In the quest to transform global agri-food systems, reducing food loss and waste seems like a straightforward way to fight hunger, increase access to healthy diets, and protect the environment. But the reality is more complicated; solving one problem may unintentionally lead to unexpected consequences somewhere else.

What is it?

“Change the Game, Change the Future” is a new game platform that will help policy makers and the public learn the role data can play in addressing these tradeoffs and help them choose the most effective policies. The online decision making platform was jointly developed by UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and The Lexicon, a U.S.-based non-profit organization whose Green Brown Blue accelerator mobilizes domain experts and builds tools to tackle some of the greatest challenges facing our food systems. It was introduced during a week-long flagship event of the World Food Forum, a youth-led movement to help shape the future of food and agriculture.

A holistic view at our food systems.

“We have to feed 2 billion more people by 2050 and save the only planet we have. This is possible only if we look at the food systems holistically and consider all the elements and their relationships,” said Maximo Torero, chief economist of FAO. “This game platform is designed to encourage people to adopt this ‘systems’ approach.”

Real-time data from FAO.

The online game platform mixes real time data from over 190 countries with interactive animations that depict local cultures across the globe. Through playing the game, both policy makers and the public can learn to manage complex, real-life trade offs while seeking a balance between economic growth, social progress, and environmental protection. Beneath the game’s surface, advanced quantitative global modeling tools analyze these tradeoffs and provide synergies with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“Data on spreadsheets don’t often make for the most compelling stories,” said Douglas Gayeton, co-founder of The Lexicon. “To make people care and move them to action, we use game theory and storytelling tools that put a face and a place on data, then show the motivations that drive impacts beyond regional boundaries.”

The game play.

“Change the Game, Change the Future” lets players choose one of 17 regions, from Western Africa and the Middle East to Southern Asia and the Andes. After selecting a region, players are asked to make interventions based on three policy domains: institution, infrastructure, and behavior. To make the most informed decisions, players can also seek advice from government ministers and experts, but they quickly learn that making decisions for the benefit of one region may lead to adverse effects halfway across the globe. At its core, the game’s message is clear: to meet the challenges of the future, governments, companies, and the public must all learn how to navigate multiple perspectives and consider what’s at stake in balancing the tradeoffs that must be made to strengthen global food systems.

“By bringing insights from state-of-the-art modelling into an app, we allow the players to understand the complexity of real life policy making in a simple but not simplistic way. It allows everyone to test a number of strategies, and learn that addressing both local and global challenges does not require waiting for a hypothetical or miracle solution, but a well designed policy agenda, with costs and benefits understood and accepted by most stakeholders.” said David Laborde, Senior Research Fellow at IFPRI.

Coming soon!

The platform’s first game, “Change the Game, Change the Future: Food Loss and Waste” will be available for free on the World Food Forum’s website and as a free iOS and Android app in December, 2021, with additional titles in the series planned for 2022.

About FAO

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Our goal is to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. With over 194 member states, FAO works in over 130 countries worldwide. We believe that everyone can play a part in ending hunger.

About Green Brown Blue

Green Brown Blue is a food systems solutions accelerator that assesses the current food landscape, engages with key influencers, identifies trends, surveys innovative work and creates greater visibility for ideas and practices with the potential to shift key food and agricultural paradigms.

Change the Game Team

Change the Game, Change the Future features an unprecedented collaboration between members of FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) and The Lexicon to create a platform that demonstrates the complexities of agri-food systems transformation. Meet the team behind it.