Towards Food Sustainability: Reshaping the Coexistence of Different Food Systems in South America and Africa

Started in February 2015

The convergence of the effects of the 2007–2008 global financial crisis, climate change and the growing demand for food and biofuels led to a sharp increase in global food prices, which have remained high ever since. Today, about 800 million people around the world suffer from hunger, and about 2 billion people lack the essential micronutrients they need to live healthy and active lives.

The reflexive response to increased demand for food and higher prices is to increase the productivity of food systems. However, there is growing consensus among agricultural scientists, economists, policy-makers and civil society groups that, on its own, greater production is not the solution to food crises. Global food policies need to be reframed to optimize food production, while also improving environmental sustainability and ensuring equitable social outcomes.

The Project

This six-year project, launched in 2015 and funded by the Research for Development Programme (r4d) of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, aims to provide evidence-based knowledge for the formulation and promotion of innovative strategies and policy options that improve food sustainability. This is composed of five interconnected pillars: food security, the right to food, the reduction of poverty and inequality, environmental integrity and social-ecological resilience.

The research results will be disseminated through social learning programmes with actors within food systems, governments, civil society organizations and other stakeholders; the promotion of policy dialogue and provision of training and information to academic audiences, farming communities, social movements, agribusiness, trade unions, public administration bodies and civil society organizations.

Coordinating the Legal Aspects of the Research

As a co-coordinator of this project – along with the Centre for Development and Environment at the University of Bern, Centre for Training and Integrated Research in Kenya and Comunidad Pluricultural Andino Amazónica para la Sustentabilidad (COMPAS) in Bolivia – the Geneva Academy supervises the legal aspects of the research in partnership with economists, political scientists, anthropologists and human geographers in Bolivia, Kenya and Switzerland. This includes the identification of treaties, laws and policies that have influenced food systems over the last 10–15 years, and their likely future impact.

In September 2015, the Geneva Academy organized a workshop on right to food indicators, which brought together researchers from this project and DEMETER, also co-coordinated by the Geneva Academy. The workshop examined ways of measuring the realization of the right to food in the four countries being studied by the projects (Bolivia, Cambodia, Ghana and Kenya). It was significant not only for its substantive findings, but also for the fact that it was the first time in the history of the food security r4d funding scheme that two projects have held a joint event. Collaboration and exchanges will continue throughout the lifetime of both projects.

RESEARCHERS

Picture of Adriana Bessa

Adriana Bessa

Senior Research Fellow

Adriana Bessa's research areas include the rights of traditional local communities, the draft declaration on the rights of peasants and the right to food.

Picture of Christophe Golay

Christophe Golay

Senior Research Fellow and Strategic Adviser on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Christophe Golay's expertise relates to economic, social and cultural rights, the right to food and the rights of peasants.

Publications

The Normative Dimension of Food Sustainability

2019

Adriana Bessa

Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern

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Human Rights and Food Sustainability

November 2018

Adriana Bessa

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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NEWS AND EVENTS

Ou Senior Research Fellow Dr Adriana Bessa with women smallholders in Kenya. News

Field Trips to Kenya and Brazil to Improve Food Sustainability and Food Systems on the Ground

February 2019

In the context of our research project on food sustainability and food systems, our Senior Research Fellow Dr Adriana Bessa carried out fieldwork in Kenya and Brazil to discuss the implementation of transformative pilot actions with local rural communities.

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A women in a field of corn News

Implementing International Human Rights Standards to Ensure Food Sustainability

December 2018

Our new Research Brief Human Rights and Food Sustainability identifies a number of international human rights standards that should be taken into account by law and policy makers when developing normative and policy frameworks governing food systems.

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Bangladesh, Southern Bangladesh, Chittagong Hill Tracts. Simapru used the ICRC grant to plant a rice field with her family. News

Two Major Research Projects on the Right to Food Renewed for Three Years

November 2017

Our two research projects on the right to food, funded by the Research for Development Programme (r4d) of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, have been renewed for three years.

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MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Rwanda, on the outskirts of Kigali, Wa-Jali. Jeanne Françoise, a young girl reunited two years ago with her grandmother by the ICRC, stands in a banana orchard near her house. Project

Development and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Started in January 2008

This project aims to raise awareness about the complementarity of human rights and development by analyzing the relationship between economic, social and cultural rights and global development goals, namely the Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000 and the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015.

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A woman worker at a construction site in India Project

Human Rights and Gender Equality in the Context of Business Activities

Started in June 2018

This project aims to support the UN working group’s consultation process and thus contribute the promotion and protection of human rights and gender equality in relation to the business sector via research on international human rights law and policy related to gender equality guarantees and their application to business activities, and the organization of a global conference in Geneva.

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