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Responsible investments in agriculture and food systems – A practical handbook for parliamentarians and parliamentary advisors

This Practical Handbook is directed to Members of Parliament and Parliamentary Advisors, who are considered “change agents”. It provides a comprehensive and systematic overview of the role that Parliamentarians can play in the creation of reliable, coherent, and transparent “enabling environments” in the range of areas related to investment in agriculture and food systems.

The Handbook does so, not through a catalog of prescriptions, but through guidance notes, examples of good practices, and very practical indications. It does not aim to provide a blueprint to be implemented by each Parliament but rather it sets out key stages of processes and mechanisms for MPs and advisors to consider while promoting responsible investment in agriculture and food systems.

Part 1 of the Handbook presents the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems and explains:

    why there is an urgent need to enhance responsible investment in agriculture and food systems: high levels of malnutrition and poverty (exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic), population growth and urbanization, increasing demand for more resource-intensive diets, climate change, and its severe impacts;

    what is responsible investment in agriculture and food systems: “Responsible investment in agriculture and food systems contributes to sustainable development by generating positive socio-economic and environmental impacts, enhancing food security and nutrition. It requires progressively respecting, protecting and fulfilling human rights”;

    and how can it contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and national development plans - scaling up support to small scale farmers, engaging and empowering youth, closing the gender gap, and improving access to infrastructure, public services, and agricultural finance, and, in general, investing in the sustainable production of safe and nutritious food while contributing to improving inclusion in the food system, prioritizing vulnerable populations and adopting a human rights-based approach to food security, in line with the SDGs spirit of addressing inequalities and ensuring that no one is left behind.

In Part 2, through specific Guidance Notes, Parliamentarians and advisors are guided through concrete actions they can implement in their countries to improve and increase investments, actions such as: executing a national policy, legislative, and institutional frameworks assessment; ensuring consistency in the legal and policy framework; advocating to reform existing laws and/or adopt new laws; ensuring adequate financing for the implementation of laws related to responsible investments in agriculture and food systems and ensuring effective parliamentary oversight are detailed throughout.

In addition to their essential role for the enactment of legislation and adoption of budgets, and of ensuring accountability of governments for the effective implementation of commitments, parliamentarians, and parliamentary advisors are custodians of their country’s plans for sustainable development and have a strategic responsibility to raise awareness of citizens on issues of paramount importance.

To support parliamentarians and advisors in creating effective partnerships with other stakeholders, such as other parliamentarians, the private sector, the civil society, and academia, Part 3 provides tailored key messages that can be used ad hoc in meetings, conferences, and in other kinds of communications such as reports, press releases, and social media. It includes useful explanations of how data and country-level statistics can support advocacy and communication activities.

FAO, The International Institute for Sustainable Development