The World Food System Center at ETH Zürich (ETHZ WFSC) aims to support the transformation toward sustainable food systems through systems-oriented research, education, and outreach. The mission of the initiative is “a healthy world through sustainable food systems.” This research supports healthy food production, food, and nutrition security, environmental sustainability, and social well–being using a food systems approach with inter– and transdisciplinary methods. The objectives of ETHZ WFSC are to: 1) generate new scientific knowledge and disseminate to key stakeholders; 2) provide leadership and foresight on food systems issues; 3) build capacity of the next generation of decision makers; 4) build strategic partnerships with industry, foundations, research institutions, policymakers, international organizations, NGOs, and other stakeholders; 5) engage with partners to strengthen information dissemination and impact; and 6) act as initial reference location for reliable and up–to–date information on the global food system.
Through partnerships with 40 research groups and external partners from different sectors, they focus on research, education, and outreach. The ETHZ WFSC’s core values are to: 1) commit to upholding the independence of university research, education, and outreach; 2) understand that social and environmental sustainability are key; 3) be diligent in disseminating new knowledge to relevant stakeholders; 4) offer an accessible and visible platform to cultivate discussion, debate, and exchange; 5) focus on integration, collaboration, and innovation; 6) work with strategic partnerships; and 7) orient the work toward global challenges of high societal relevance. The initiative disseminates research results through stakeholder engagement in the form of collaborations, events, workshops, and dialogue.
The founding executive director of WFSC, Michelle Grant, reiterated the initiative’s desire to build the capacity of the next generation by investing in students. She shared a story about the summer schools that international students at the beginning of their career can attend. This allows them to better understand complex food systems challenges and explore solution approaches in multicultural and transdisciplinary settings. Michelle finds it very motivating to see the students’ perspectives and ways of working, setting them up to create positive change toward sustainable food systems.