The role of local government in urban food security
Urban food security is an increasingly urgent priority in the face of climate change, rising food prices and growing urban populations. Most at risk are residents of low-income settlements within low- and middle-income countries. Increasing food production within urban areas has limited potential, but urban planning can play a major role by providing effective transport links, food storage facilities, adequate water and sanitation infrastructure and waste management. Local governments’ support to community-led initiatives to improve food access and safety can greatly reduce food insecurity, and contribute to greater resilience to the impacts of climate change.
Consent and conservation: getting the most from community protocols
A wealth of traditional crop varieties, medicinal plants and other genetic resources are under the care of indigenous people and local communities – who need legal rights to manage them. New legal backing comes from the 2010 Nagoya Protocol to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which requires prior informed consent for access to traditional knowledge and genetic resources, and calls for support of ‘community protocols’ that set out rules for access and benefit sharing. Community protocols are not just about indigenous rights: they clarify expectations for business and government, preserve irreplaceable biological resources, and support climate change adaptation and sustainable development. But to get these benefits, governments must back up the Nagoya Protocol with national laws and institutions, and support community-led participatory processes.
His REDD+, her REDD+: how integrating gender can improve readiness
To change the ways people use forested land, we need to ask questions about the roles of men, women and children. Nearly fifty countries have begun preparing for readiness to reduce emissions from land use and land use changes under the UN-REDD and Forest Carbon Partnership Facility processes. Because gender disparities profoundly shape agriculture and other land use, REDD+ readiness plans should not only avoid harming women and other marginalised groups, but actively seek to address their needs and harness their strengths. Different genders and generations play different roles in value chains for products that use – or conserve – forest resources. Analysing these value chains provides the data to improve interventions. But planners also need to consider gender differences in control of resources, knowledge, decision-making structures and distribution of benefits.
From ‘Fair ideas’ to mainstream change
At our pre-Rio conference, Fair ideas, we glimpsed a better future than sluggish international talks. This briefing reflects on lessons learnt from running the event and from sharing solutions for sustainable development with a wider circle of partners and participants.
Deep REDD+: lessons from a South–South– North collaboration
In a knowledge-sharing initiative on REDD+, Brazil and Mozambique joined forces to learn about fighting deforestation and forest degradation. This Reflect & Act looks at the key lessons learnt from the exchange.
Preparing parliament for the climate challenge in Ghana
Ghana has already begun to feel the impacts of climate change and needs strategies, tools and tactics to better respond to these at different levels. Parliamentarians here, as elsewhere, can play a vital role in ensuring appropriate climate-related policies. To do so they need more support to understand key issues and translate them from local to national to global levels and vice versa. But if MPs matter, so too do those working in parliamentary services. These support staff work across political cycles and can ensure the longevity of knowledge gains on climate change within parliament. This briefing explains that shaping more effective responses to climate change in Ghana requires the active engagement of MPs supported by their parliamentary service staff. Tailored capacity building efforts that address the different needs of both groups are required.
From aid to empowerment
This Reflect and Act article showcases IIED's work on participatory funding models. It highlights three projects that decentralise the decision-making processes within aid programmes and shows that when local groups allocate donor money, modest funds can catalyse major results.
Building sustainable supply chains: consumer choice or direct management?
Putting a ‘carbon label’ on products to show how much carbon dioxide is emitted during their production, transport and disposal has been heralded as a powerful route to sustainability within companies’ supply chains. Several leading firms have joined the Carbon Trust carbon labelling scheme over the past five years, including UK-based retail giant Tesco, which as early as 2007 promised to use carbon labels on all its products. But earlier this year, the multinational said it was dropping carbon labels and instead directly managing its supply chains. Many other companies are similarly choosing direct management over consumer choice as the most effective route to emission reductions. In so doing, they are shouldering greater responsibility for the emissions and impacts of their supply chains. But environmental concerns must not be allowed to trump development needs and companies must not unfairly disadvantage smaller-scale producers in developing countries.
Payments for coastal and marine ecosystem services: prospects and principles
Coastal and marine resources provide millions of impoverished people across the global South with livelihoods, and provide the world with a range of critical ‘ecosystem services’, from biodiversity and culture to carbon storage and flood protection. Yet across the world, these resources are fast-diminishing under the weight of pollution, land clearance, coastal development, overfishing, natural disasters and climate change. Traditional approaches to halt the decline focus on regulating against destructive practices, but to little effect. A more successful strategy could be to establish payments for ecosystem services (PES) schemes, or incorporate an element of PES in existing regulatory mechanisms. Examples from across the world suggest that PES can work to protect both livelihoods and environments. But to succeed, these schemes must be underpinned by robust research, clear property rights, equitable benefit sharing and sustainable finance.
Fair and sustainable food systems: from vicious cycles to virtuous circles
Modern industrial food, energy and water systems are fundamentally unsustainable. Their linear, and increasingly globalised, structure assumes that the Earth has an endless supply of natural resources at one end, and a limitless capacity to absorb waste and pollution at the other. Our continued reliance on these industrial systems is pushing the world into a vicious cycle of food shortages, climate chaos, famine and disaster. How can we transform our production models for food, energy and water to deliver lower ecological and social footprints? The answer lies in using circular models that mimic natural systems to reduce both external inputs and waste. Case studies from across the world show that circular production systems can and do work for sustainability and equity. But these remain largely isolated examples. Upscaling successful circular systems for food, energy, water and waste management requires policymakers to act on seven fronts.
Putting citizens at the heart of food system governance
Establishing inclusive governance of food systems – where farmers and other citizens play an active role in designing and implementing food and agricultural policies – is not just a matter of equity or social justice. Evidence shows that it can also lead to more sustainable livelihoods and environments. And yet, across the world, food system governance is marked by exclusionary processes that favour the values and interests of more powerful corporations, investors, big farmers and large research institutes. How can we tip the balance and amplify the voice and influence of marginalised citizens in setting the food and agricultural policies that affect them? This briefing describes six tried and tested ways that, when combined, can empower citizens in the governance of food systems.
View over 200 accessible and topical briefings, relevant to a range of readerships: