Areas of Work

Agricultural Trade and Investment

In 2012, the Quaker UN Office (QUNO) began a four year project working with others in stepping back from the WTO agriculture negotiations to explore some questions at the heart of defining the purpose, structure and directions of governance of trade and investment in agriculture.

QUNO believes that by placing livelihoods and dignity alongside sustainability, resilience and food security as the central objectives of trade and investment for agriculture, and taking account of new global challenges, it is possible to envision a New Framework for Trade and Investment in Agriculture (NFTIA) that would better enable the world to meet peoples’ long-term food security needs.


In early 2014, QUNO convened an off the record expert consultation, in which different actors were able to share and develop ideas about the development of a new framework for trade and investment in agriculture and strategize on a shared plan for change.

The consultation focused on two themes:

  • Previous civil society efforts to change the paradigm of trade and investment in agriculture
  • A review of changes in food systems since the conclusion of the WTO's Agreement on Agriculture and other trade agreements, to better understand the current climate, need and potential for change so that trade and investment rules support all people's food security.

These two discussion areas provided a foundation to share and develop ideas about possibly developing a new framework that would better support food security. The presentations shared during the consultation are available below.

Throughout 2014 we will continue to hold consultations with key stakeholders to work towards the development of the new framework. QUNO is gathering related papers and blog pieces, which are shared on this page. If you would like further information, please contact us at

Background Documents

Related Reading

Opinions expressed in the papers and blog pieces shared in the collection of links below do not necessarily reflect those of QUNO, but are provided instead to offer additional background and context to the issues and debate surrounding agricultural trade and investment.

More to be uploaded soon…

Recent Timeline Events

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:

Related Links

Related Areas of Work

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 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.

Related Areas of Work