Resources for:

Food & Sustainability

November 2016

Trends in Public Sector Spending in Agriculture

This document provides a brief overview of the statistics and trends on the declining public sector support for agriculture - demonstrating that public sector investment in agriculture is growing at a much slower and more unpredictable rate than the private sector. The note served as a background report for the November 2016 Expert Consultation on the Role of the Public Sector in Supporting Small-Scale Farmers and Agricultural Biodiversity.

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November 2016

Challenges to Small-Scale Farmers and Agro-Biodiversity

This note highlights the importance of small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity in ensuring global food security. It also provides a brief overview of the threats the two are facing, such as economic threats and land and environmental threats. The documents served as background information for the Expert Consultation on the Role of the Public Sector in Supporting Small-Scale Farmers and Agricultural Biodiversity held in November 2016. 

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November 2016

The Small-Scale Farmer and Agricultural Biodiversity Dialogue to Action Series

This concept note served as a background document for the Expert Consultation on the Role of the Public Sector in Supporting Small-Scale Farmers and Agricultural Biodiversity held in November 2016. This global consultation was the first one in the Dialogue to Action Series (DtA Series). 

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November 2016

Government Means of Supporting Small-Scale Farmers and Agricultural Biodiversity

This document presents some examples of government means of supporting small-scale farmers in agro-biodiverse settings. It is an overview of a range of options that we have seen national governments using. There also are clear overlaps and relationships among the measures discussed. The document served as a background report for the November 2016 Expert Consultation on the Role of the Public Sector in Supporting Small-Scale Farmers and Agricultural Biodiversity. 

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September 2016

Written Statement to WIPO IGC Session 31

FWCC/QUNO submitted a written statement to the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore at its 31st session. The statement, submitted on September 22, 2016, calls upon the IGC and those who take part in it to encourage the participation of small-scale farmers, whether or not they identify themselves as Indigenous. 

Read the statement by following the link below.

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September 2016

Contribution to Special Rapporteur John Knox's Report

On September 30, 2016, QUNO submitted a contribution to Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, John Knox’s upcoming report on biodiversity and human rights. In its contribution, QUNO focuses on the application of a human rights approach to agricultural biodiversity and calls upon Mr. Knox to consider including agricultural biodiversity in his report to be released in March 2017. 

Read the contribution by following the link below.

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June 2016

Policy brief: The relationship between intellectual property rights and small-scale farmer innovation

The relationship between intellectual property (IP) and small-scale farmer innovation is far from straightforward. The majority of innovation in agriculture is not driven by the promise of exclusionary rights that some IP tools afford — it takes place on the farm and is a collaborative and incremental process, the outcomes of which cannot be attributed to individual rights holders.

However some IP tools – when carefully selected and adapted to suit domestic circumstances – may have the potential to help drive small-scale farmer innovation or, at minimum, allow the space for it to occur unimpeded.

This paper discusses how alternative or sui generis plant variety protection systems, collective and certification trademarks, and geographical indications may encourage on-farm innovation.

On the other hand, IP tools that are more conventionally believed to incentivise innovation in agriculture (i.e. patents, UPOV-style plant variety protection systems, and less commonly trade secrets) have the potential to impede on-farm innovation.

Policy makers at the national level should take into account the value of small-scale farmer innovation for national and global food security when developing national food security strategies, and take advantage of the flexibilities allowed under the WTO TRIPS Agreement when implementing IP legislation that reflects the realities of domestic agricultural sectors.

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June 2016

Farmers' Rights Consultation - Summary Report

This outcome document summarizes a consultation QUNO hosted, in conjunction with the secretariat of the International Treaty (ITPGRFA), examining progress and challenges in domestic implementation of Article 9 - the section on Farmers' Rights. This summary report was submitted to the Global Consultation on Farmers' Rights being held in September in Bali, Indonesia.

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April 2016

Access to seeds: lessons from the access to medicines debate

The history and dynamics of the access to medicines debate provide a number of reflections 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.

Three lessons stand out in particular.

  1. The process that led to the Declaration highlights the significance of global public opinion in shaping negotiations, as well as the value of combining this with pragmatic coalition-building amongst states, NGOs and the media.
  2. Domestically, national governments should make creative use of TRIPS flexibilities. This has been done to bring down the cost of medicines in numerous countries and should be emulated by governments wishing to protect farmers’ seed systems, which rely on experimentation, storage, exchange and re-use of seeds. ‘Access’ in this paper is taken to encompass these activities, rather than simply referring to the availability of new varieties developed by commercial breeders.
  3. There is an urgent need for sustained, productive collaboration between relevant multilateral institutions. Collaboration between the WHO, WTO and WIPO on access to medicines has facilitated a broader consideration of innovation. Similar engagement is necessary between the FAO, WTO, WIPO and others to clarify the complicated governance structure for plant genetic resources and ensure farmers’ continued access to seed.

Freely available for download below under Creative Commons license.

Author: 

  • Patrick Endall

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December 2015

Policy Brief: Small-scale farmer innovation

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.

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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

Geneva Reporter, December 2015

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 

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December 2015

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.

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November 2015

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 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:

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November 2015

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 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.

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October 2015

Small-scale Farmer Innovation Systems: Report on the First Expert Consultation 26-27 May 2015 Chateau de Bossey, Switzerland

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

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 free by clicking on the link below.

Languages: English, French, Spanish, Chinese

Author: 

  • Chelsea Smith
  • David Elliott
  • Susan H. Bragdon

Languages: 

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March 2015

Oral Statement on the role of Small Scale Farmers and the Right to Food at the 28th session of the HRC

QUNO delivered an oral statement in the 28th session of the Human Rights Council at the Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food and the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing. Susan BragdonRepresentive for our Food & Sustainability programme delivered the statement in response to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Hilal Elver.

Text and video (beginning at 00:32:57) of the statement is available below.

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