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.

NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

Woman holding a candelnut News

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

31 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

12 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

4 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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RESEARCHERS

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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MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Guinea - Rural Women's Cooperative News

Towards a Feminist Methodology for Implementing the Right to Food in Agrarian Communities

10 September 2021

In an article published in The Journal of Peasant Studies, our Senior Research Fellow Dr Joanna Bourke Martignoni discusses – on the basis of research carried out at the Geneva Academy – the extent to which a feminist approach makes a difference to the realization of the rights to food, land, decent work, and social security.

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Rice farmers in India Event

Putting Peasants Rights Into Practice

10 December 2021, 09:15-15:15

This event will discuss proposals to guide Swiss governmental and civil society activities so that they implement the rights enshrined in UNDROP through their international engagement.

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Senegal, Ziguinchor area, Bignona Department, Kataba 1 municipality, Kouram village. A woman works in a vegetable garden as part of an economic security programme. Project

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

Started in February 2015

This six-year project aims to provide evidence-based knowledge for the formulation and promotion of innovative strategies and policy options that improve food sustainability.

Read more

NYU Stern BHR Knitwear Factory in Mymensingh Project

Business and Human Rights: Towards a Decade of Global Implementation

Started in July 2020

This project aims at supporting the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights' project for the 10th anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

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Cover page of the Briefing Publication

Practical Manual on the Right to Seeds in Europe

published on February 2021

Christophe Golay, Fulya Batur

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Cover page of the guide Publication

The Right to Land and the UNDROP

published on December 2020

Christophe Golay

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