Participants of the Food Systems for Health and Nutrition integrated programme workshop series on Zoom. (Ed Boydell)
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Reflections by Karen Mapusua - Manager Operations at SPC’s Land Resources Division (LRD)
SPC’s internal integrated programming efforts recently concluded a landmark first series of workshops on Food Systems for Health and Nutrition (FSHNIP) this past Thursday, bringing to a close a series of technical workshops related to the design of the programme over the past two and a half weeks.
A webinar attended by close to 100 of our SPC colleagues in late March launched the series of internal workshops, bringing together experts across SPC to collaborate on the design of the integrated programme to help organize, connect, and innovate ideas, expert services, and work programmes of SPC around food systems outcomes.
We hosted an online webinar through Zoom to enable a broader participation opportunity, the workshops used collaborative approaches to engage participants to work through design elements of, among other things, the integrated programme’s objectives, intended outcomes, theory of change, and early ideas on potential concepts for demonstration. Around 30 of our specifically invited SPC experts were engaged throughout the 4 workshops.
Dr Audrey Aumua, SPC’s Deputy Director General, in her opening remarks of the workshop series explained to our colleagues that the food systems programme would help greatly in informing and improving the services of SPC to its Members, for both coping with shocks such as the current COVID19 pandemic, and to long term climate related events as well.
An initiative developed internally at SPC and identified as a useful and holistic approach to helping better coordinate, partner and resource food systems related outcomes across a number of SPC development areas, the programme had to innovate and respond contextually in a number of ways; the COVID-19 pandemic forced the workshop to move to an online engagement (using Zoom), while COVID-19 itself and its shocks to food trade and food availability (both local and imported) provided reality checks and contexts for the design of Pacific food systems able to withstand shocks locally from an international event. During the workshop, four of our Pacific Island Country members (Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga) faced the brunt of Tropical Cyclone Harold that also brought additional impacts to add further thoughts about the consideration of such impacts on agriculture and coastal fisheries for rural communities, biosecurity measures to apply to pests and diseases, and the overall economic shocks being further exacerbated by weather related extreme events.
On conclusion of the final workshop, many SPC staff agreed that while the intent of the Food Systems programme would greatly help streamline more food systems related areas of action for better coordination and value addition internally at SPC, that the design of the food system integrated programme is to ultimately help SPC better respond to the needs of its Members to help have a greater impact at national level.
The integrated programme and workshop series might have been a world first achievement of a kind in developing and designing a food systems integrated programme online across a diverse set of experts in various locations. This was the reflection of the lead researcher on the development of the Food Systems programme, Dr Federico Davila, of the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). While the COVID-19 forced adjustments were an initial challenge, he reflected that the willing participation and engagement of the involved SPC staff had made the process rich and engaging and high in learning and value.
The integrated programme will now collate and review the feedback and information from the workshop consultations to progress its design work, while facilitating other follow up related pieces of work internally. The integrated programme will be formally led and coordinated by our Land Resources Division (LRD), with support from the Strategy, Planning, and Learning Division (SPL).