Timeline

Food & Sustainability

We promote informed and balanced discussion about what agricultural systems are best suited to different circumstances and needs.
April 2017

QUNO Food & Sustainability Programme Attended the ECE Regional Forum on Sustainable Development

On April 25, 2017, Food & Sustainability Programme Assistant Nora Meier attended the UNECE Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (RFSD). One day prior to that event, she also followed the preparatory civil society consultation at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, where she was able to connect with organizations from the region.

The RFSD followed up on and reviewed the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the UNECE region while focusing on practical value-added and peer learning. During the one-day event, states, civil society and the private sector shared policy solutions, best practices and challenges from their experiences in SDG implementation and helped identifying major regional and subregional trends. The meeting also convened three roundtables on national and local adaptation of SDGs; subregional cooperation for SDG implementation; and on data and monitoring.

In light of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) to be taking place in July in New York, QUNO was interested to learn about the progresses made and processes implemented, in particular as they relate to SDGs 1, 2, 3, 13, 15, and 16.  

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April 2017

QUNO is accepting applications for two 2017-18 Programme Assistant positions

Our Geneva office is now hiring two Programme Assistants (PAs) for September 2017 to August 2018.

This is an opportunity for those in sympathy with Quaker approaches and with an interest in international affairs and in international organizations. You would experience a range of international work, while working primarily as an assistant to QUNO's Representatives in their work on​ Human Rights & Refugees, and Climate Change and Peace.

For more information on the two PA positions, visit our PA page and download the complete job descriptions and application forms below. The deadline for applications is 1 May. Carefully read through the application instructions in the respective job descriptions and send your completed application form to the following email addresses:

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March 2017

QUNO’s Food & Sustainability Releases Three New Publications

Programme Representative Susan H. Bragdon authored three new publications, which were published in March 2017 and are now available online as well as in hard copy.

Are Small-scale Farmers at the Table? Reflections on Small-scale Farmers’ Participation in Global and National Decision-Making provides background and perspective on small-scale farmer representation in international discussions related to food and nutrition security, innovation, climate change, human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals; and makes six recommendations for how multilateral institutions that host negotiations or dialogues can encourage and facilitate the participation of small-scale farmers.

The Foundations of Food Security – Ensuring Support to Small-scale Farmers Managing Agricultural Biodiversity argues that 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 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. 

The Evolution of Rights and Responsibilities over Agricultural Biodiversity explores the concerns driving relevant international instruments with the goal of increasing the understanding needed to achieve coherence and mutual support. The paper 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

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

In November 2016, QUNO hosted an expert consultation on the role of the public sector in supporting small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity. Over 15 participants from around the world, representing a variety of professional backgrounds, convened to discuss how best to assist governments in determining their roles in ensuring food security and to develop tools for the public sector to create national food policies with small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity at their center. 

One of the outputs of this consultation is The Time is Ripe for Governments to Strengthen Sustainable and Food-Secure Farming, a call-to-action for the international community to mobilize resources for a more proactive role of the public sector in supporting small-scale farmers, their seed systems and the protection of agricultural biodiversity. Furthermore, the paper calls upon national governments to engage in consultation with small-scale farmers to identify what they require in order to effectively engage in activities to support the conversation and sustainable use of biodiversity and to achieve secure livelihoods.

QUNO would like to thank all the participants for their valuable contributions in making this collaborative effort possible. 

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March 2017

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

In March, QUNO submitted a written contribution to The Berlin Charter on rural development and food security that emphasized the importance of small-scale farmers as an agent of change. Support for small-scall farmers 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. The Federal German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) invited an international group of high-level experts to develop the The 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.

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March 2017

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

In March 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. Our Food & Sustainability and Peace and Disarmament programmes submitted a joint statement emphasizing the importance of agricultural biodiversity, small-scale farmers, and informal seed systems in humanitarian contexts. 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. The full statement is available below.

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March 2017

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

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.

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?”

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March 2017

QUNO Review March 2017 now available

Our new, March 2017 edition of the QUNO Review is now available for download. The publication 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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February 2017

QUNO Attends 33rd IGC on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore at WIPO

In February 2017, QUNO attended the opening of the 33rd session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva. While the last two sessions were concerned with Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge respectively, this week’s meeting will focus on Traditional Cultural Expressions (TCEs). In particular, the member states will be debating the development of an international legal framework to protect TCEs and will intend to narrow existing gaps and reach common understanding on core issues. This includes the continuing negotiations around policy objectives, beneficiaries, scope of protection, administration of rights, and exceptions and limitations.  

QUNO welcomes the opportunity to be part of this session and will continue to monitor the progress of the negotiations this week. It supports the statements made by the Chair and the Indigenous Caucus, which called on member states to contribute to the Voluntary Fund, which depends on voluntary contributions of member states, has been depleted since 2014. Therefore, the IGC has not been able to provide direct funding for representatives of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities to participate in the IGC sessions.

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February 2017

QUNO contributed to GAFSP Monitoring and Evaluation Plan

In February 2017, QUNO’s Food & Sustainability Programme was asked to contribute to the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) document, which is intended to serve as a reference to all Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) stakeholders. The updated plan will guide all new projects in the GAFSP portfolio going forward: on what is required at each stage of the project cycle, including applying and reporting against the GAFSP indicators. GAFSP emphasizes the role of monitoring and evaluation and learning on their website (see link below). Their M&E Plan reflects the strong results-oriented nature of GAFSP fund.

QUNO commends GAFSP for its transparency in seeking input from a wide range of interested parties at this early stage in developing its plan. In her written contribution submitted to the Working Group, Programme Representative Susan H. Bragdon voiced concern with “using [crop] yields as an indicator with no modifier […].”   Industrial agriculture may have increased the yield of some crops but this has come with high environmental costs. Susan therefore suggested “if increase in yields is an indicator, it needs to be yield per units of water and energy and environmental externalities” […], such as Greenhouse Gas emissions, soil erosion, and biodiversity loss. Furthermore, Susan emphasized the importance of including “impact on diversity grown and consumed […]” Susan noted this is of particular importance in light of dietary simplification being a cause of ‘hidden hunger’ and the nutrition transition that underpins obesity. Throughout the M&E report, Susan also highlighted the need to explicitly include agricultural biodiversity, in-situ and on-farm, as being critical to the long-term sustainability of any intervention for food and nutrition security.

QUNO is looking forward to the publication of the finalized report and welcomed the opportunity to contribute. 

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February 2017

QUNO contributes to CFS report on "Multistakeholder Partnerships"

During the 43rd Plenary Session in October 2016, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) requested that the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) produce a report on “Multistakeholder Partnerships to Finance and Improve Food Security and Nutrition in the Framework of the 2030 Agenda”. This report will be presented at the CFS 45 Plenary session in October 2018.

Before the report’s publication in the coming year, the expert panel has launched an ‘e-consultation’ process to gather views and comments on eight questions built around the scope and building blocks of the report, as proposed by the HLPE Steering Committee.

QUNO appreciates the opportunity to participate in the e-consultation and commented on the questions related to Multistakeholder Partnerships and the respective roles and responsibilities of public and private stakeholders and civil society in such partnerships and the questions relating to stakeholders and farmers’ participation.  

In particular, Programme Representative Susan Bragdon and Programme Assistant Nora Meier cautioned the HLPE to further study Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the area of food security before advocating for their use. While QUNO is emphasizing that “the issue is not pro-private sector and anti-public sector or vice versa,” it states that “it is about the appropriate roles and boundaries of each.” Therefore, first and foremost, there is a need for a better understanding of the role of the public sector, in particular as a provider of goods and services in food security as well as the role of the private sector in providing food security. In its statement, QUNO also asked to see “a reflection that governments play a critical, unique role in sustainable, national food systems and need to have both the space and capacity to act in the public interest.”

Furthermore, QUNO voiced their concern about the use of the term ‘stakeholder’ and the need to make sure that clear and rigorous definitions are understood and applied. In particular, “not every stakeholder has an equal stake” – for a small-scale farmer, decisions can be life and death, while for a corporation or company the “stake” may be in profits accrued or lost. 

Finally, QUNO commented on the need for farmer participation and stated that “we would therefore like the HPLE to consider the need to more experimentation, experience and information sharing on the practicalities of how to secure the input of highly diverse farmer groups, and in particular small-scale farmers.”

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January 2017

QUNO attends Global Donor Platform for Rural Development in Brussels

QUNO’s Food and Sustainability (F&S) programme representative Susan H. Bragdon attended the AGA this year to discuss the Agenda 2030 and how the new framework of global development priorities can be supported to achieve food and nutrition security for all.

Today, half the world’s food is produced by 1.5 billion small-scale farmers. However, while small-scale farmers contribute so much to global food security, they are often poor or very poor, and food insecure themselves. Of the hundreds of millions that go hungry daily (almost 1 billion), millions are rural, poor small-scale farmers. Decline in small-scale farmer livelihoods has increased rural-urban migration rates, as 54 percent of the world population now lives in urban areas, which is reducing food production and eroding food security (UNDESA, 2014).

QUNO therefore appreciated the opportunity to participate in the AGA, in particular in the discussions around the role of agriculture considering the new SDGs and the challenges of climate change as they relate to food security, small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity. 

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January 2017

QUNO Attended 16th Regular Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in Rome 30 January – 3 February 2017

QUNO’s Food and Sustainability (F&S) programme representative Susan H. Bragdon attended the 16th regular session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture at the FAO headquarters in Rome from 30 January to 3 February 2017. She closely followed the session, regional consultations, and side events as well as the one-day special event on the Contribution of Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture to Resilience.

The F&S programme team welcomed the opportunity to attend this event and was encouraged by the cross-sectorial work that has been done as well as by the reports and plans of action on plant genetic resources that have been produced.  

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November 2016

Expert Consultation on the Role of Government in Supporting Small-Scale Farmers and Agricultural Biodiversity

On November 6-8, 2016, the QUNO Food and Sustainability Programme hosted an expert consultation on the role of the public sector in supporting small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity at Chateau de Bossey, just outside of Geneva. 15 participants from around the world and representing a variety of professional backgrounds came together to discuss how to best help governments determine their roles in ensuring food security and to develop tools for them to create national food policies with small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity at their core.

While this consultation was only the beginning of a process with the long-term objective of achieving more just and sustainable food systems, the below documents were produced in preparation for the meeting as well as a result of the discussion held throughout. 

 

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November 2016

QUNO Attends 32nd IGC on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore at WIPO

On November 28, 2016, QUNO attended the opening day of the 32nd session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva. Some of the issues to be discussed during this week-long meeting will be around the development of an international legal framework to protect traditional knowledge, genetic resources and traditional cultural expressions. Member states will continue the negotiations around policy objectives, beneficiaries, scope of protection, rights holders, transparency, incorporation of customary law and complementary measures with the goal of narrowing the existing gaps on core issues.

Prior to today’s session, we also attended the Seminar on Intellectual Property and Traditional Knowledge (November 24-25), during which indigenous peoples and people from local communities from all around the world discussed, among other issues, the importance of the distinction between ‘sacred and secret and narrowly and widely diffused traditional knowledge’. The diverse set of speakers of the seminar included intellectual property attorneys, a member of the Maasai People of Kenya, and a member of the Kichwa/Kayambi Peoples of Ecuador, among others.

QUNO welcomed the opportunity to be part of both events and is looking forward to the outcomes of the sessions. QUNO supports the statements made by the Indigenous Caucus this morning to call on member states to continuously support the existence of the voluntary fund. This fund is essential in ensuring the participation of indigenous peoples and local communities in these negotiations, which in turn speaks for the legitimacy and credibility of the instrument to be developed. 

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November 2016

QUNO moderates for the FAO Event on Peace and Food Security

During Geneva Peace Week, QUNO representative Diane Hendrick moderated an event for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on “Contributions to peacebuilding and prevention:  Agriculture and food security perspectives”. The event was an opportunity to for participants with peacebuilding and/or agricultural backgrounds to explore the linkages between agriculture and food security and sustainable peace, which largely remain as separate areas of work.

The panelists discussed the linkages between sustaining peace, food security and agriculture at both system level and on the ground bringing an example of FAO work in South Sudan. The discussion highlighted the importance of protecting and investing in rural livelihoods and sustainable food security before, during and after conflict as this can play an important role in peacebuilding processes.

Below are links to relevant FAO publications. The GreeNTD document illustrates the FAO’s practical work in improving resilience of livelihoods and land disputes in DRC, and the Peace and Food Security paper provides a broader understanding of investing in agriculture for sustainable peace with interesting facts.

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November 2016

QUNO hosted consultation on the role of governments in supporting small-scale farmers and and agricultural biodiversity

QUNO hosted an expert consultation on the role of governments in supporting small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity on November 6-8. In this excerpt from the latest Geneva Reporter newsletter, our Food & Sustainability Representative Susan Bragdon discusses the event.

 

Can you tell our readers about your upcoming event? Who will be participating? 

We are bringing together small-scale farmer organizations, economists and experts in public administration—people who don’t commonly sit at the same table—to discuss the role of governments in supporting small-scale farmers, agricultural biological diversity and ensuring the long-term food security of their populations. We will have small-scale farmers from Bolivia, Cuba, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Peru, the Philippines, Senegal and Zimbabwe in attendance. We have an economist from India who has been exploring these issues around health and agriculture for a couple of decades. We will have experts in public administration, in food system policy and in public-private partnerships. This wonderful mix of disciplines and geographies should yield interesting insights and results. 

What are your expectations for the consultation? 

This consultation is an attempt to challenge the dominant narrative that orients us to markets. We’re going to develop a strategy for raising awareness among national and international policy makers of the importance of small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity, and develop tools for helping governments determine what their roles should be in ensuring food security. Of course, every country is different and food security strategies must be tailored accordingly. This consultation is just the start. We need to keep this conversation going—asking critical questions and bringing together different perspectives—with the long term objective of achieving more just and sustainable food systems. 

We thank all the participants for joining us in this event and are looking forward to moving these discussions along. Next step will be the release of an agreed upon statement on the actions we think government should take in support of small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity.

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November 2016

Read QUNO's latest Geneva Reporter newsletter

QUNO's November 2016 issue of the Geneva Reporter newsletter is now available online. The latest issue features: an interview with our Food & Sustainability Representative on her upcoming expert consultation on the role of governments in supporting small-scale farmers and ensuring food security, a report on the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, news about our inequality side-event during Geneva Peace Week, and a QUNO Q&A  with 2016 Geneva Summer School participant Ayah Abubasheer.

The newsletter also includes a one-page insert featuring QUNO's perspective on the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The full publication is available below.

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October 2016

QUNO Attended Symposium on UPOV and ITPGRFA

On October 26, 2016, QUNO attended a joint symposium on possible interrelations between the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) and the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV Convention). 

The issue of interrelations between the ITPGRFA and the UPOV Conventions in the context of Farmers’ Rights was raised at the ITPGRFA Governing Body in 2013 in Oman. Resolution 8/2013 on “Implementation of Article 9, Farmers’ Rights” requested the Treaty Secretariat “to invite UPOV and WIPO to jointly identify possible areas of interrelations among their respective international instruments”. This was in response to concerns that the activities of UPOV and WIPO undermine implementation of Article 9 of the ITPGRFA, which concerns “Farmers’ Rights. One key concern is that UPOV, in particular its Act of 1991, places severe restrictions on the right of farmers to save, use, exchange and sell seeds.

QUNO attended this symposium with a special interest in the discussion on reconciling farmers and plant breeders rights and on strengthening farmers’ seeds systems. Farmers' seed systems provide more than 80 percent of the total food crop seeds used by farmers. In other words, seed security leads to food security. These systems are also the main channel through which small-scale farmers can access new improved variety of seeds from the formal section. 

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October 2016

QUNO Co-Hosted Side Event at Committee on World Food Security in Rome

On October 20, 2016, QUNO and the Swiss Agency for Development and Coordination (SDC) co-hosted a panel discussion on Who Will and How Will We Feed Humanity at the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) 43 in Rome. The co-head of SDC’s global food security program, Manuel Flury, opened the side event. It was the first time in the agency’s history that the SDC co-hosted a side event at CFS with a Civil Society Organization (CSO). The panel speakers included Pat Mooney (ETC), Nichola Dyer (GAFSP), Juan Gonzalez-Valero (Syngenta), Netty Wiebe of La Via Campesina and Susan Bragdon as a moderator.

The panelists were asked to discuss two countries A and B based on previously sent out key characteristics. The two questions that guided the discussion were how their organizations would contribute to the food security situation in each country and what they believed the role of the public sector was in each of the country in terms of ensuring food and nutrition security. The event was very well received and several people commented on the diverse panel that provided for an excellent opportunity to bring together different actors to discuss their perspectives. 

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