Food-SINERGY Co-Design Workshop

Lead Organization:

Université de Montréal

Partner Organizations:

International development organizations and networks Pan American Health Organization; One Health High-Level Expert Panel; International Development and Research Centre; COLANSA; UNESCO Chair on Food, Biodiversity, and Sustainability Studies; and UNESCO Chair on World Food Systems.

Research institutions McGill University, Université Laval, University of Alberta, Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Calgary, CIRANO, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Maternal Child, Université de Montpellier, INRAE, CIRAD, Montpellier Interdisciplinary Center on Sustainable Agri-food Systems, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, FLACSO, Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, American University of Beirut, and Universidade de São Paulo

NGOs Knowledge Platform Agro Development and Rural Innovation (Ukraine), Environmental Sustainable Development Unit (Lebanon), Grădina Moldovei (Moldova), Fundación EkoRural (Ecuador), Fundación Trócaire (Guatemala), EKJUT (India), Schola Campesina (Italy), and Santé Diabète (Mali)

Peasant, Indigenous, and consumer organizations European Coordination Via Campesina, MESSE, Colectivo Nacional Agroecológico del Ecuador, Campaña Nacional de Consumo Responsable Que Rico Es, REDSAG (Guatemala), and La Via Campesina


Canada, France, Ukraine, Moldova, Lebanon, Guatemala, Brazil, Ecuador, Mali, and Burkina Faso




The pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and numerous climate change-driven phenomena have provided multiple opportunities to test the global food system’s resilience (United Nations Environment Programme, 2022), revealing both stronger points and points of collapse. For example, in Ecuador, rural communities with biodiverse production were able to consume their local food even when pandemic restrictions largely isolated them from markets (P. Tittonell et al., 2021). In these same communities, farmers with more climate-resilient, agroecological production strategies better withstood unprecedented heavy rains that coincided with pandemic restrictions. In Brazil, dependence on Russia’s petroleum-based synthetic fertilizer forced the choice between feeding Brazil’s own population or upholding sanctions imbricated in complex geopolitical relationships (Nicas, J. & Spigariol, A., 2022). Such examples highlight the need for strategic, international, and intersectoral collaboration to construct resilience at different scales to support food security (F. Graef et al., 2014).

Food-SINGERY established a network of partners—leaders from international development organizations and networks, research institutions, locally based NGOS, and farmers’, Indigenous, and consumer organizations—with diverse insights to meet for a two-day workshop to co-construct a proposal for a six-year action-research project. The resulting proposal would be submitted to the New Frontiers in Research Fund call for $24 million CAD of funding.

The workshop will be guided by the working hypothesis that food system resilience is achieved through 1) the confluence of local sovereignty to ensure sufficiency, and 2) sustainable trade. These avenues are not mutually exclusive, proposes the team: Achieving resilience involves creating redundancies such that if one component fails, another can fill the gap. The team further hypothesizes that, under the right enabling conditions, resilience-promoting practices can be transferable along the local-to-global spectrum. The diversity of partners reflects the reality that pursuing resilient food systems requires intersections with social and environmental justice around access to water, energy, housing, employment, productive resources, public services, and governance.

Grant Aims:

The overall goal is to facilitate strategic, international, and intersectoral collaboration in favor of food system resilience.

Specifically, the workshop aims to refine and build on two research questions:

  1. How can food sovereignty and sufficiency be built around existing capital (i.e., knowledge, cultural norms, institutions, commercial structures, natural resources, policies) in local food systems to promote food security resilience?
  2. How can global trade agreements be implemented and operationalized to fill gaps in local capital and ensure sustainability?

Outputs and Outcomes:



  • White paper published based on discussion and workshopping results
  • Open letter written for the Globe and Mail (major Canadian newspaper) or The Conversation


  • NFRF proposal submitted; if application is successful, the guidance, direction, and collaboration for embarking on the six-year initiative provided and stage set for long-term outcomes below
  • Regardless of whether proposal is ultimately funded, workshop intrinsically valued as a timely policy reflection on food systems among a network of actors, most of whom have not previously interacted and many who are involved in making significant decisions around food policy and programming; workshop thus connected to real-world outcomes


  • Human capital constructed around food sovereignty and food system resilience that brings together diverse voices
  • Viable pathways for food system transformation at local and global scales
  • Strengthened local initiatives around food sovereignty
  • Strengthened local advocacy networks
  • Lasting and accessible interdisciplinary curricula and participatory learning tools developed around food sovereignty and resilient food systems across diverse learning environments