Network of Rural and Agrarian Studies Conference

I have been asked to share this call for papers with readers of this blog. Happy submitting!

The Fifth Annual National Conference of Network of Rural and Agrarian Studies (NRAS) will be held during 27-29 October, 2017 at the Nabakrushna Choudhury Centre for Development Studies, Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

The theme of the conference is ‘Agrarian Transition’ and Rural­‐Urban Linkages in India in the Twenty-first Century’.

The conference is now open for paper submissions. Please see the detailed Concept Note  and Call for Papers below.

Papers for the Conference can be submitted through easychair.org.

For regular updates on the conference please visit and bookmark the Conference Blog.

CFS Engagement in 2030 Agenda and its Thematic Reviews

By Martin Herren and Sonja Tschirren, Biovision 

This entry is part of a special series of blog posts about the UN’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS): The Future of the CFS? Collectively reflecting on the directions of UN’s most inclusive body. Read more about this project here.

With this post we continue with the fourth thematic cluster: “Emerging Issues at the CFS: How are they being addressed?”.  In what follows Martin Herren and Sonja Tschirren from Biovision provide their analysis of why the CFS should be more actively engaging in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

This is not an exclusive project. If you would like to participate, please let us know: foodsecuresolutions@gmail.com

sdg

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has considerably changed the landscape in which our work for increased sustainability of food systems evolves. Countries have started to gear their policy planning towards the Agenda’s targets and international agencies and platforms will provide support. Despite existing reservations towards the 2030 Agenda  and its design, Committee on World Food Security (CFS) stakeholders decided to engage in this process. Since this remains contested, in this blog entry we look at the potentials and challenges that the CFS might face when engaging in this new agenda. Given the fact that member states have actually embarked on this journey, we propose that the CFS should not engage half-heartedly in this new process and may have to look into options how to become more innovative to match the new Agenda’s setting with CFS mandate.

The CFS and HLPF, a good match?

In view of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF), intergovernmental bodies and forums, such as the CFS, will have an active role in supporting the thematic review of the implementation of Agenda 2030. In the Agenda 2030, paragraph 24, heads of governments reaffirm “the important role and inclusive nature of the Committee on World Food Security and welcome the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and Framework for Action.”

But what would a meaningful thematic review be? And in a more strategic perspective: could the 2030 Agenda be an opportunity for the CFS to position itself as a valuable player in the achievement of SDG 2 and related goals? The CFS is by mandate tasked to support global policy coordination, policy convergence and provide advice to member states on issues of food security and sustainable agriculture. That includes fostering the broad adoption of intergovernmentally negotiated CFS products (such as the Voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in the context of national food security  or Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems) guiding countries towards SDG 2. In this regard, a thematic review that discusses the progress on the uptake of these products by governments and the other stakeholder groups is certainly a valuable contribution to the HLPF.

Beyond such an important and obvious contribution to the HLPF review however, we would note that the 2030 Agenda and the review process via the HLPF provide room for interpretation regarding what a meaningful contribution by the foremost inclusive intergovernmental platform on questions of food and agriculture to the agenda could be. CFS stakeholders – especially member states – need to further gauge and deliberate this question. If they don’t, they could miss their return on investment they made so far in the CFS, leaving room for other competing organizations and stakeholder groups to define the food systems of the future, with virtually no coherence or convergence for member states to build on.

In the meantime, we could think a bit out of the box and come-up with a few thoughts on current and possible activities of the CFS to support the achievement of SDG2 and related goals.

Convergence of the Agendas Continue reading “CFS Engagement in 2030 Agenda and its Thematic Reviews”

Wageningen University Teacher of the Year Nominee #1: Jessica Duncan

I am very honoured to have made the short list for Teacher of Year 🙂

Rural Sociology Wageningen University

The first contender for the annual award of the University Fund Wageningen (UFW) is, according to the jury, a lecturer who is to be praised for her enthusiasm and audacity. Someone who is not afraid to tackle her lectures in a different way and is always open to feedback on her methods.

At the Rural Sociology Group we are very proud that Jessica Duncan is one of the six nominees for the Teacher of the Year award. The official ceremony in which the Teacher of the Year Award 2017 will be handed out is on April 6, 2017.

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Gender & Diversity in Sustainable Development

Excited to be teaching in this course in May. Registration is now open!

Rural Sociology Wageningen University

PhD Course Gender and Diversity

Wageningen University’s School of Social Sciences  (WASS) will be offering a PhD course in May and June 2017 called Gender and Diversity in Sustainable Development.  Bettina Bock and Jessica Duncan, both from RSO, will lecture in this course.

Date Mon 22 May 2017 until Fri 16 June 2017
Time 09:30
Venue Leeuwenborch, building number 201
Hollandseweg 1
201
6706 KN
Wageningen
0317-483639

Inequality lies at the center of current debates about sustainable development, from which a number of policy issues, including Sustainable Development Goals, emanate. Yet, how social (in)equality contributes to creating sustainable development often remains invisible in research. This course enables participants to recognize linkages between gender and diversity and sustainable development in a contemporary globalising world.

The topics covered in this course are:

  • Introduction: key concepts in gender studies
  • Trends form a historical perspective
  • Economics: macro and micro perspectives
  • Work and care
  • Population and migration
  • Food…

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Is there space for innovation (and technology) in the CFS?

By Allison Loconto

 This entry is part of a special series of blog posts about the UN’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS): The Future of the CFS? Collectively reflecting on the directions of UN’s most inclusive body. Read more about this project here.

Today we continue with our fourth thematic cluster: “Emerging Issues at the CFS: How are they being addressed?”.  In this post, Allison Loconto reflects on the politics of knowledge and techniques within in the CFS and in turn, how these contribute to food security.She acknowledges that frank debate about innovation and technology for sustainable agriculture and food security are not yet high on the CFS agenda, but that the CFS could become a mechanism to provide guidance on these questions as the global community begins to tackle them.

This is not an exclusive project. If you would like to participate, please let us know: foodsecuresolutions@gmail.com

 

Loconto pic.jpeg

Each of us attending the 43rd session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) this year came to the meetings with a different learning/research objective. For me, this year, I was interested in following a topic that was not a clear priority for the negotiations, but nonetheless kept popping up throughout the discussions: technology and innovation.

For someone who is quite interested in how knowledge about techniques (another way of thinking about technology) circulates, the 43rd CFS offered an interesting arena for understanding how politics around knowledge and techniques are contributing to broader questions of food security.

Throughout the week, technology could be found as a silent undercurrent that upholds specific positions in the political debates around trade and agricultural policy. For example, the strong anti-GMO position taken by civil society within the organic and agroecology movements is often countered by a strong private sector call for ‘science’ and public sector promotion of ‘productivism’ where the sole objective and value of agriculture for food security is reducing the yield gap. The latter position is part and parcel of the conventional wisdom about the need to modernize agriculture.

In the opening plenary session, the representative from South Sudan summed up this position saying: “We need to inject technology and information into our systems”, the representative from Nigeria likewise stated that their cows are only producing 1 litre of milk per day and “the will of the people is to increase their production – but the challenges are so deep they cannot [access technology]”,  while the Chinese representative stated very clearly that they are strongly committed to linking together agricultural modernization, industrialization and information technology.

This idea that technology and information can be injected like medicine into the arm of a sick patient and will solve systemic problems of food security and development both ignores processes of innovation that can explain how technology becomes useful (and thus widely used) and how information must be turned into different forms of knowledge that are actionable (Gorman, 2002).

There is an assumed linear path for innovation that begins with invention, follows through technology and product development and design, and ends with commercialization. Following this logic, individual scientists and companies invent (the latest EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard figures show the more than 50% of R&D spending in the Agriculture and Food sectors come from private investment), with state investment through R&D funding (and protection of patent registration).

The private sector commercializes and develops products. The public sector distributes the benefits to all people (to prevent poverty), extension diffuses the new technologies and more broadly, the State manages environmental and social impacts of technology and innovation. Here, civil society is a watchdog that calls out bad technologies or bad practices while the majority of the people are consumers, producers, employees and voters (but not innovators).

However, there is significant evidence of innovation as multi-actor networked paths, rather than linear paths. A number of scholars have differently named these phenomena where innovation has become a collective endeavor (Van de Ven, 1999), with inventors and users collaborating and sharing ideas and information. These have been referred to alternatively as user innovation (Von Hippel, 1976); co-inventor networks (Breschi and Malerba, 2005); open innovation (Chesbrough, 2003); open source (Raymond, 2001); participatory design (Schuler and Namioka, 1993); community innovation (van Oost et al., 2009); upstream engagement (Macnaghten et al., 2005); mid-stream modulation (Fisher et al., 2006); Constructive Technology Assessment (Rip et al., 1995); cooperative research (Kleinknecht and Reijnen, 1992); democratising innovation (von Hippel, 2005; Felt et al., 2007); responsible innovation (Guston, 2006); responsible research and innovation (Von Schomberg, 2013; Stilgoe et al.); social innovation (Stirling, 2008); and grassroots innovation (Smith and Seyfang, 2013).

Therefore, “innovation is not simply a technology (or a technical object), it must be the reorganization of institutions, organizations, value chains, and businesses to enable actors to innovate on their own terms” (Felt et al., 2007). This means that innovation is not a new technology, but a new way of doing things. Thus, if innovation is a collective reorganization of systems, can we not also consider it to be innovative uses of old technologies, new combinations of traditional knowledge and techniques or perhaps the discontinuation of some technologies that have not become useful to many people?

These alternative ideas about innovation were highlighted during the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation CFS side event entitled ‘Who Will and How Will We Feed Humanity’. A panel of four speakers, representing the private sector (Syngenta), civil society (ETC Group) and farmers (Via Campesina) and a donor (GAFSP), tried to find complementarity between contrasting approaches to achieving food security and nutrition.

The motivation for this side event was precisely that discussions around how to achieve food security and nutrition and the related SDG targets are often polarized, with core challenges being framed based on an ideology or perspective (such as modernization, or productivity). As we know from theories of the performativity (Callon, 2010), different framings can lead to different and sometimes contrasting approaches to solving them. This is one of the reasons why this panel discussion was so interesting. We got to confront face to face these different framings of a single (hypothetical) problem of constraints on food security in two countries.

Continue reading “Is there space for innovation (and technology) in the CFS?”

Winds of change, or more of the same? Urbanization and rural transformation in the context of emerging global initiatives

By Alison Blay-Palmer

 This entry is part of a special series of blog posts about the UN’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS): The Future of the CFS? Collectively reflecting on the directions of UN’s most inclusive body. Read more about this project here.

Today we continue with our fourth thematic cluster: “Emerging Issues at the CFS: How are they being addressed?”.  In this post, Alison Blay-Palmer reflects on opening at the international level for discussing food with an increasingly regional and sustainability focus. She questions whether emerging initiatives call into question the capacity of the CSM and its constituent groups to achieve its mandate on the Right to Food.

This is not an exclusive project. If you would like to participate, please let us know: foodsecuresolutions@gmail.com

nua

I offer the following comments as a new observer of the CFS process. I attended CFS 42 (2015) and then 43 (2016), and participate in the Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) meetings for the SDGs and Urban and Rural Transformation.

The food spaces within and between rural and urban communities are simultaneously interconnected and contested in part due to increasing distances between smallholder producers who provide most of the world’s food, and urban eaters who are now in the majority and increasing in numbers.

In opposition to the globalization and industrialization that creates these rifts in our food system, and in tandem with increased explicit attention to urban-rural linkages by the CFS, recently launched initiatives such as the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP),  New Urban Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals and the City-Region Food System project offer local pathways to more coherent regional sustainable food systems and increased capacity for urban and rural transformation that respects the Right to Food.

Nevertheless, being outside of CFS debate, these initiatives might call into question the capacity of the CSM and its constituent groups to engage based on:

  1. inadequate funding for the CFS,
  2. a lack of joined-up policy; and;
  3. the threat to agro-ecological farming systems from high technology.

The MUFPP, launched in 2015, now has 133 signatory cities that together include more than 460 million people. The Pact draws direct connections between rural and urban communities “Recognizing that family farmers and smallholder food producers, (notably women producers in many countries) play a key role in feeding cities and their territories, by helping to maintain resilient, equitable, culturally appropriate food systems; and that reorienting food systems and value chains for sustainable diets is a means to reconnect consumers with both rural and urban producers” (MUFPP 2015: 1).

Enhanced direct links between producers and consumers offer the potential for better market opportunities for smallholder farmers and improved access to nutritional food for the urban food insecure. This level of integration is also key to addressing the 2030 Agenda goals. For example, the Report of the UN Secretary General titled ‘Agricultural development, food security and nutrition’ (2016) points to SDG 2 (zero hunger) that addresses food and nutrition security and its interconnections with production considerations including soil quality (Goal 15), water quality and availability (Goal 6), climate (Goal 13), gender equality (Goal 5) and production and consumption patterns (Goal 12).

While developed as an international initiative through UN-Habitat, the New Urban Agenda looks to integrate ‘urban and territorial planning’ to end hunger and malnutrition by making local food supply-consumption loops less wasteful and more affordable, coordinating policy at the food-energy-water-health-transportation-waste nexus, and conserving genetic (and presumably, though not explicitly) biodiversity. Paragraph 123 of the Agenda states:

 “We [Heads of State and Government, Ministers and High Representatives] will promote the integration of food security and the nutritional needs of urban residents, particularly the urban poor, in urban and territorial planning, to end hunger and malnutrition. We will promote coordination of sustainable food security and agriculture policies across urban, peri-urban and rural areas to facilitate the production, storage, transport and marketing of food to consumers in adequate and affordable ways to reduce food losses and prevent and reuse food waste. We will further promote the coordination of food policies with energy, water, health, transport and waste policies, maintain the genetic diversity of seeds and reduce the use of hazardous chemicals, and implement other policies in urban areas to maximize efficiencies and minimize waste.”

Continue reading “Winds of change, or more of the same? Urbanization and rural transformation in the context of emerging global initiatives”