Governance and policy innovation: Country experiences, tools and approaches

14:00 - 16:00 CET

Virtual Event, 09/11/2023

In pursuit of the ambitious goal to create "more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable agrifood systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind," the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) acknowledges the pivotal role of innovation in elevating the impact of its projects and programmes. 

Within this context, innovation in governance and policy processes emerges as the linchpin for reinforcing evidence-based and inclusive decision-making. It is also the engine that drives the scaling of technological and other innovations contributing to the sustainable transformation of agrifood systems. 

This forthcoming webinar provides a unique opportunity to glean insights from stakeholders and partners, who have tested tools and approaches in policy and governance innovation at the national level. It's an exploration of the tangible progress made, the challenges surmounted and the invaluable lessons learned from concrete experiences from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malawi, Uzbekistan and beyond.

Join us for this virtual event, where innovation in policy and governance is demystified and its pivotal role in the future of agrifood systems takes centre stage.

1. Opening remarks
  • David Laborde, Director, Agrifood Economics Division, FAO
2. Panel: governance and policy innovation in action
  • Delgermaa Chuluunbaatar, Agricultural Research Officer, FAO
  • Jarot Indarto, Director of Food and Agriculture of the Ministry of National Development Planning, Indonesia
  • Anna Rapazzo, Coordinator, Governance Innovation for Sustainable Development of Food Systems, FAO
  • Sarah Tione, Research Ethics Secretariat Administrator, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) 

        Moderated by Nevena Alexandrova, Agricultural Extension Officer, FAO

3. In focus: experiences, tools and approaches in policy and governance innovation

Breakout discussions diving into cases from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malawi and Uzbekistan, presented by:

  • Choulong Heng, Chief of ICT Office, Department of Extension for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), Cambodia
  • Ifan Martino, Planner, Directorate of Food and Agriculture of the Ministry of National Development Planning, Indonesia 
  • Sherzod Suyarkulov, Chairman of the Fergana Beekeeping Association, Uzbekistan
  • Alfred Tsitsi, Project Manager, FAO Malawi
  • Sean Woolfrey, Leader, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
4. Synthesis of experiences, tools and approaches

Key takeaways from breakouts

5. Closing remarks
  • Vincent Martin, Director, Office of Innovation, FAO

Dr Delgermaa (Degi) Chuluunbaatar works as an agricultural research officer at FAO’s Office of Innovation in Rome. Degi has over 25 years of experience in rural development, food security and sustainable agriculture. Her most recent role in FAO’s Office of Innovation is to promote agrifood technologies and innovation and to strengthen national Agrifood Innovation Systems (AIS). Degi also supports multi-stakeholder policy dialogue processes for more inclusive and evidence-informed decision-making for sustainable agrifood systems transformation. 

Dr Jarot Indarto is currently Director at the Directorate of Food and Agriculture, Ministry of National Development Planning/BAPPENAS, Indonesia. His interests are food and agricultural policy, environmental economics, water resources management, and world development issues. He holds a Master of Technique (MT.) in Regional and Infrastructure Management from the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) Indonesia and a Master of Science (MSc.) in Environmental and Infrastructure Planning from the Faculty of Spatial Sciences in the Netherlands. He holds a PhD in Development science from the Graduate School for International Development and Cooperation (IDEC) in Japan. His doctoral thesis focused on forest permits and deforestation in Indonesia. 

Dr David Laborde is the Director of the FAO Agrifood Economics Division. He previously worked at IFPRI as a Senior Research Fellow and at the Centre d'Etudes Prospectives et d'Informations Internationales (CEPII), and in collaboration with FAO provided evidence and analysis supporting food systems transformation. He has also worked for the European Commission, the Economic Commission for West Africa, the World Bank, USAID, and various UN agencies. He received his PhD in International Economics from the University of Pau in 2008. 

Dr Vincent Martin is the Director of the Office of Innovation at FAO. With a wealth of expertise in diplomacy, global health, food and nutrition security, epidemiology, and spatial analysis, he has more than 20 years of field experience developing strategies and policies, exploring, and experimenting to source solutions to fight against hunger while championing the gender agenda. Vincent joined FAO in 1998, in the Animal Production and Health Division. Since then, he has held various positions at FAO and the UN, including Animal Health Officer of Infectious Disease Analysis and Early Warning, Senior Technical Advisor, Head of Animal Health Early Warning System (EMPRES), FAO Representative in Senegal and Head of the Regional Resilience Team for West Africa and the Sahel. Most recently, he served as the United Nations Resident Coordinator (UNRC) in Guinea, overseeing some 24 UN agencies, funds and programmes. 

Gender expert by training, Anna Rappazzo is the Coordinator of the FAO Sub-programme on Governance Innovation for Sustainable Food Systems, in the Governance and Policy support team in the FAO Chief Economist Office. She joined FAO almost 20 years ago, seconded by and International NGO and worked in various capacities, in FAO and other UN Agencies, in support to multilateral and multi-stakeholders policy processes, including the consolidation and implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. 

Dr Sarah E. Tione holds a PhD in Economics obtained at the School of Economics and Business (HH), Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). Her research focus is on development, and agricultural and land economics. Sarah has experience in agricultural policy, program and project development, implementation, and evaluation in agricultural sector from working with the Department of Planning, Ministry of Agriculture in Malawi. Since January 2023, her new role focuses on upholding research ethics at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) in Malawi.




Governance and policy innovation takes centre stage

Development partners experiment novel processes and approaches to scale up sustainable agrifood systems transformation

1 December 2023 - Accelerating the transformation of agrifood systems depends crucially on the capacity of decision-makers and societies to leverage effective and innovative policies, mobilizing the potential of stakeholders to rapidly face interconnected challenges such as food insecurity and malnutrition, conflicts and the climate crisis. Committed to pursuing this goal, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recognizes governance and innovation as strategic “accelerators” that can unlock and facilitate development opportunities.

With that view, policymakers, experts, researchers and practitioners have unveiled fresh perspectives on catalysing agrifood systems transformation through governance and policy innovation, exchanging concrete country experiences from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malawi and Uzbekistan, in a webinar organized by FAO on 9 November 2023.

“We need new and comprehensive evidence that will guide decision-making. We need to create new capacities to make sure that actors understand, master and feed tools to use them constructively in negotiations and decision-making,” said David Laborde, Director of FAO’s Agrifood Economics Division, who also pointed out the importance of governance and innovation for the Organization to be included in all programmatic interventions.

Throughout the event attended by over 200 people, discussants emphasized the need to include the different experiences in multi-stakeholder dialogues to ensure that all actors are represented, empowered and heard. They also underlined the importance of addressing the interests, needs and power asymmetries to enforce a whole of society approach.

“Inclusivity matters. Governance and policy need everyone’s voices from smallholder farmers to small- and medium-size enterprises, from local leaders to scientists and extension workers,” stressed Vincent Martin, Director of FAO’s Office of Innovation. “Especially crucial is hearing from those often overlooked like youth, women, Indigenous Peoples and minorities, both in rural and urban areas. Their exclusion is a barrier to innovation. This is why when we engage in such a process, we must always ask the question ‘who is not at the table?’”, he added.

Nevena Alexandrova-Stefanova, Agricultural Extension Officer at FAO's Office of Innovation, moderated the panel discussion and pinpointed, from the various contributions, key words related to governance and policy innovation: multi-actor, evidence-based, entailing forward and system thinking. She concluded by saying that they revolve around policy cohesion and require time, resources, engagement, pragmatism, and a mindset change.

Experiments and lessons learned

The webinar was an opportunity to elaborate on what policy and governance innovation looks like in practice, including successes, challenges and lessons learned to incorporate relevant approaches into projects, programmes, and policies towards a systemic transformation.

Jarot Indarto, Director for Food and Agriculture at the Ministry of National Development Planning (BAPPENAS) in Indonesia, presented a fiscal transfer system that his central government put in place to assist the country’s very culturally and socially diverse sub-national administrations in tailoring the food systems transformation agenda to the local contexts. “Since we are by default a decentralized country, it is important for us to facilitate local governments to develop their food systems based on their local foods, cultures and governance,” highlighted Dr Indarto. A planner at the same ministry, Ifan Martino added that food systems has become a priority topic in the overall framework guiding the development agenda for the country.

Indonesia’s journey to transform food systems was also presented by Sean Woolfrey, Leader for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). He described the cutting-edge approach that models stylized scenarios combining possible policy mixes in the country’s agrifood sector, which provided the Indonesian government with state-of-the-art analytical insights pointing to options to select the optimal and actionable mix of policy interventions. This unique modelling approach has been developed by IISD and other research institutions under the Governance innovation for sustainable development of food systems subprogramme, funded by FAO’s Flexible Voluntary Contribution, and will be replicated in other countries.

Presenters emphasized the key role of multistakeholder dialogue processes for agricultural innovation systems (AIS) through the work carried out by FAO’s TAP-AIS project. In Malawi, the initiative has identified a series of institutional bottlenecks curbing agricultural innovation, which has led the government to seek strengthened mechanisms to improve effective participation in policy decisions and strategic processes.

In Cambodia, the same project has supported the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) in the organization of an inclusive multistakeholder policy dialogue process at national and sub-national levels to accelerate the promotion of conservation agriculture (CA). Choulong Heng, Chief of Information and Communications Technology at MAFF, explained that this process resulted in the publication of a policy brief with concrete recommendations, encouraging policymakers to assume a stronger commitment to CA, including a target to expand the area under CA to be added to the country’s Agriculture Development Policy (2023-2030).

In Uzbekistan, where FAO is supporting the Ministry of Agriculture in strengthening the Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation System (AKIS) and digitalization at national and regional levels. The labs, where diverse actors of the AKIS assisted with data, foresight and behavioural science insights, sit on the driving seat of the policy innovation. They have helped formulate the regional AKIS strategy in Fergana Valley and define and implement actions on smallholder, women and youth empowerment to participate in AKIS, and on interface of digitalisation and AKIS in the region. In this way, the spatial, time and relevance gap between policy formulation and implementation has been shortened and transformative impact achieved faster.

Looking ahead

The webinar introduced new ways of thinking the agrifood systems transformation agenda. Drawing from insights and concrete cases, speakers mentioned the need for a more conducive environment for innovation as a critical steppingstone in the desired transformation, triggered by governance and policy innovation.

“Innovation is not the ‘what’, but the ‘how’. We need all to get out of our comfort zones,” pointed out Anna Rappazzo, Project Officer at FAO, who also shared her experience coordinating the FVC-funded subprogramme in Indonesia. “Accompanying a process as a neutral broker means much more than putting people around the table: it’s about ensuring that all these people have a common understanding and are able to contribute to commonly agreed priorities.”

Delgermaa Chuluunbaatar, Agricultural Research Officer at FAO, spotlighted underrated perspectives from the local level to advance knowledge and policymaking processes: “We often talk about science-based policies, which is very important, but we also need to look at the diverse sources of evidence: not only traditional science based, or programme based, but also capitalizing on the local and indigenous knowledge.”

“When you talk about governance and policy innovation, you start with an understanding of how we innovatively come up with policies that should help us govern better,” summarized Sarah Tione, Research Ethics Secretariat Administrator at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) in Malawi. “To achieve any transformation, the only way is to innovate, and this innovation starts with deep understanding leading to a mindset change.”

In pursuit of the ambitious goal to create "more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable agrifood systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind," the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) acknowledges the pivotal role of innovation in elevating the impact of its projects and programmes.