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.

Videos

Legalising local cheese-making in Brazil

Our Senior Research Fellow Dr Adriana Bessa was involved in this Pilot Transformative Action in Brazil to promote discussions with different sectors of society about food safety standards and traditions in the context of the right to food and food sustainability.

Can Research Contribute to Community Empowerment? – Farmers’ Feedback/Community Voices

Our Senior Research Fellow Dr Adriana Bessa has been involved in this Pilot Transformative Action in kenya, which contributed to improving farmers' enjoyment of food security and the right to food.

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

Cover of the publication

THE RIGHT TO SEEDS AND FOOD SYSTEMS

August 2020

Adriana Bessa and Katyussa Veiga

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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The Normative Dimension of Food Sustainability

2019

Adriana Bessa

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

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Cover of the article

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

Woman holding a candelnut News

The Recognition of the Right to Seeds is Key to Ensure Sustainable Food Systems

August 2020

Our new Research Brief identifies international legal standards that should be taken into account by law- and policy-makers when developing normative and policy frameworks governing seeds and food systems.

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Portrait of Adriana Bessa News

Meet our Researchers: Adriana Bessa

March 2020

Dr Adriana Bessa is a Senior Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy. She is involved in research projects dealing with the right to food and the sustainability of food systems, and the rights of peasants. She also coordinates a training course on the protection of human rights and the environment.

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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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MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Woman holding a candelnut News

The Recognition of the Right to Seeds is Key to Ensure Sustainable Food Systems

August 2020

Our new Research Brief identifies international legal standards that should be taken into account by law- and policy-makers when developing normative and policy frameworks governing seeds and food systems.

Read more

Aerial view of the Palais Federal in Bern News

The Role of Switzerland’s Foreign Policy in the Implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants

August 2020

Our new Research Brief lists actions that countries should take to ensure that their foreign policy is consistent with the United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas, adopted by the United Nations in 2018.

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Small irrigation system with polluted water in N’Zerekore, Guinea Training

The Protection of Human Rights and the Environment

23- November 2020

This training course provides participants with a deep understanding of the international legal framework for the protection of human rights and the environment as well as in-depth knowledge of how to promote environmental protection through existing human rights mechanisms. The 2020 edition will have a specific focus on water pollution and scarcity.

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A farmer in her field, DRC Training

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants

7- December 2020

From its adoption to its content and implementation, this training course provides a comprehensive overview of the United Nations Declaration on the rights of peasants, as well as tools to protect and promote the rights of peasants, rural women, fisher, pastoralist and nomadic communities, as well as agricultural workers.

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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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Wheat field Project

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and the Protection of the Right to Seeds in Europe

Started in January 2018

The project will notably identify the main opportunities and obstacles to protect the right to seeds in Europe. It will also discuss how to promote changes in European laws, policies and trade agreements to ensure that they do not infringe, but facilitate the realization of peasants’ right to seeds.

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Cover of the publication Publication

Switzerland’s Foreign Policy and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants

published on August 2020

Christophe Golay, Caroline Dommen

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Cover page of the manual Publication

#ESCR AND #SDGs: Practical Manual on the Role of UN Human Rights Mechanisms in Monitoring the SDGs that Seek to Realize Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

published on July 2020

Christophe Golay

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