Hivos addresses global challenges — growing world populations, climate change, food system challenges, nutrition insufficiency — with smart solutions including rethinking ecosystems as the basic foundation of societies and economies and putting citizens at the centre of building new food systems.
This initiative promotes healthy and sustainable food systems for all across the globe using a variety of intervention strategies. Hivos works for stronger consumer and citizen voice in food system governance as well as better–integrated policies. Through supporting place-specific behaviour change, creating and raising awareness, and facilitating exchanges with key actors, they bring consumers into the discussion about food system change. Hivos furthermore convenes generally excluded groups — such as small–scale producers, women, youth, and street vendors — to start initiatives to accelerate a shift toward more sustainable, diverse, and healthy production and consumption practices.
Hivos works at levels of strategy and intervention. The first strategy is to finance the development of technical and business skills among early-stage food entrepreneurs and link these entrepreneurs with potential investors. This impact investment strengthens entrepreneurship. The second strategy is to create coalitions of the willing that bring multiple stakeholders together to jointly develop local, national, and international examples of how food systems can be transformed. Finally, Hivos uses evidence generated by citizens to advocate with governments and international forums so their policies will promote diverse and healthy food, sustainable production methods, and enable the scaling of successful solutions.
Hugo Verkuijl, Hivos’s program development manager, shared a story about work with partners in Fort Portal, Uganda, where food and food systems have yet to be included in the urban planning of a fast-growing city. Hivos facilitated a broad, multi-stakeholder dialogue on how to sustainably feed the population of Fort Portal. This discussion included private organizations, youth movements, religious organizations, the public sector, civil society, citizens, research, private sector, and cultural organizations and included previously excluded groups, such as street food vendors who had been marginalized by the municipal government as they did not realize how critical these actors were to the low–income residents of the city. This dialogue led to the creation and financing of the “sustainable diets for all” initiative to approach structural food systems change in the city.
Photo by Hivos