Timeline

Food & Sustainability

We promote informed and balanced discussion about what agricultural systems are best suited to different circumstances and needs.
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

Policy Brief: Small-scale farmer innovation

This policy brief consolidates lessons learned from two sources:

The key message arising from both 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.

Read the brief in English, French, Spanish and Chinese, by clicking the links 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: Small-scale farmer innovation systems - a review of the literature

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 agro-ecosystem 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:

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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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October 2015

Small-scale Farmer Innovation Systems: Report on the First Expert Consultation 26-27 May 2015 in Geneva

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:

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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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June 2015

QUNO presents at WIPO seminar on Intellectual Property Rights, Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions

The issue of genetic resources or traditional knowledge that are shared among different countries was discussed at a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) seminar last week. The seminar took place from 23-25 June at WIPO headquarters in Geneva. Susan Bragdon, QUNO's Food and Sustainability Representative, was asked to talk about other international legal instruments that relate to genetic resources and intellectual property, in particular to discuss the story behind the treaties; how they came to be, what they say and the challenges presented by the regime complex.

The panel was webcast live and can be viewed at the below URL. Susan’s talk can by selecting the afternoon session of 24 June. She is the first speaker after the moderator’s introduction. 

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May 2015

QUNO holds first expert consultation on small-scale farmer innovation

From the 26th – 27th May, QUNO held its first expert consultation on small-scale farmer innovation in biodiverse food systems. 16 professionals, including academics, development practitioners, civil society actors, small-scale farmers and UN officials, from 12 different countries (such as Peru, Zimbabwe, China and Sri Lanka) attended the consultation, which took place at the Château de Bossey near Geneva. For one participant, a Kenyan farmer-innovator, the trip represented his first time outside of Africa.

The consultation, similar in form to those QUNO has held for its agricultural trade and investment work strand, sought to move beyond QUNO’s traditional focus on intellectual property to get to the heart of on-farm innovation. What drives small-scale farmers to innovate? What can impede them? What role can public policy play in developing a supportive environment for such innovation? The discussion yielded a variety of proposals for potential ways forward, both for QUNO and the group as a whole.

The paper detailing the outcomes of this consultation can be found 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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February 2014

QUNO held side-event panel discussion: Small-scale farmers, innovation and the competition of international regimes?

Small-scale farmer innovation plays an essential role in food security. During this panel discussion, speakers and participants considered how to design a coherent legal regime that supports all types of innovation and management systems, including those of small-scale farmers. Speakers included: Susan Bragdon, QUNO; Shakeel Bhatti, International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture; Isabel Lopez Noriega, Bioversity International; and Antony Taubman, World Trade Organization. The event was moderated by QUNO's Caroline Dommen.

The session built on QUNO’s 2013 Briefing Note, "Small-scale farmers - The missing element in the WIPO-IGC Draft Articles on Genetic Resources" and is part of ongoing QUNO work on intellectual property, genetic resources and food. 

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