The German government is struggling to pass a supply chain law. It is intended to address violations of human rights, social and environmental standards. What would the consequences be for business? A double interview with Veselina Vasileva from GEPA and economics professor Andreas Freytag.
Veselina Vasileva is a policy officer in the Policy Department of the Fair Trade Company GEPA. The focus of her work at GEPA is on the needs and interests of smallholder farmers and trading partners, in order to represent them in Fair Trade vis-à-vis politicians in Germany and worldwide. Since 2011, Vasileva has been active in the areas of fair trade, business and human rights, sustainable public procurement and climate change.
Andreas Freytag is Professor of Economic Policy at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena. Among other things, he heads the Schumpeter Center for the Study of Social and Economic Change there. His research focuses on foreign economic and development policy issues, particularly with regard to southern Africa. Freytag is a founding member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Africa Association.
Prof. Freytag, what is wrong with due diligence obligations on human rights, environmental and social standards?
Prof. Andreas Freytag: Nothing. Of course, it is good that companies observe due diligence obligations. But what is the point of legally prescribing them? As far as I am concerned, nothing needs to be changed; so, the burden of proof lies with Ms Vasileva.
Veselina Vasileva: At the moment, German and internationally operating companies are not liable for human rights violations or violations of environmental and social requirements along supply chains as part of their business activities. It is time to level the playing field by introducing a law that recognises the efforts of companies that practice fair trade or have already initiated measures to conduct fair business. A supply chain law in Germany would also establish legal certainty and motivate German companies to make corresponding investments. Most of them only do that if their competitors are also encouraged to do so. Legal regulations can stimulate companies to implement human rights and environmental standards.
Do companies need these types of motivation? And if there is a due diligence obligation, why not a legally binding one?
Freytag: The question is which company would be subject to this law – certainly also which investors ...
Vasileva: We have 3.5 million companies in Germany, of which 3.1 million are small businesses with less than ten employees – all of them are not covered by this law. If the current proposal of the Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is applied to companies with 500 employees or more, it would affect 7000 companies in Germany.
Freytag: Well, an investor first complies with the rules of the host country. You are implying that this country has no rules. Why should we impose our legal system on other countries? That is paternalistic and top-down approach.
Vasileva: However, I would like to remind you of the trade system we are in. The global competitive situation and the lack of rule of law make it impossible for many developing countries to comply with international law. The list of fragile states that cannot provide for their citizens is long. The Supply Chain Act is based on internationally recognised human rights catalogues. In other words, it is not about paternalistic imposition of German law, but about supporting companies to comply with human rights along their supply chains – I do not think that we are asking for too much. It is about the gradual introduction of appropriate risk mitigation measures as part of their business operations without adding responsibility. Real life has shown for years that voluntary measures have not been sufficient to realise the self-evident.
Freytag: I do not see German companies failing to comply with human rights across the board because I simply do not have any evidence of that. The question is: What can entrepreneurs do, and where do they have access? They have access to it in the companies they run; and they are generally in favour of human rights. I also trust in the consumers. We can accomplish a lot without needing new rules. The state should help German companies become engaged and to do good. For example, this could be accomplished through more investment guarantees that could be issued more readily. These guarantees as well as export credits can be tied to proof of due diligence obligations. After all, companies want state funding and preferential treatment. By the way, problems of failed states are difficult to solve from outside, since their problems are mostly home-made. So what does that mean for the companies? Most of them are medium-sized, and they would be facing a bureaucratic mess if they were to guarantee the entire supply chain.
What is so complicated about that?
Freytag: Many of these medium-sized businesses produce goods with long supply chains, often involving up to 100 steps. Do you want to track them all to ensure that everything happens according to German standards?
Vasileva: Not according to German standards, but rather according to international law, such as the international human rights charter, the ILO core labour standards. As a representative of an SME, I can tell you that compliance with human and environmental rights is also possible for SMEs. I do not see any excessive demands at this point. German SMEs in particular are known for their outstanding quality, and they have a comprehensive quality management system. They know their supply chains and know exactly what happens within them. The principle of proportionality also applies here: The due diligence procedures to be implemented by companies should be proportional to their size and circumstances. In some cases, simple measures are already enough to remedy abuses in supply chains.
Freytag: It sounds as if German SMEs are violating human rights against their better judgement. That is not the case. That it why I think it is better to trust that something will be achieved through German involvement on the ground. We share the same goal.
Vasileva: I generally have a positive image of entrepreneurship and assume that companies want to do good. But the current economic setting is extremely unfair. Competition is very strong and price pressure is high. It is passed on to the weakest links along the supply chain. This setting makes it difficult for companies who want to do the right thing. It is a constant balancing act to comply with human rights and environmental standards in business, which, by the way, are not based on German law, but rather internationally defined standards. Therefore, we need legislation to motivate us and guide us in the right direction.
A law would not only motivate, but also punish in case of doubt.
Vasileva: It will not take effect overnight; the proposal by the BMAS and the BMZ stipulates a transitional period of three years. Under the Supply Chain Act, companies are only liable for their own fault and for foreseeable and avoidable damages. The risk-based approach applies. The idea is to first analyse and prioritise the most serious violations and develop proportionate measures to deal with them.
Freytag: I imagine it is very difficult for any company to track each step for each end product in that supply chain. This review process requires an incredible amount of effort.
Could companies work together on these reviews?
Freytag: They can definitely do that. But other issues are more important to me: The well-meaning state guiding people to do the right thing – that all sounds good. But does it reflect the realities of life for companies and local people? Will German companies possibly withdraw from these countries because they consider the risk to be too high? German companies are already hardly present in Africa. And if they stay away, others will come – from China, for example. The country is using its new Silk Road to exert influence: Chinese companies are spreading throughout Africa but also elsewhere, and they are not known for respecting human rights. Therefore, stricter rules in Germany would ultimately lead to more human rights violations there. It would be a law motivated by morality, but it should be rejected from the point of view of responsible ethics.
Is it likely that companies would pull out because of legal uncertainties?
Freytag: It raises concerns within the business community. I hear this argument over and over. And it is understandable.
Vasileva: Several studies show that other criteria mainly influence an investment decision, for example political instability or corruption.
Freytag: German companies motivate their direct investments primarily with market development. It is true that the willingness of German companies to take risks is lower than in other countries. A supply chain law would increase these local risks. Increasing risks means increasing marginal costs and decreasing willingness to invest.
Vasileva: How so?
Freytag: Because then there are more uncertainties in the following sense: Can I also unintentionally fail to comply with rules that I did not even know about and then get sued for it? There is a high risk for SMEs.
Vasileva: So far, there is no evidence that companies will actually withdraw completely from high-risk regions because of liability risks. Some are dependent on raw materials – e.g. cocoa and cobalt; others have already invested extensively in production sites. Large chocolate companies in particular are interested in finally restructuring their supply chains and avoiding child labour because of damage to their reputation. They are digging in their heels. A due diligence obligation law has been in place in France since 2017. Only very few lawsuits have been filed. No one would risk filing a lawsuit if it was not legally justified. Most human rights violations happen at the beginning of the supply chain, for example during the extraction of raw materials. Therefore, the focus has to be on the entire chain.
Are there potential risks that smallholders in African countries, for example, are displaced because they have problems meeting standards?
Vasileva: The law is not about immediately avoiding risks once they have been identified. Instead, the goal is to gradually introduce reasonable and appropriate measures and initiate a dialogue. If the identified risks cannot be solved by the companies alone, they can collaborate with trade unions and state institutions, for example through sectoral collective agreements. The idea of the law is not that contracts will then be terminated.
Freytag: But the 2019 draft of the law reads like a general indictment of German companies and a carte blanche for unfair practices associations to adopt a new business model. I have an alternative proposal on how we could address human rights violations at the beginning of supply chains: We need to change our trade policy. We need to ensure that more of the value added in supply chains is shifted to resource-rich countries. We still have a trade policy with a so-called tariff escalation. Tariffs and other trade barriers increase with the level of processing. Of course, companies and consumers want to get the raw materials to Germany as cheaply as possible, but they also want to protect our own processing. By the way, farmers in Africa are regularly exploited by local middlemen – no matter how much we pay for cocoa and coffee, it will not reach the farmers. But it would be better if the coffee was roasted in Africa and the chocolate produced in Africa. If we eventually want to allow this, the trade policy of the OECD countries must change, even if it has already improved in recent years.
Vasileva: We are on the same boat. There are several levers we can use to prevent human rights abuses in global supply chains. A Supply Chain Act is one step in that direction. And there are many other approaches that need to be initiated at the same time. We should look for ways to support a corporate culture and promote the global framework for social and environmental transformation. The principle of everything having to be bigger, faster and cheaper is not sustainable. We all know that. The current coronavirus pandemic made this perfectly clear, because it reinforces developments: Resilient supply chains secure the future viability of German companies. They are the foundation. A long-term business relationship based on partnership, as in Fair Trade, is the be-all and end-all. The Supply Chain Act would support this effort. Taking human rights violations into account within their own areas of operation is not too much to ask of German companies. Companies also bear responsibility for people and the environment in regions where they and their suppliers operate, even if they are located outside Germany.
Freytag: Resilient, sustainable supply chains are, of course, what small and medium-sized enterprises in Germany want. German SMEs are already exemplary in this respect, both at home and abroad. Therefore, I see no need for a law. I simply do not expect that such a law will only result in reasonable tests.
What is wrong with proving one’s own innocence?
Freytag: The three of us will not have to prove our innocence all the time. Are entrepreneurs generally different?
There is no evidence that anything is going wrong with us. It is different with the supply chains.
Freytag: Are you sure? Here again, it sounds like general suspicion. If there are indications of behaviour that violates human rights, action should taken. But why do I have to force someone to preventatively prove their innocence?
Because right now it is all up to the consumer to decide. Is that enough?
Freytag: I believe in responsible consumers, but they still need the necessary information. This information and consumer protection must be improved. And the public’s perception of entrepreneurs is negative – and these prejudices have made it even worse. As a society, we need to look at entrepreneurs with less prejudice.
Vasileva: Entrepreneurship is the backbone of the German economy. I do not believe that a Supply Chain Act will be passed with clauses that harm German businesses. Quite the opposite. There are already more than 70 companies in Germany that support the supply chain initiative and binding liability. Companies do not bear the responsibility alone – it is divided three ways between them, the consumers and the state. It is better to recognise that than to shift the responsibility back and forth.
Freytag: German companies that are in favour of such a law have different motives. Some want clear rules and others want higher costs for competitors: It is like the West German trade unionists who went to the East in 1990 to raise wages there so high that the East German industry lost its competitive edge for good. It protects the jobs of big companies because it puts more of a burden on their smaller competitors – the big ones already have to deal with the bureaucratic burden. “Raising rival’s costs” is the motto.
Vasileva: Speaking of shared responsibility, the big investors are also taking a close look at it. Sustainability requirements are no longer a niche topic in the financial market. Take the investment company Blackrock, for example – they invest in companies. The chairman of the board has called on the managing directors of the companies to do business ethically, socially and responsibly.
Freytag: That is good to hear. Then we really do not need legislation.
Vasileva: But there are also many companies that avoid their responsibility, rely on voluntary measures and shift the responsibility onto consumers or the state.
Freytag: If they are cut off from funding because their behaviour appears to violate human rights, they automatically assume responsibility. Ensuring that human rights are respected is first and foremost a state responsibility. With a Supply Chain Act, more and more responsibility for tasks that are actually the state’s is being delegated to companies. And governments in the failed states can sit back and relax.
Vasileva: Based on our experience as a company that has been involved in Fair Trade for decades, we understand that we will not get anywhere without commitment. Almost 3,000 companies are speaking up in favour of liability, for example the Unternehmensgrün association, which represents 350 medium-sized companies, or the European brand association AIM, which represents around 2,500 companies, including Beiersdorf, Dr. Oetker, Nestle, Nike and Puma.
Freytag: As I said, this may have to do with strategic considerations. I frequently deal with the German-African Business Association (Afrika-Verein der deutschen Wirtschaft), which advocates for investors in and exporters to Africa – and they are not screaming for a Supply Chain Act. They do not want more bureaucracy.
Will a Supply Chain Act go into effect?
Vasileva: The coalition agreement of the German government is talking about implementing a legal regulation if the voluntary approach has proven ineffective. The National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights is considering a law if less than 50 per cent of large companies do not comply by 2020. Currently, less than 20 per cent are compliant. The law must and will be implemented. The only question is: when and to what extent. The key is for it not to be an empty threat. For me, civil liability is a central element of an effective Supply Chain Act.
Freytag: I do not think it will be implemented on a national level – more likely on a European level. Civil liability, however, should not exist under any circumstances. Only affected people should be allowed to sue, not NGOs in Germany, which are sometimes more concerned with punishing companies than with respecting human rights. Then we will hopefully have a directive that most people will be able to live with.
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In Eastern El Salvador, campesinos are cultivating a self-image to encourage rural youth to remain in rural areas. With help from Caritas, they have adjusted the cultivation methods to their soils and traditions - Marvin Antonio Garcia Otero,the deputy director of Caritas of the Diocese of San Miguel believes this is the best way to prevent rural exodus and criminality.
Africa's cotton production plays a key role in the fight against poverty. The "Cotton Made in Africa" initiative promotes sustainable cultivation - one element of which is the use of organic pesticides. Entomologist Ben Sekamatte and cotton company manager Boaz Ogola talked with Jan Rübel about soil and yields.
Countries across Africa coordinate their efforts in the fight against corona by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) of the African Union in Addis Abeba. Until now, the curve of new infections has been successfully flattened – why? Dr. Ahmed Ouma, Deputy Director, explains the work of CDC in an interview with Tilman Wörtz.
African countries still face huge gender gaps in terms of access to work and capital. What are the consequences of Corona for women in Africa? Jan Rübel interviewed Léa Rouanet on lockdowns and gender-based violence. The economist works at the Africa Gender Innovation Lab of the World Bank.
Every year in October, the "Welthungerhilfe" aid organisation, with the Irish "Concern Worldwide" NGO, publishes the Global Hunger Index, a tool with which the hunger situation is recorded. What are the trends - and what needs to be done?
Does Africa's youth want to live in the city or in the country? Which career path seems particularly attractive? And how optimistic are the young people about the future? Young adults from rural areas answered these questions by SMS.
How can agriculture modernise Africa? And does the road to the cities really lead out of poverty? Dr. Reiner Klingholz from the Berlin Institute for Population and Development in conversation with Jan Rübel .
Shortly before ending his position as Director General of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPR) Dr. Shenggen Fan talks about the reforms and new modes of operation needed to achieve global food security in the coming decade.
This is a benchmark for everybody: More rights for women are a very influencing solution in the struggle against extreme poverty and hunger worldwide, says Stephan Exo-Kreischer, Director of ONE Germany. The organisation specialises in political campaigning as a lever for sustainable change.
Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Podcast of the Federal Government
At the start of World Food Week around World Food Day on 16 October, Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that the fight against global hunger will only be successful with international responsibility and solidarity (german only).
Companies in Africa that need financing between $20,000 and $200,000 find relatively few investors, as this sector is too large for microcredit and too small for institutional investors. This creates a "gap in the middle" where companies have limited options. A project of the World Resource Institute provides a remedy with the Landaccelerator 2020.
The first Climate Adaptation Summit put climate adaptation at the center of politics for the first time. The virtual meeting united global players with one goal: building resilience is just as important as climate protection itself. Around 15,000 participants discussed direct proposals.
Environmental change is having a particularly strong impact on the African continent. Its landscapes see both negative and positive processes. What is science's view of this? A conversation with Cyrus Samimi about mobility for livelihoods, urban gardening and dealing with nature.
In August, Germany’s development ministry set up a division concentrating on One Health topics. Parliamentary State Secretary Maria Flachsbarth on knowledge gaps at the human-animal-environmental interface, the link between One Health and food security, and lessons learnt from previous pandemics.
A report by T. S. Jayne, A. Adelaja and R. Mkandawire
Thirty years ago, Africa was synonymous with war, famine and poverty. That narrative is clearly outdated. African living standards are rising remarkably fast. Our authors are convinced that improving education and entrepreneurship will ensure irreversible progress in the region even as it confronts COVID-19.
Startups are booming in African agriculture. What are the current trend and challenges – and can other regions benefit from innovative approaches? A Video-Interview with Claudia Makadristo, Regional Manager of Seedstars
International agricultural research is responding to new challenges: Their advisory group is undergoing a fundamental reform process and unites knowledge, partnerships and physical assets into OneCGIAR.
Artificial intelligence, big data and blockchain are the hottest topics of our time. The digital transformation of the African agricultural sector is ready for take-off. What will it take for the future of technology to hit the ground running?
Lots of apps are entering the market, but what really makes sense? For African agriculture, some of it seems like a gimmick, some like a real step forward. So this is what a smallholder farm in Africa could look like today - with the help of smartphones, internet and electricity.
Jehiel Oliver was a successful consultant. One day, he quit his job in investment banking to become a social entrepreneur. His mission: tractors for Africa. Rental tractors. What gave him that idea? Find out in his interview with Jan Rübel.
What Africa is experiencing in the course of digitisation is a disruption. Here three steps are taken in one, there you remain. In any case, the changes are enormous and bring some surprises. A graphic walk.
A contribution by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Africa’s population is young and ready to take its destiny into its own hands. Agriculture offers amazing opportunities in this regard. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation wants to support the next generation in this way.
From the lab to the masses: Maria Andrade bred varieties of biofortified sweet potatoes which are now widely used all over the continent. She sets her hope on the transformation of African agriculture.
The lockdown due to COVID-19 hit the economy hard - including agriculture in particular with its supply chains and sales markets. What creative coping strategies have those affected found? The Seminar for Rural Development has begun a research study on th
A contribution by Jes Weigelt and Alexander Müller
What is required to make food systems provide sufficient, healthy food while not harming the planet? How should food security be maintained given the threat posed by climate change? Our authors look at some aspects of tomorrow’s food systems against the backdrop of the corona crisis.
Freshwater deficits are affecting more and more people throughout the world. In order to counter this, our global food system will have to change, our author maintains. A case for more research on alternative crops and smart water solutions.
A contribution by Kerstin Weber and Brit Reichelt-Zolho (WWF)
Biodiversity and sustainable agriculture ensure the nutrition of whole societies. But there is more: These two factors also provide better protection against the outbreak of dangerous pandemics. Hence, the question of preserving ecosystems is becoming a global survival issue.
A contribution by Dr. May Hokan and Dr. Arnulf Köhncke (WWF)
Due to the coronavirus crisis, the connection between human and animal health has gained new attention. Politicians and scientists are joining forces to propagate the solution: One Health. But what is behind the concept? And can it also guarantee food security for all people worldwide?
There is a clear global task: We need to feed nine billion people by 2050. We, the people of Earth, must produce more food and waste less. That is the top priority of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), too - the description of a challenge.
Interview with Gnininkaboka Dabiré and Innocent Somé
Later on you want to become a farmer yourself, or would you prefer to take up another profession? Two young people from Burkina-Faso talked to representatives of the Dreyer Foundation about their parents' farms, the profession of farmer and their own plans for the future.
Double interview with Tony Rinaudo and Volker Schlöndorff
Tony Rinaudo uses conventional reforestation methods to plant millions and millions of trees – and Volker Schlöndorff is filming a cinema documentary about the Australian. The outcome so far: An educational film on behalf of the BMZ (Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development).
If there is a lack of fertile soil and rain, hunger breaks out quickly. Maria Smentek from the World Food Programme (WFP) explains how farmers and pastoralists can counter climate change with hydroponic-systems.
Urban gardening is becoming increasingly popular in northern metropoles. People who consider themselves part of a green movement are establishing productive gardens in the city, for example on rooftops or in vacant lots. In severely impoverished regions of the global South, urban agriculture is a component of the food strategy.
Supporting groups of smallholding women substantially contributes to strengthen rural operations economically. The organisation and associated group activities can help to reduce extreme poverty and improve the food situation.
The project “Scaling digital agriculture innovations through start-ups” (SAIS) supports Africans going into business in the agricultural and food sector in scaling their digital innovations and thus reaching out to a larger number of users.
Besides the well known impacts of Covid19 lockdowns for the adult population, the associated school closures led to 90 percent of the world’s children with no access to schools. However, school meals are in often the only daily meal for children. Without access to this safety net, issues like hunger, poverty and malnutrition are exacerbated for hundreds of millions of children.
The majority of producers in developing countries are women. Although they contribute significantly to the food security of their families, they remain chronically disadvantaged in male-dominated agriculture in terms of access to land, credit, technology and education.
A contribution by Nadine Babatounde and Anne Floquet (MISEREOR)
To prevent malnutrition among young children and strengthen the role of women in their communities, Misereor, together with the local non-governmental organisation CEBEDES, is implementing a programme on integrated home gardens in Benin - a series of pictures.
What happens when young people leave the rural areas? How can the region achieve what is referred to as the demographic bonus – and how can it reap the benefits of the demographic dividend? A look at demography shows the following: What is most important is promoting women’s rights and education.
After four years of Donald Trump in the White House, it is time to take stock: What policies did the Republican government pursue in African regions? And what will change in favor of Joe Biden after the election decision? Here is an evaluation.
While Africa is the least affected region by Covid-19 so far, the number of confirmed cases and deaths on the continent is quickly rising. Despite the challenges many African countries continue to face, the African response to the coronavirus pandemic displays innovation and ingenuity.
Even though COVID-19 poses a threat to the health of humanity, the reaction to the pandemic must not cause more suffering than the disease itself. This is particularly relevant for poor developing countries, where the impact of the corona crisis on food security is even more severe!
What contribution does development cooperation make to conflict prevention? What can it do for sustainable peace? Political scientist Karina Mroß talks to Raphael Thelen about post-conflict societies and their chances for peaceful development.
A contritbution by Essa Chanie Mussa (University of Gondar)
Rural youth need viable livelihood opportunities to escape out of poverty and realize their aspirations. How could they be helped to fully unleash their potential? This is an aloud call that needs novel strategies among governments, policy makers, and international development partners and donors.
A contribution by Michael Windfuhr (German Institute for Human Rights)
Land rights are no longer governed by the law of the strongest. That is what the international community has agreed to. Governments and private companies have a duty to respect human rights and avoid corruption.
Interview with Bernadette Arakwiye und Salima Mahamoudou (World Resources Institute)
Deforestation is leading to a shortage of ressources. What are the options for counteracting? A conversation with Bernadette Arakwiye and Salima Mahamoudou about renaturation and the possibilities of artificial intelligence.
It began with clicks at a trade fair and ends with concrete reforestation: a campaign at the Green Week in Berlin is now enriching the forests of the Yen Bai Province in Vietnam. A chronicle of an education about climatic relevance to concrete action - and about the short distances on our planet.
A contribution by Dr. Kathleen Mar and Dr. Nicole de Paula
Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, health is receiving unprecedented public and political attention. Yet the fact that climate change is also affecting the environmental and social determinants of health in a profound and far-reaching way deserves further recognition.
A report by Alexander Müller and Jes Weigelt (TMG)
As the climate changes, the population of Africa is growing and fertile land and jobs are becoming scarcer. New ways are currently leading to urbanisation of agriculture and a new mid-sized sector in the countryside
Nutrition experts from all over the world are coming together in Rome. They are not only distilling 2000 ideas to improve food systems - they are also preparing for the big UN summit in New York in September. An interview.
Journalist Jan Rübel spoke with Joao Campari ahead of the UNFSS Pre-Summit. The Chair of Action Track 3 highlights key challenges in transforming existing food systems towards sustainable production and shares his expectations for the Summit.
A contribution by Dr. Karin Gaesing and Prof. Dr. Frank Bliss (INEF)
Especially in densely populated areas, land pressure leads to overexploitation of available land and a lack of conservation measures. The West African country of Benin, with heavily depleted soils in many places, is no exception.
Publication of the Heinrich Böll Foundation and TMG ThinkTank for Sustainability.
The global community is failing in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. This is shown in the factsheet "Poverty Makes Hunger" published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the TMG ThinkTank for Sustainability. Read the full report here.
Interview with Paul Newnham, Director of the SDG 2 Advocacy Hub.
The UN Food Systems pre-Summit in Rome dealt with transforming the ways of our nutrition. How do you bring that to a broad public? Questions to Paul Newnham, the Director of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 Advocacy Hub.
Interview with Martina Fleckenstein (WWF), Michael Kühn (WHH) and Christel Weller-Molongua (GIZ)
After the summit means pre-summit: It was the first time that the United Nations held a summit on food systems. Martina Fleckenstein, Michael Kühn and Christel Weller-Molongua reviewed the situation in this joint interview.
A Contribution by Emile Frison and Nick Jacobs (IPES-Food)
While having failed to solve the hunger problem, industrial agriculture appears to be causing additional ones both in environmental and health terms. Emile Frison and Nick Jacobs call for a transformation.
The world’s population keeps on growing; with this rise comes an increased need for food as well as productive employment opportunities. Offering young people in rural areas better employment prospects is one of the objectives of the sector project. The young population is the key to a modern and efficient agricultural economy.
Small farmers are often left behind in African agriculture. Access to markets and improved competitiveness can only be achieved if the small farms join forces. But those affected in partner countries are often at a loss as to how to implement cooperative models. Here, the BMZ provides support through the SEWOH ONE World – NO Hunger initiative and the Social Structure Promotion (Sozialstrukturförderung).
A project by Deutscher Genossenschafts- und Raiffeisenverband e. V.
Three quarters of the world's population do not have secure land rights, which hinders investment and innovation. The project "Improvement of Livelihood and Food Security" supports smallholder farmers in acquiring land.
Every one degree Celsius rise in temperature increases the risk of conflict by two to ten percent. The climate crisis is a humanitarian crisis, as the photos by Christoph Püschner and Frank Schultze illustrate.
At the climate conference in Glasgow, activists from various groups protested again – Leonie Bremer from ‘Fridays for Future’ was there too. How can climate protection and development cooperation work hand in hand?
In March 2022, the virtual conference ICTforAg summons leading actors in the agrartechnology and food sector from low- and middle-income countries to exchange ideas advancing resilience, nutrition and agriculture-led growth.
The finals of the Innovation Challenge “Advisory for Agroecology” took place on 17 May - 2022 featuring six innovations in advisory that provided the basis for a discussion on how to bridge the gap between science and practice.
The G7 is responding to the worsening global hunger crisis by mobilizing an additional $4.5 billion for this year alone. A key milestone for this in the run-up was the international conference on global food security "Uniting for Global Food Security".
Healthy, productive soils are a prerequisite for global food security – one of the priorities of German development cooperation. State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth on Germany’s efforts to support sustainable land management and why the VGGT are more important than ever today.
A Contribution by Adrian Muller, Catherine Pfeifer and Jürn Sanders (FiBL)
Taking Biodiversity Focus Areas under production or abandoning lower yielding, more extensive production systems is the wrong approach to mastering the looming global food crisis, say the authors of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL).
How can we reach more people with successful approaches to food security? In Berlin, an international conference organized by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationaler Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) addressed this issue.
This year's United Nations World Drug Report highlights for the first time the nexus between illicit drugs and the environment. In view of climate change, it is time to feed the debate with facts and make drug policy greener
Martin Frick has been director of the WFP office in Berlin for a year – since then one hunger crisis has followed another. What are the diplomat's answers? A conversation about opportunities in agriculture, the interplay of multiple crises, the importance of resilience and tighter budgets.
Why are short- and long-term responses important to address current and future global crises? Sebastian Lesch, Head of the Agriculture Division at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), provides answers to these and other questions in an interview with the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development (GDPRD) and explains how much Germany welcomes all donors pulling together and acting in concert.
Data security, financing, the automation of loans and the use of alternative data - the digitalisation of financial services in the agricultural sector has many facets, which an international conference with representatives of the agricultural finance sector in Zambia addressed. But how does the digitalisation of financial services contribute to rural development and the inclusion of women?
How to maintain functioning food markets in global food supply chains in the face of vulnerability and disruption? Markets that support local and territorial food systems are part of the solution. Thomas Forster presents proposals for these markets to cope with future shocks.
In October, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) adopted policy recommendations ‘Promoting Youth Engagement and Employment in Agriculture and Food Systems’. Anke Oppermann answers five questions on youth employment in the agricultural sector.
The Global Alliance for Food Security (GAFS), jointly launched by the German G7 Presidency and the World Bank, released the Global Food and Nutrition Security Dashboard during COP27: A Rapid Response Tool for Coordinating Global Action for Food Security.
The transformation of food systems is regarded as the new magic code, but effective strategies are lacking. A new group of experts discussed the prerequisites for efficiently managing this process. The experts representing politics, youth, civil society, farmers' organizations, private sector, and academia unanimously concluded: transformation is possible, but it needs a strong drive from within.
Interview with Caroline Milow and Ramon Brentführer
Groundwater resources remain dormant in the soil of African regions. Where does it make sense to use them – and where does overexploitation of nature begin? Caroline Milow (GIZ) and Ramon Brentführer (BGR) talk about potentials in the future and lessons from the past.
Russia's war against Ukraine and its impact on food, energy and fertiliser prices is worrying farmers all over the world. Young farmers, farmer organisations and politicians from Kenya, Chad and Ukraine tell their stories and what keeps them in agriculture.
During the trade Grüne Woche, school classes visited the BMZ (German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development), Brot für die Welt and Misereor. Each class spends one hour at their stand to learn about the global challenges posed by food systems. A review by Jan Rübel.
After four years of the Bolsonaro administration, the new Brazilian government is trying to restart its engagement in agroecology, fighting deforestation in the Amazon and protecting indigenous communities and poor families from hunger. An interview with the Vice-minister for Rural Development and Family Farming, Fernanda Machiaveli.
Karen Mapusua, President of IFOAM Organics International Network, on the danger of the current fuel crises and inflation to loose track in sustainablity, why organic farmers should be heard and how the word “crisis” has a very different meaning where she lives in Fiji.
Three female entrepreneurs from Mozambique, Sri Lanka and Uganda tell their stories about starting organic businesses from scratch, now selling Baobab Oil, Gotukola powder and Shea butter in international markets. And they explain why their business is almost 100 percent female.
When women have control over the resources of a household and manage the income, it usually leads to a more balanced and healthier diet for the family. But often the decision-making power lies with the men. How can this gender inequality be addressed? The GIZ global project Food Security and Resilience provides insights into project work on gender-transformative approaches finances by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
A contribution by William Onura and Larissa Stiem-Bhatia
In agriculture it is important to include political stakeholders in the discourse. To build the bridge between practical application and political action, the think tank TMG launched the Governor's Day with Farmers in Kakamega County, Kenya. Now it took place for the second time. But what are the goals and benefits of the Governor's Day?
Priscilla Impraim is one of the first women in Ghana to enter the chocolate business. Despite some hurdles, she founded the company Ab Ovo Confectionery Limited in 2006 with currently six permanent employees and 25 seasonal employees.
Development cooperation needs to place good governance and a sustainable agri-food systems transformation at its center: After the first 100 days in office have passed, Dirk Meyer from the German Development Ministry (BMZ) spells out the goals, guidelines and priorities of the Ministry’s new lead.
The Import Promotion Desk (IPD) accompanied organic producers from developing and emerging countries to Biofach. In an interview, Dr Julia Bellinghausen, head of the IPD, explains the importance of organic certification in export promotion.
Four interviews kick off the relaunch under the new name „Food4Transformation“, asking the same questions from different perspectives. Mareike Haase and Stig Tanzmann from Brot für die Welt explain why the right to food, inclusivity, agroecology and food sovereignty are the central levers for a successful transformation.