Policy and Advocacy
The Development Fund is directly involved in international and national policy and advocacy work related to our programmes and our stakeholders. Changes in national and international policies and frameworks are essential in order to ensure a sustainable future for small scale farmers.
International and national policy processes are often dominated by professionals and politicians. Small-scale farmers are mostly excluded from these processes. Consequently, most policies and strategies neglect their realities and do not respond adequately to their needs. The Development Fund is working to increase the participation and influence of small scale farmers and other stakeholders in policy processes, and is convinced that this is crucial for making policies work. An understanding of the practical experiences of the stakeholders in question is essential for good policy work and increases the legitimacy and applicability of political proposals. Combining practical project work with policy and advocacy makes policy processes more relevant and concrete for farmers and stakeholders and increases their interest in participating in such processes. In many of our programme countries, this combination fills a gap in national policy processes related to climate change, biodiversity, agriculture, and food security.
To achieve a more inclusive and viable policy, the Development Fund supports local partners and their advocacy work locally, nationally, and internationally. The policy work supported by the Development Fund is directly linked with our core topics: sustainable agriculture, food security, climate change, and agrobiodiversity. The strategies and specific topics are defined by our local partner organizations, and the Development Fund’s main role is capacity building and increasing partners and farmers’ skills and participation in policy processes. The policy and advocacy work is carried out at different levels to influence policy makers when they make laws and regulations, distribute resources, and make other decisions that affect peoples’ lives. The Development Fund is also targeting Norwegian authorities to influence national policies in Norway and Norway’s official position internationally in our prioritized policy topics.
We work with local partners and farmers’ groups, and support capacity building and awareness raising, particularly of youth, women, and indigenous people. Our aim is to increase their participation in decision-making processes within their communities. This involves planning for watershed management, seed production and distribution schemes, climate change adaptation and mitigation plans, and other development processes. As a direct result, more youth and women are participating in local development commissions. In Central America, the Development Fund has promoted municipal youth offices and municipal youth commissions.
Farmers, including women, indigenous people, and youth, are part of advocacy networks where they discuss outlines to national policies and strategies on relevant topics. The comments and suggestions are brought to policy makers by farmers, who are part of round table discussions where civil society, public institutions, and government are represented. Some of the topics that have engaged farmers are national climate change adaptation and mitigation plans (NAPA, NAMA, REDD+), farmers’ rights, breeders’ rights, seed laws, and agriculture policies. DF also supports partners that are specialized in policy and advocacy, and through partner networks at a national level all Development Fund partners provide inputs and raise important issues in national policy processes. For example, in Malawi, our partners are, together with other civil society organizations, directly influencing government policy on funding and priority setting for climate adaptation and mitigation.
International policy processes are often abstract and far away from farmers’ daily lives. The Development Fund has promoted the participation of representatives of farmers in relevant international policy processes (UNFCCC, UN-CBD, ITPGRFA). This is particularly important to increase farmers understanding and knowledge of these processes, which strengthens their position in national policy processes. Some of our partners have been part of the national delegation in the UNFCCC and ITPGRFA meetings for many years, and manage to influence national positions.