Political Dialogue and Advocacy

Advocacy on the global stage

The Biovision “Political Dialogue and Advocacy” team is active internationally calling for changes to the political framework in favour of smallholders and sustainable food systems.

The role of the Advocacy Team is to promote sustainable agriculture throughout the world. Since 2012 and as part of the project “Changing Course in Global Agriculture”, it has championed the interests of smallholders in Africa at international conferences and in discussions with politicians and government officials. Supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the UN organisation IFAD and several other foundations, the team first had to make African governments more aware of the need for sustainable food systems. Subsequently, Biovision helped governments, who had expressed an interest, identify whether their agricultural policies were sustainable or not. It was then a case of adapting those policies to take greater account of ecological, social and economic factors. It sounds easier than it actually was. “We had to find countries and government departments who actually planned for the longer term and wanted to demonstrate their resilience to fluctuating political and financial conditions,” says Stefanie Pondini from the Advocacy Team.

Initial success in Senegal and Kenya

The Senegalese Ministry for Finance and Policy Planning and the Kenyan Ministry for Agriculture together with representatives from civil society and farmers in both countries have been working with Biovision for several years and both government departments have made financial contributions to the project “Changing Course in Global Agriculture”. They have also allowed their specialists to be trained in systematic and sustainable policy planning. Of particular importance has been the democratic process adopted by the project; this has allowed the very diverse opinions on the direction of future food systems to be aired openly. The smallholders involved appreciate this involvement. They see it as a mark of respect and treat official invitations to meetings like precious commodities – evidence that things will not be decided in future without the involvement of farmers.

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