Enabling policy environments around the world

Globally, decision makers increasingly seek viable solutions for sustainable policies. A new platform launched in 2020 offers them what they are looking for – and more!

By Martin Grossenbacher, Biovision 

Sustainable agriculture and food systems play a prominent role on today’s political agenda because of their important impact on health, livelihoods and the environment. Policy makers are increasingly interested in learning how to provide the required framework for this in their national and local settings. In October 2020, Biovision launched a platform tailored to these needs, with the support of Switzerland and Germany. Our “Food Policy Forum for Change” offers interested actors the opportunity to learn more about success stories of sustainable food system transformation and to exchange experiences among peers. “It is the first platform to focus consistently on agroecological approaches”, says Project Manager Charlotte Pavageau, explaining the characteristics of the new project.

In the international spotlight

The COVID-19 crisis posed a particular challenge to the project. Activities had to be constantly adapted to changing conditions, and face-to-face meetings and field visits were not possible. However, Charlotte Pavageau also experienced a positive aspect: “The pandemic gave the discussion about a paradigm shift in the food system additional momentum, as the sustainability aspect has now become more central.” To publicise the newly created platform, the networks of organisations involved in the project* were mobilised and the initiative was presented at several virtual events. The most important of these was the presentation at the annual conference of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), reaching key policy makers from around the world. This enabled attention to be successfully drawn to the new Biovision project and contact to be established with interested participants.  

Successful start after intense preparation 

For the purposes of the project, Biovision specifically created a new “policy champions” database, i.e. a collection of existing laws and regulations to promote agroecology at national and local level. These specific examples illustrate how agroecological principles can be applied in practice. In December, the first event with the members of the new community took place. Case studies from India, Uganda and Denmark, on policy instruments to link agroecological transformation with the development of markets for organic products, and ways to connect agroecological and integrated policies in times of crisis were discussed. “We were all aware that a community cannot be built overnight”, Charlotte Pavageau recalls the start of the project. “We were therefore very pleased with the great interest and the positive feedback after the launch”, she laughs with relief. By the end of 2020, the Food Policy Forum for Change already had 278 members from Africa, America, Asia and Europe; 147 of them are directly involved in shaping policy processes. 

(*IFOAM - Organics International, Millennium Institute, SDC, German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO))