food safety risk management for food operators.

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