Conference 2019: Monitoring and Evaluation for Inclusive and Sustainable Food Systems

How can monitoring and evaluation can support the transition towards inclusive and sustainable food systems? This was the topic of our 2019 Monitoring & Evaluation on the cutting edge conference, which took place on 3 and 4 April. 

Understanding inclusive & sustainable food systems

In order to deliver on the 2030 SDG-Agenda, we need to improve on the performance of food systems. ‘Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals cannot happen without ending hunger and malnutrition and without having sustainable and resilient, climate-compatible agriculture and food systems that deliver for people and planet. (Source: UN Zero Hunger Challenge – ZHC).

Better understanding of and support for inclusive and sustainable food systems is needed for improved food systems. What effective role should monitoring and evaluation play in this? New evaluation approaches need to be developed to cope with the dynamic and complex nature of food systems, which feature multiple perspectives, multiple levels, multiple actors with multiple goals operating in multiple sectors.  

Key conference question

The main question of our conference was: “How should and can monitoring and evaluation support the transition towards inclusive and sustainable food systems?”


  • How should M&E support food system change, in all its multiple levels, with actors in multiple sectors with multiple incentives and goals?
  • How should M&E also engage with and assist the inevitable trade-offs between competing and perhaps contradictory consequences?

Keynote presentations

Ruerd Ruben, Research coordinator at Wageningen University & Research:

‘Assessing moving targets: How to evaluate food systems performance and dynamics’

Paulina Bizzotto Molina. Policy officer, ECDPM:

‘Let’s get real. How insights in interests and incentives can make the SDG machinery more effective.’

Inge Brouwer, Associate Professor at the Division of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University:

‘Healthier diets from sustainable food systems: is this always a win-win?

Irene Guijt, Head of Research and Publishing at Oxfam Great Britain:

‘Imagining Alternative Futures for Food Systems’

A working conference

The conference was a working conference, where space was created to share, dialogue and co-create, so as to connect different perspectives, models and experiences on M&E that support inclusive and sustainable food systems. We used a systems perspective and methods for pulling together ideas generated in the conference. This conference built on the WUR SDG conference focusing on SDG2 and SDG 17, building alliances between different partners that work towards inclusive and sustainable food systems, where M&E can and should play a crucial supportive role.

The conference generated practical ideas and partnerships for monitoring and evaluation based on principles that support of transition towards inclusive and sustainable food systems.

Conference background

This conference is the eleventh annual ‘M&E on the Cutting Edge’ event organised by Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation of Wageningen University & Research. This specific conference is co-organised with Wageningen Economic Research (WEcR). It is one of the events organised as a follow-up to the SDG Conference ‘Towards Zero Hunger’, which was organised in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Wageningen University & Research.  The topics covered in this conference fit well within the Managing for Sustainable Development Impact approach.