Resources for:

Food & Sustainability

July 2017

Reinvigorating the Public Sector: The Case of Food Security, Small-Scale Farmers, Trade and Intellectual Property Rules

In this recently published paper in the Society for International Development (2017), QUNO’s Food & Sustainability Representative Susan H. Bragdon explores the two interlinked trends of using market-based solutions to end hunger and the weakening of the public sector in ensuring local and global food security. She argues that both of these phenomena play an important role in the creation of a modern food system that is harming the health of people and planet. Therefore, she calls upon governments to define and assert their appropriate roles in the protecting the public interest in food security and emphasizes the need for a revitalized public sector. 

Author: 

  • Susan H. Bragdon

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March 2017

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

On March 31, 2017, QUNO’s Food & Sustainability and Peace and Disarmament Programmes, submitted a joint contribution to Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Ms. Hilal Elver’s upcoming report on the Right to Food in humanitarian contexts. In its contribution, QUNO emphasizes the central role of small-scale farmers, agricultural biodiversity, and informal systems for resilience and ultimately for making the humanitarian food response system more adaptive.  

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March 2017

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

On March 31, 2017, QUNO’s Food & Sustainability Programme, submitted a written contribution to the Berlin Charter on rural development and food security. In its contribution, QUNO emphasizes, among other, the central role of small-scale farmers as agents of change and the opportunity of the Sustainable Development Goals to provide for an integrative approach to rural development. 

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March 2017

The Time is Ripe for Governments to Strengthen Sustainable and Food-Secure Farming

In March 2017, QUNO’s Food & Sustainability Programme published the call to action paper entitled The Time is Ripe for Governments to Strengthen Sustainable and Food-Secure Farming. This paper was written as a result of discussions held during an expert consultation in November 2016 on the role of the public sector in supporting small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity and is a product of contributions made by all participants. 

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March 2017

Are Small-scale Farmers at the Table? Reflections on Small-scale Farmers’ Participation in Global and National Decision-Making

This policy brief offers information on (1) small-scale farmer representation in international discussions related to food and nutrition security, innovation, climate change, human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals; on (2) the challenges in ensuring such representation; and on (3) the need for guidelines or lessons to help countries identify and ensure the full spectrum of small-scale farmer interests have an adequate and effective voice in negotiating processes and in project proposals. Finally, the brief concludes by making six recommendations for how multilateral institutions that host negotiations or dialogues can encourage and facilitate the participation of small-scale farmers. 

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March 2017

Foundations of Food Security – Ensuring Support to Small-scale Farmers Managing Agricultural Biodiversity

This paper, discusses the access and benefit-sharing (ABS) agreements established by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, the Convention on Biological Diversity, or the Nagoya Protocol. In doing so, Susan H. Bragdon argues that ABS regimes are, and will continue to be, insufficient for generating the benefit necessary to support the innovative activities of small-scale farmers in conserving, managing, and actively developing the majority of the world’s plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA). After a thorough discussion on why small-scale farmers and PGRFA on-farm and in situ are critical to food and nutrition security and to the resilience and sustainability of agricultural systems, she goes on to maintain that a rights-based approach supported by governments nationally and internationally open broader possibilities of predictable, stable support. She concludes by noting that increased private sector interest in agriculture and food systems is reason for equally vibrant governments acting in the public interest. 

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March 2017

The Evolution of Rights and Responsibilities over Agricultural Biodiversity

This publication explores the concerns driving relevant international instruments with the goal of increasing the understanding needed to achieve coherence and mutual support. Susan H. Bragdon notes the central role inequity plays both amongst the treaties and instruments discussed in this paper as well as in the broader international legal landscape that includes human rights and trade agreements. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals requires understanding of the broader context within which biological diversity related agreements are situated and the real or potential impacts resulting from the different legal regimes. The paper therefore concludes with suggestions on how to create a system that supports the critical role that agricultural biodiversity plays in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. 

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March 2017

QUNO submits written statments to the 34th session of the UN HRC

QUNO's Human Rights & Refugees, Food & Sustainability, and Peace & Disarmament programmes each submitted written statements to the 34th session of the Human Rights Council, held in Geneva in March 2017. The full statements are available in PDF below and further information on QUNO's participation at the 34th HRC can be found at the following links:

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March 2017

QUNO Review 2017

The March 2017 edition of our annual QUNO Review is now available for download. The annual report provides a brief introduction to QUNO and our way of working, as well as an overview of each of our programme areas. Learn more about our past year of our work and see where we are headed in 2017.

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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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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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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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