Areas of Work

Innovation and Agriculture

Small-scale farmers are stewards of biodiversity; they maintain, adapt, improve and distribute plant varieties. The agro-biodiversity that they enhance provides a major contribution to health and nutrition. Who could be better placed to help the world cope with global environmental change and feed the world than over a billion small-scale farmers living, working and experimenting on the front lines of change?

Our work aims to ensure that innovation policy supports, rather than undermines, the critical role of small-scale farmers for ensuring local and global food security in biodiverse environments.

Ongoing Activities

  • Convening discussions about small-scale farmer innovation.
  • Commissioning research about different approaches to intellectual property protection of seeds and genetic resources, and impacts of these.
  • Promoting awareness of farmers’ and other stakeholders’ experience and interests in relation to intellectual property discussions that affect agriculture.
  • Improving understanding about the range of policy options available.
  • Undertaking human rights-based impact assessments of intellectual property protection for seeds.

 

Recent Timeline Events

March 2017

QUNO Food & Sustainability Programme Delivers Oral Statement at Human Rights Council

On March 8, 2017, the Clustered Interactive Dialogue (ID) on Sustainable Environment and on the Right to Food was held at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council. During the event, both the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, Mr. John Knox, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Ms. Hilal Elver, presented their findings.

QUNO’s Food & Sustainability Programme has been actively following UN Special Rapporteur Knox’ report on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. In particular, last fall, we have submitted a written contribution to highlight the important role of agricultural biodiversity and small-scale farmers for the enjoyment of human rights.

In an oral statement, delivered by Nora Meier, Programme Assistant for Food & Sustainability at the Interactive Dialogue, we commended Mr. Knox for his report and thanked him for recognizing the explicit connection between agricultural biodiversity and global food and nutrition security and the ability to adapt to climate change and other abiotic and biotic stressors. Furthermore, we highlighted that industrial agriculture is the largest driver of biodiversity loss and causing harm to the health of people and our planet. We ended our oral statement by asking Mr. Knox: “What action should States take separately and jointly to support the role of small-scale farmers in managing agricultural biodiversity in order to mitigate and prevent the negative impact on enjoyment of human rights arising from loss of biodiversity?”

Related Links

Related Areas of Work

March 2017

QUNO Submits Written Input to Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food in Humanitarian Contexts

On March 6, 2017, QUNO attended an informal discussion on the Right to Food in humanitarian contexts organized by the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Ms. Hilal Elver. Representatives of Oxfam, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), among other, discussed the potential need of reform of the global governance structure for food aid; the possible prolongment of violent conflict as a result of humanitarian crises; good practices; accountability mechanisms to monitor actions of aid organizations; and the role of civil society and the private sector in establishing an effective systems.

In a joint statement, submitted on March 31, 2017, QUNO’s Food & Sustainability and Peace and Disarmament Programmes, emphasize the importance of agricultural biodiversity, small-scale farmers, and informal seed systems, in particular in humanitarian contexts: “In supporting informal seed markets and small-scale farmers and promoting agricultural biodiversity, emergency seed aid can provide an effective link between relief and sustainable development and sustaining peace and should be considered a routine complement to food aid during periods of crises. By reducing reliance on food assistance and food aid, which have the potential to disrupt local markets and by investing in people and the existing social and economic networks and the plant genetic resources they manage, the humanitarian food response system can become more adaptive.”  

QUNO highlighted that resilience is central to any sustained response to food insecurity in crises or crises-prone situations and small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity are central to resilience. Therefore, thoughtful and targeted rehabilitation is necessary to build and consolidate peace while contributing to food security and rural development after a humanitarian crisis has subsided. 

Related Files

Related Areas of Work

March 2017

QUNO Submits Written Input to the Berlin Charter on Rural Development and Food Security

In March, Susan H. Bragdon and Nora Meier submitted a written contribution to the Berlin Charter on rural development and food security.

The Federal German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has invited an international group of high-level experts to elaborate a document on rural development (Berlin Charter), which will be presented as an input to the BMZ International Conference on Rural Development entitled One Hunger, Future of the Rural World. This conference will be held in Berlin on April 27-28, 2017.

The Berlin Charter highlights major global trends, challenges and in particular arising opportunities for rural areas. Its aim is to portray a modern and innovation-driven development vision of the rural world, closing with a call for action to the international development community. The Charter is intended to motivate decision-makers to step up to support rural development. More broadly, the Charter is supposed to serve as a roadmap and an inspiration and finally as a reminder of how important rural development is for achieving sustainable global development.

The BMZ opened up the process of the finalization of the text of the Berlin Charter. QUNO welcomed this opportunity to provide input on the Charter’s text and commented on the potential of the Sustainable Development Goals to provide for a more integrated and inclusive approach to rural development. QUNO appreciated the focus of the Charter on youth as agents of change, however, Programme Assistant Nora Meier, also emphasized the importance of another agent of change to be added to the Charter – small-scale farmers. Support for the latter is particularly important in the context of rural development and the need to make rural life and the activities of small-scale farmers an attractive option to youth.

Related Links

Related Files

Related Areas of Work