Timeline

Agricultural Trade and Investment

Facilitating policy making that places food security at the heart of agricultural trade governance.
September 2016

QUNO Attends WTO Public Forum 2016 on Inclusive Trade

During the last week of September 2016, QUNO attended the WTO Public Forum on Inclusive Trade. Throughout various plenary sessions and side events, QUNO followed the discussions on how to enable a wider range of individuals and businesses to participate in the trading systems and how WTO rules can help to ensure everyone benefits from trade. In particular, QUNO paid close attention to the panel discussions on the roles of agriculture and small scale farmers in today’s global trading system. 

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June 2016

QUNO signs joint Quaker statement on TTIP

Five Quaker organisations from Europe and the United States have asked governments to say ‘no’ to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the controversial ‘mega’ trade deal being negotiated between the European Union and the United States.  

It is the first time that Quaker organisations, working on both sides of the Atlantic, have spoken out together against such a trade treaty.

American Friends Service Committee, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Quaker Council for European Affairs, Quaker United Nations Office and Quaker Peace & Social Witness, have sent a statement to Prime Minister David Cameron, government representatives and trade officials. They said that TTIP negotiations are prioritising the prospect of short-term economic gain over the longer-term factors necessary to human wellbeing and protection of the Earth.

The statement comes in the context of building opposition to TTIP, as controversial, confidential negotiation documents were leaked into the public domain and the French government has warned that it is considering blocking the deal.

TTIP is set to include a so-called Investor to State Dispute Settlement mechanism or Investment Court System, under which foreign companies could sue governments for introducing social, environmental, health or other legislation believed to threaten profitability.  The Quakers assert that these mechanisms hand too much power to large companies, making them “fundamentally antidemocratic in nature and therefore unacceptable”.

Read the full statement here.

Photo: GotCredit/Flickr

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April 2016

Research paper: Access to seeds: lessons from the access to medicines debate

Access to seeds.jpg

This new research paper considers what lessons the access to medicines debate provides for those concerned with protecting farmers’ access to seeds. Taking the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health as its point of departure, this paper explores implications for interested parties at the international and national levels, as well as for multilateral institutions themselves.

Key messages include: 

1) The importance of public opinion and pragmatic coalition-building in raising the political capital to deal with sensitive negotiating topics;

2) The need for national governments to use TRIPS flexibilities in the same way that many already have for safeguarding access to medicines;

3) The urgent need for sustained, productive collaboration between relevant multilateral institutions to clarify the governance structure for plant genetic resources. By doing so they can help ensure farmers' continued freedom to experiment with, store, exchange and re-use seed - essential practices for maintaining biodiversity and achieving food security.

The paper, prepared by QUNO Programme Assistant Patrick Endall (Food & Sustainability, Climate Change) is available here, or by clicking on the link below.

All QUNO work is published under a Creative Commons license.

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February 2016

QUNO presents at international colloquium on global governance

On 4-5 February, QUNO's Food & Sustainability representative travelled to The Hague, Netherlands, to attend and present at a colloquium at the International Institute of Social Studies. Susan was among a diverse set of speakers examining the intersections between global governance and politics, climate justice and agrarian / social justice.

Her paper calls for a reinvigoration of the public sector, with a particular focus on food security, small-scale farmers and intellectual property rules.

 

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January 2016

VIDEO: Susan Bragdon talks about our Food & Sustainability programme

In this video, which is excerpted from a longer film shown at the Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) World Plenary Meeting held in Peru in January 2016, Susan Bragdon discusses the work of our Food & Sustainabilty programme. 

The Food & Sustainability programme of the Quaker United Nations Office addresses the complex and intertwined issues of trade and innovation policy and how they relate to poverty, hunger and food insecurity. We look at these issues with a particular focus on small-scale farmers, including fisherfolk, forest dwellers and pastoralists, a critical yet largely unheard voice in trade and innovation policy-making. Our work is collaborative, providing the space where it is safe to think, share and explore creative alternatives to a food system that does not work for the majority of the world’s population. 

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January 2016

QUNO Food & Sustainability publications now available in four languages

Three of QUNO's recent policy briefs from the Food & Sustainability programme are now available online in up to four languages. All QUNO work is published under a Creative Commons license. Copies of all QUNO publications can be downloaded free by following the links below, while hard copies are available on request to quno@quno.ch.

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January 2016

QUNO demonstrates policy tool at Global Donor Platform for Rural Development

Over the past year, QUNO has been developing an interactive tool to help shape coherent food security and trade policies. Attending the Global Donor Platform's annual event in Geneva this week gave us the opportunity to present our progress and discuss ways of taking it forward with a broad variety of grant-giving institutions.

Each year the Donor Platform for Rural Development selects what they believe will be the most relevant topic to them in the coming year. For 2016 the focus is on policy coherence between trade and rural development, a theme that resonates strongly with our Food & Sustainability work. We were therefore able to constructively intervene in sessions, while gaining a better understanding of the issues as-seen from a donor perspective.

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December 2015

Policy Brief: The relationship between food security policy measures and WTO trade rules

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. 

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December 2015

Project Brief: QUNO interactive policy tool

Within our Trade and Investment in Agriculture work, 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. These are liable to come into conflict and the aim of the tool is to help policy makers shape their policies in ways that are mutually compatible and context-appropriate.

In this project brief, Susan Bragdon, our Food & Sustainability Representative, talks through her vision of the tool and how she believes it could benefit small-scale farmer organisations, trade negotiators and policymakers in shaping effective food security measures.

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November 2015

New Report: The relationship between key food security measures and trade rules

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 new QUNO report, prepared by Kim Burnett (University of Waterloo), 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.

 

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August 2015

Policy Brief: Realizing the right to food in an era of climate change

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 in English and Chinese, by clicking on the link below.

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April 2015

QUNO hosts third expert consultation on trade and investment in agriculture

From 1-2 April 2015, QUNO held its third Expert Consultation on a New Framework for Trade and Investment in Agriculture (NFTIA) at the Château de Bossey (pictured), near Geneva. QUNO hosted 17 participants, representing academics, trade delegates, civil society representatives, small-scale farmers and UN officials, from a total of 11 different countries.

The consultation focused on how to reconcile trade rules with policies designed to safeguard food security. Building on findings that emerged from previous consultations in the series, it explored how QUNO might develop an interactive tool that would allow various stakeholders, from policymakers to farmers, to determine if a particular food security measure would be permitted under existing World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations. The tool now exists in prototype form and is currently being populated with content, with the help of the consultation participants. QUNO hopes to demonstrate its functionality and utility at WTO and Committee for World Food Security events later this year.

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January 2015

QUNO & FAO launch an online consultation on food security measures and trade

QUNO launched and moderated an online consultation on food security measures and trade, in conjunction with the FAO Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition and the FAO Trade and Markets Division.

Entitled 'Examining the Linkages between trade and food security: What is your experience?', the consultation invited contributors to share their expertise and knowledge of these issues, in an attempt to put small-scale farmers back at the centre of the debate. It asked probing questions about the efficacy of a global market-based approach to food security, and sought to find ways of reconciling food security measures with trade rules.

The discussion ran from January to February 2015. A summary of the consultation, written by QUNO Representative for Food & Sustainability Susan H. Bragdon, is available at the below link.

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December 2014

French, Chinese and Spanish translations of our Trade Liberalization and Food Security booklet are now available!

French, Chinese and Spanish language translations of Trade Liberalization & Food Security: Examining the Linkages by Jennifer Clapp are now available. The paper is part of our project working towards a New Framework for Trade & Investment in Agriculture, in which we are exploring some of the questions at the heart of defining the purpose, structure and direction of governance of trade and investment in agriculture, in order to place livelihoods, dignity, sustainability, resilience and food security at the heart of the rules governing these areas.

Downloads of the booklet are available at the link below:

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October 2014

QUNO hosts side event on trade and food security at the Committee on World Food Security

QUNO hosted a side event entitled “Harnessing Trade for Food Security” at the 41st meeting of Committee on Food Security. Susan H Bragdon, QUNO’s Representative for Food & Sustainability, introduced the conceptual inter-linkages between trade and food security and the challenges the dominant paradigm of increasing trade liberalization may present to countries as they implement food security measures.

Aileen Kwa, the Coordinator for the Trade and Development Programme at the South Centre continued the panel presentation by explaining more specifically the evolution of the WTO Agreement on Agriculture and in particular the current impasse at the World Trade Organization.

Isabel Mazzei, present in her personal capacity, described the struggles for a WTO trade negotiator from a developing country when trying to reconcile desired national measures on food security with pressure to brought to bear to decrease policy flexibilities in the WTO.

Ivan Polanco, director of Asamblea General de la Asociación Nacional de Empresas Comercializadoras de Productores del Campo (ANEC), a peasant organization that represents small and medium producers of basic grains, also sat on the panel. Ivan described the experience of Mexico after NAFTA and in particular the marginalization of small-scale producers and an increasing dependence on food imports. 

Billy Mayaya, the Director of the Right to Food Network in Malawi, discussed his country’s experience both with trade rules and with pressure from philanthropic sources to pursue economic development through engagement with the global market.  Both Ivan and Billy stressed the need for policy flexibility for countries to support small-scale farmers and the development and maintenance of agricultural biological diversity as a key means to ensure food security and resilience over time.

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October 2014

QUNO and the South Centre host discussion on trade liberalization and food security

QUNO and the South Centre, a Geneva based intergovernmental organization of developing countries, hosted a seminar with State delegates where author Jennifer Clapp presented the findings of her paper, “Trade Liberalization and Food Security: Examining the linkages.”  The paper was commissioned by QUNO, and is available here.

State delegates expressed appreciation for the opportunity to step back from the details of the World Trade Organization trade negotiations to discuss the underlying narrative that supports arguments for trade liberalization.  The meeting was well attended with a lively discussion of the paper’s conclusion that context is important in determining the most appropriate trade policies to ensure food security.

 

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October 2014

QUNO hosts WTO working session on agricultural trade and food security

QUNO organized a working session at the WTO Public Forum, to address the forum theme of “Why Trade Matters to Everyone." QUNO posed the question “are the benefits of trade sufficiently inclusive?” in consideration of food security. In addition the sub-themes of trade and employment and trade in Africa were addressed by contextual presentations by panelists.

Moderated by Susan H. Bragdon, QUNO’s Representative for Food & Sustainability, the panel consisted of Jennifer Clapp, Professor & Canada Research Chair in Global Food Security and Sustainability at University of Waterloo, Jerome Bunyi, the Agricultural Attaché to the Philippine Permanent Mission to the WTO and Morrison Rwakakamba CEO if the Ugandan farmers` association, Agency for Transformation .

Jennifer Clapp presented findings from her paper, “Trade Liberalization and Food Security: Examining the Linkages” addressing the underlying narrative of trade liberalization and its relationship to food security. Jerome Bunyi gave context to the paper by providing an account of,  the situation of the Philippines and trade liberalization from the founding of the WTO until the present. Morrison Rwakakamba brought the perspective of small-scale farmers to the fore in sharing his experience in Uganda.

The session was well received by a highly engaged group of more than 80 attendees and included perspectives and questions from a number of different stakeholder groups. An audio recording of the working session can be found here.

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September 2014

Read QUNO Geneva's latest Geneva Reporter newsletter

QUNO Geneva is pleased to share the most recent issue of our Geneva Reporter newsletter and accompanying briefing paper on The Aarhus Convention. Other featured articles include updates on our A New Framework for Trade and Investment in Agriculture work, the Human Rights Council, UN Climate Summit, and Peace and Disarmament.

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February 2014

Susan Bragdon joins QUNO Geneva as Representative for Food and Sustainability

Susan Bragdon joined QUNO Geneva on 1 February as Representative, Food and Sustainability to lead our work on intellectual property of plants and on a new framework for trade and investment in agriculture. Susan, trained as a resource ecologist and patent lawyer, brings in depth experience of UN agencies and other international organisations and negotiations, especially on intellectual property of plants and biodiversity. Susan, presently based in Portland, Oregon, will work initially as a consultant before relocating to Geneva later this year.

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December 2013

QUNO holds side event on “Business, Human Rights and Conflict” at 2013 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights

Photo Credit: Claire Rodgerson

QUNO - together with the UN Global Compact, the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, and the Constructive Engagement Group - held a side event on Business, Human Rights and Conflict at the 2013 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights. Diane Hendrick of QUNO moderated the discussion. During this event, Lynn Finnegan from QUNO spoke about the impact that business activities can have on local communities’ access to natural resources such as water, land and food. QUNO also outlined good practices for effective company-community engagement.​

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