Review of the activities of QUNO in 2015
In the midst of UN discussions on the Secretary-General's recent Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism (PVE), QUNO co-hosted the launch of three reports by Saferworld on counter-terrorism, stabilisation and statebuilding in Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen. A packed room of Member States, UN officials, think tanks and NGOs engaged with multiple panels of speakers, including experts on PVE and the regions concerned, as well as UN representatives.
These are QUNO's remarks.
Countries / Regions:
This policy brief consolidates lessons learned from an in-depth literature review on small-scale farmer (SSF) innovation systems and a two-day expert consultation on the same topic that QUNO hosted in May 2015.
The key message here is that small-scale farmer innovation systems are unique relative to more ‘formal’ agricultural innovation systems. For this reason, the types of policies that are put in place to encourage innovation in agriculture require a fundamental reconsideration.
This report first provides a historical overview of both the concept of food security and the incorporation of agriculture into international trade negotiations. It then turns to the relationship between food security policy options and the WTO’s trade rules, and highlights opportunities for governments to implement policies that support food security while meeting their international obligations. It concludes by laying out a range of policy measures to enhance food security, assessing the compatibility of each with WTO regulations.
Prepared by David Elliott, based on a full-length report by Kim Burnett, available below.
In this issue:
- Nelson Mandela Rules
- Conflict Sensitivity in Business
- Highlights from QUNO New York
- Recent publications
- QUNO Q&A with Rachel Evans
- News in Brief
- Project Brief: An interactive trade policy tool
QUNO has been developing an online tool to help explain the complex relationship between food security measures and the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) trade rules. Susan Bragdon, our Food & Sustainability Representative, talks through her vision of the tool and how she believes it could benefit small-scale farmers, trade negotiators and food security.
QUNO New York Director, Andrew Tomlinson, was invited to speak at a meeting of the Washington-based Conflict Prevention and Resolution Forum on 'The Future of Goal 16: Peace and Inclusion in the Sustainable Development Goals', along with Lynn Wagner of IISD and Cynthia Clapp-Wincek, a consultant and policy expert with the US government, in a session chaired by Liz Hume of the Alliance for Peacebuilding. Andrew's remarks focused on the universal application of the peaceful, just and inclusive societies agenda within the SDGs. The lively discussion included comments on the applicability of this approach to the US.
This briefing paper was prepared for the 8th session of the UN Forum on Minority Issue in November 2015, and revised in August 2016 to incorporate recommendations of the Forum. The risks faced by children of incarcerated parents can be compounded by criminal justice and penal systems that do not take notice of their existence or do not see their rights as relevant considerations. The disproportionate criminalization of members of minority groups means that minority children are also disproportionately affected. This briefing outlines how the impact of this can exacerbate risks and exclusion faced by children from minority groups and lays out recommendations to States to ensure that the rights of minority children whose parents are arrested, prosecuted or imprisoned are upheld.
This literature review marks QUNO’s step back from focusing on intellectual property rights (IPR) to ask more broadly: What are the types of innovation in agriculture that we as a global community want to encourage? From here, we explore the types of policy measures that might do so — including but not limited to IPR.
Innovation in agriculture is most commonly associated with the development and transfer of technologies to farmers (innovation for farmers), or more recently, farmers’ participation in research and development projects to improve the relevancy and usefulness of its outputs (innovation with farmers). However the innovation that happens on the farm (innovation by farmers) has been largely overlooked. Small-scale farmer innovation is not widely recognized within academia or international bodies relating to trade, intellectual property rights, plant genetic resources or biodiversity conservation.
As a result, efforts to promote innovation in agriculture have mostly be concentrated on creating incentives for private sector investment in research and development — commonly by establishing strong intellectual property rights regimes, ensuring open access to markets, and increasing technology adoption rates among farmers. These strategies are generally focused on promoting innovation for and with farmers, rather than nurturing the innovation that is happening all the time on the farm.
The key points distilled from this relatively nascent body of literature include:
- Farmers are driven to innovate for many different reasons, which include but go beyond opportunities to participate in commercial markets.
- Farmers innovate through informal networks of social and economic relations in an iterative and cumulative process, the results of which are not easily attributed to individuals.
- The scope of what is considered ‘innovation’ is broader, including but not limited to the development of new technologies, the adaption of new technologies developed elsewhere to suit local conditions and needs, the active maintenance and further development of plant genetic resources and associated knowledge, and social / organizational innovation to mitigate the affects of climate change and market volatility.
- Outside entities may support small-scale farmer innovation by increasing exposure of their innovative capacity, facilitating knowledge sharing, providing supplementary support where required and providing financial resources directly to farmers.
There remain significant gaps in the literature:
- The contributions of small-scale farmers to local and global food security, rural livelihoods and agroecosystem resilience is not well documented in academia. More evidence-based research is required.
- Efforts to measure farmers’ innovation in absence of outside intervention are in their infancy.
- There is also limited evaluation of the quality of support currently available to innovative farmers, and it is difficult to isolate farmers’ capacity to innovate while international organizations play an increasingly visible role in participatory research.
QUNO's Human Impacts of Climate Change programme briefly summarizes the latest climate science ahead of the COP 21 climate change negotiations taking place in Paris in December 2015.
Small-scale farmer innovation systems have remained an abstract and elusive concept - this document seeks clarification by presenting a review of the academic literature on the subject.
In it, we call for further evidence-based research documenting small-scale farmers' contributions to food security, livelihood improvement and agroecosystem resilience. Through this, we hope small-scale farmers may become more visible in policymaking and more supported within national innovation strategies.
Read the full report below:
The rules governing international trade in agriculture are often vague and ambiguous, requiring significant legal and administrative capacity to uncover opportunities to support food security and rural livelihoods without breaking WTO rules. This report identifies some of the measures that may be used to help advance developing countries’ food security in ways that comply with international obligations to reduce trade-distorting domestic supports and market protections.
QUNO New York Director, Andrew Tomlinson, was invited to speak as a panelist in the public consultation on Social Inclusion hosted by the Independent Commission on Multilateralism at the International Peace Institute, together with Dr. Ilze Brands Kehris, and Omar El Okdah. His comments focused on the core nature of the issues of social inclusion, political participation and effective governance and their role in conflict prevention, the nature of inclusive national ownership in practice, and the need for the multilateral system to model inclusion in its own practices.
In July, the United Nations Security Council met in an Arria-formula meeting on Gaza, co-chaired by the Permanent Missions of Malaysia and Jordan to the United Nations. The event was organised by the Israel Palestine NGO Working Group, of which QUNO NY is a member.
This booklet of the speaker's presentations has now been published. The speakers included Mr. Vance Culbert from Norwegian Refugee Council, Mr. Ardi Imseis of Cambridge University, Ms. Tania Hary from Gisha, and Dr. Sara Roy from the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University.
Countries / Regions:
In May 2015, QUNO convened a small expert consultation in Geneva to discuss the emerging concept of small-scale farmer innovation systems. The event brought together 19 participants from across 12 countries, providing a platform for discussing first-hand experiences of innovation at this level. The experience of one of the attendees - Joe Ouko, a farmer from Kenya, features in the 93rd edition of Quaker News ('Starting small', p.11): http://issuu.com/quakers-in-britain/docs/quaker_news_93_4f36b9a9828ae7/1
Over the course of the two days, detailed information was shared, gaps highlighted, working relationships established and future directions explored. The report, which can be accessed by clicking the link below, represents a synthesis of what was discussed; something that will be valuable in informing QUNO’s work moving forward.
Read the report, as well as a literature review of small-scale farmer innovation systems, below:
Between November 30 and December 11, 2015, international negotiators will meet at the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 in Paris. The annual COP is the main decision making session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This meeting is historic: in the context of increasingly strong and urgent calls to tackle anthropogenic climate change, the participants will seek to agree on a new agreement applicable to all Parties.
QUNO maintains a presence at the UNFCCC and supports the negotiations through a number of avenues - particularly through our "quiet diplomacy" work. These four papers are intended to provide a comprehensive briefing for those concerned about the outcomes of COP21. The subjects are covered as follows:
- Paper 1: The UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris 2015.
- Paper 2: The importance of grassroots action to influence international climate negotiations.
- Paper 3: Questions to ask policy makers.
- Paper 4: What can we say, briefly, about the findings from climate science?
QUNO delivered an oral statement on the rights of children of parents sentenced to death or executed during the 30th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The issue was raised by QUNO in response to an update to the UN Secretary General's report on Capital punishment and implementation of the safeguards guaranteeing the protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty.
Daniel Cullen, Programme Assistant for Human Rights and Refugees, delivered the statement during the General Debate discussion on Friday 18 September.
Text and video (beginning at 01:41:30) is available below:
In honor of the International Day of Peace, QUNO and peacebuilding organizations from around the world have issued to UN Member States a shared statement on the importance of fostering peaceful, just and inclusive societies. Throughout the General Assembly in September, world leaders will sign on to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and there will be high-level discussions on terrorism, UN peace operations and peacebuilding. In light of these events, "Facing the Challenge of Peace" encourages the international community to adopt the following principles: embracing the universality of the 2030 Agenda; seeking to understand local contexts; seeking to do no harm when planning and implementing development, humanitarian, economic and security engagements; focusing on increasing resilience; and prioritizing local needs.
Agriculture is a major contributor to anthropogenic climate change, and in turn climate change threatens the viability of food production around the world. The spread of capital- and technology-intensive 'industrial' agriculture in the modern era has been accompanied by an erosion of on-farm genetic diversity, a loss of local knowledge, and the abandonment of traditional farming practices. This undermines our capacity to
adapt to already-changing climatic conditions.
This report highlights the role of small-scale farmers as innovators and custodians of food system diversity, a critical resource in ensuring the realization of the right to food in an era of climate change. Taking an innovation systems perspective, it proposes a new framework for the design of collaborative agricultural research projects and agendas, and notes the need for pro-active policy measures in creating an enabling environment for such partnerships.
The report is available for download free by clicking on the link below.
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