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What are we reading?

Recently released books, reports, manuals, etc.

Strengthening the Social Impacts of Sustainable Landscapes Programs - A practitioner’s guidebook to strengthen and monitor human well-being outcomes

An estimated 1.6 million people depend on forests for their livelihoods, so successful conservation must focus on sustainable landscapes that benefit people as well as nature. This book offers valuable, practical information on how to strengthen the social outcomes of landscapes programmes, with the interdependence between changes in the environment and human well being at the core. Design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of landscapes projects are addressed, with a discussion on specific tools and approaches within each, with many examples from Indonesia’s Berau Forest Carbon Program. The suggestions on engaging stakeholders and using situation analysis during early phases of project design are particularly useful.

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Community well-being in biocultural landscapes: Are we living well?

People must be at the centre of decision making concerning the management of the landscapes in which they live. This book convincingly argues the case for considering the cultural side of landscapes, and takes a fresh and detailed look at the variety of means for assessing well being and the multiple dimensions involved in capturing this. It provides insight into what determines the success of projects that originated from communities’ own realities and worldviews, and informs broader questions such as how we can balance our material, social and spiritual well being, and how we can flourish within the ecological limits of our planet. Power of persuasion is drawn from a diplomatic style as the introductory chapters acknowledge the evolution of thought from using GDP as a purely economic measures of ‘progress’ towards other measures of well being. Key concepts are introduced, namely, ‘community well-being’ and ‘biocultural landscapes’, both crucial considerations for ‘endogenous development.’ These concepts are operationalised within frameworks that use selected indicators and ‘most significant change’ stories to monitor material, social and spiritual aspects of well being. Case studies from Sri Lanka, Ghana and Bolivia demonstrate how the frameworks have been used and reveal learning outcomes for local and external actors within endogenous development projects. In Sri Lanka for example, religious underpinnings of people had been underestimated as it was revealed that the dominant form of rice cultivation reliant on pesticides contravened Buddhist principles. The resounding message is that a community is more than the sum of its individual parts. Communities share ecosystems and landscapes and are engaged in activities of importance to their economy and environment. The book concludes with reflections on why well being assessment at the community level is important and what challenges need to be addressed, such as conflict resolution and building consensus. A final plea is for more partnerships between community-based organisations, local support organisations and international institutions, in order to better understand the social, spiritual and material realities of living well.

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Lessons in supporting family farming: Stories from Swaziland

Many rural development initiatives attempt to improve the lives of family farmers. Some succeed, some fail – but all of them can offer valuable lessons for the future. In a two-phased documentation workshop, farmers, field workers and other experts working in IFAD-funded projects in Swaziland described, analysed and wrote down some of their most promising experiences. This book presents the results of their work. Published in the International Year of Family Farming, it offers various lessons and challenges relevant for professionals who are working to support family farmers.

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ILEIA Financial statement 2013

Balance sheet and statement of revenues and costs 2013

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ILEIA Annual report 2013

This summary of the ILEIA 2013 annual report shows the activities and results of ILEIA and the AgriCultures Network in 2013, as well as the lessons learnt in this year. It covers the four main result areas of ILEIA and the network: global knowledge sharing and the magazine, documentation and systematisation, education, policy advocacy and strengthening of the AgriCultures Network.

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Agroecology: What it is and what it has to offer

In a context of a changing climate and growing concerns for more healthy food systems, agroecology is gaining momentum as a scientific discipline, sustainable farming approach and social movement. There is growing anecdotal and case study evidence of its multiple benefits, from climate resilience to farm productivity. Yet its promotion in public agricultural policies, research and extension is still limited. This paper explores why this is. It calls for consolidating the evidence base for agroecology through multi-dimensional tools that not only measure yields, but also its many other benefits: economic, environmental and social. Mainstreaming agroecology will require a fundamental cultural and philosophical shift in how we as a society define‘productive’ and ‘efficient’ agriculture.

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Feeding Frenzy: The New Politics of Food

Feeding Frenzy addresses the question “Can we feed the world of 9 billion by 2050?” through the lens of the today’s market turmoil and prevailing hunger and inequality. Following a brief history of the food system, McMahon delves into economic and political issues shaping the current food crisis. The book addresses how governments and corporations are fighting to secure control over food supply chains. Land grabbing, speculation on global food markets and export bans are a few of the topics discussed. Finally, McMahon outlines actions that would help to shape a sustainable and just food system. He states categorically that we have enough land and already produce enough food, if only we could support smallholder farmers, put ecology at the centre of farming, and make financial markets work to address real challenges.

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State of the World 2014: Governing for Sustainability

Although optimistic, the book is framed by a sentiment of crisis, with humanity at an unprecedented crossroads requiring a sharp departure from politics and business as usual. The book examines both obstacles to, and opportunities for, responsible political and economic governance. The scope is broad with contributions covering issues from appropriate technologies, markets and public goods, to the organisational capacity of civil society. The unifying message is that engaged and well-informed citizens are the key to better governance. It ends with a call to action, that we must build a culture of grassroots community engagement to improve the relationships that bind us to each other and to the planet we live on.

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Who Wants to Farm? Youth aspirations, opportunities and rising food prices

Adding fuel to the debate on the future of agriculture, this paper explores why youth in developing countries appear reluctant to enter farming. Based on research in 10 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, it looks at conditions that attract young people to farming, and entry points for youth participation in policy making decisions on agriculture and food security. Contributors to agriculture’s lack of appeal were a lack of access to land and capital, and social changes such as increased formal education. But agriculture proved attractive to youth when education is used to enhance productivity, and when young people mobilise in groups to enhance the freedom offered by meaningful employment. And agriculture could be made even more attractive with targeted support from public policies, and the use of young role models to show the potential of agricultural opportunities.

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Constitutions and the Commons: The Impact of Federal Governance on Local, National, and Global Resource Management

Constitutions and the Commons looks at a critical but little examined issue of the degree to which the federal constitution of a nation contributes toward or limits the ability of the national government to manage its natural resources (or commons). Furthermore it considers how far the constitution facilitates the binding of constituent states, provinces or subnational units to honor the conditions of international environmental treaties. While the main focus is on the US, there is also detailed coverage of other nations such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, India and Russia.

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Land Solutions for Climate Displacement

Climate displacement is already a reality for an estimated 26 million people worldwide. This title looks at where displacement is taking place and where it will occur, and seeks rights-based policy options that will secure land-based solutions for communities displaced by changing climates. The issues in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and the USA are reviewed in detail, offering many views but highlighting for all cases that the loss of land and the need for new land is the main challenge. There is an urgent need to act now at the legal and policy level but also at the community level, and although the complexity of climate displacement is acknowledged, the final message is that ultimately solutions are a question of will.

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Learning for rural change: 11 stories from Zambia

Many rural development initiatives attempt to improve the lives of small-scale farmers. Some succeed, some fail – but all of them can offer valuable lessons for the future. In a two-phased documentation workshop, a group of experts working in IFAD-funded projects in Zambia described, analysed and wrote down some of their most promising experiences. This book presents the results of their work. The eleven articles provide different lessons and challenges relevant for professionals in the field of agriculture and rural development.

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Building a New Agricultural Future:Supporting agro-ecology for people and planet

Agro-ecology applies ecological concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable agriculture. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that globally, more than 800 million people worldwide are undernourished. Shockingly, half of these are small-scale farmers and their families, for whom a failed harvest due to drought, or the loss of land caused by irresponsible large-scale land investments, can have a devastating effect on their livelihoods. Climate change and the injustice of hunger require urgent attention, and investment in a model of agriculture that is truly sustainable. This briefing makes the case for investment in agro-ecology to achieve food security for some of the poorest farmers in the world. It shows how an agro-ecological approach can provide a range of social, economic, and environmental benefits that, with the right policy support and associated investments, can be scaled up to enable smallholder farming communities to achieve sustainable livelihoods.

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Reclaiming food security

This book presents a critique of the dominant directions taken by public policy in the name of food security. He argues that food should not be treated in the same way as any other commodity and genuine food security should be firmly aligned with principles of food sovereignty, wellbeing, equity and ecological sustainability. He examines the history of pursuing increased agricultural production (at all costs), trade liberalisation, global market integration and increased marketing and why these approaches have failed to deliver food security. The author urges that we move towards a renewed conceptualisation of food security that embraces freedom for people and nations to lead happy, healthy and long lives.

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The transformative potential of the right to food: Final report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter

On 10 March 2014, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, presented his final report to the UN Human Rights Council. This report offers more than a call for a new paradigm for agriculture, also providing a nuanced vision on how to get there. He sets the scene with a succinct explanation on how the current exclusive focus on production efficiency has failed to reduce hunger and has also led to severe environmental impacts. He argues that the transition to sustainable production and consumption and reducing rural poverty, requires agroecological farming and actions such as curtailing industrial meat production. Inclusive smallholder food systems and the recognition of smallholders’ rights should be prioritised, and not co-opted into the dominant food system. De Schutter also highlights the level of interdependence by illustrating that rebuilding local food systems in developing countries is strongly linked to food system reforms in rich countries. And food policies can be democratised at three levels, by rebuilding local food systems, deploying national strategies, and shaping an enabling international environment. Key insights in this report come from De Schutter’s bridge between local and international action. At one level is the need to understand democracy in terms of communities choosing and shaping their food systems, while at another level is the need to harness governmental support and cooperation.

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Transcript speech Olivier de Schutter

Food Otherwise Conference, 22 February 2014, Wageningen, the Netherlands

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Transcript speech Vandana Shiva

Food Otherwise Conference, 21 February 2014, Wageningen, the Netherlands

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Dez qualidades da agricultura familiar

What is family farming, and what distinguishes it from entrepreneurial farming or family agribusiness? The confusion tends to be highest in places where the modernisation of agriculture has led society further away from farming. Jan Douwe van der Ploeg takes us into the world of family farming, which he says is considered to be “both archaic and anarchic, and attractive and seductive”.

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Scaling-up agroecological approaches: what, why and how?

Agro-ecology is a science, a social movement and a broad set of agricultural approaches. Scaling up agro-ecology requires a systematic search for combinations of techniques and strategies that fit specific ecological, social and political contexts. This discussion paper aims to support civil society and government actors by providing evidence of the centrality of agro-ecological approaches for sustainable agriculture. The author also highlights the challenges (along with specific actions) to scaling up agro-ecological approaches. These include breaking down ideological barriers, supporting farmer-to-farmer networks, creating supportive policy environments, empowering women and democratising the policy making process.

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