Applying law principles directly to individual laws in a qualitative evaluation represents a rather new approach, especially as global principles are used to analyze local and national legislation. The results of this research project show that such a principled methodology serves to identify policies and laws that show a truly integrated approach to sustainability, foster respectful cooperation, equitable participation, and fair sharing of resources and benefits of economic, scientific and technological progress. This is particularly true because the ILA Principles are consistent with the 2002 Johannesburg Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development. The Principles help to focus decision-makers’ attention on expected outcomes for all those elements, as well as on governance structures and processes conducive to their effective implementation. Using these Principles for single policy assessment on any governance level may also ensure coherence between diverse legislative developments. After a brief background on the New Delhi Declaration and the importance of food security for sustainable development, the methodology and results of the analysis are presented.
The New Delhi Declaration provides the most current benchmark of important principles of international law on sustainable development [4
]. It was based on a comprehensive and balanced decade of study and analysis by the International Law Association’s (ILA) Committee on the Legal Aspects of Sustainable Development, and it has a high degree of normative clarity. In the last three decades, several global-scale processes have been undertaken to develop principles of international law on sustainable development. These processes (and debates) have been intense, engaging experts and grassroots leaders from all corners of the world, and building on decades of careful, rigorous analysis. The most important undertakings ran parallel to several global policy making processes. The most important of these began with the process of elaborating the 1972 Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm [7
]. That was followed by the 1987 Report of the Legal Experts Group on Principles of International Law for the Protection of the Environment and Sustainable Development, which accompanied the report of the World Commission on Environment and Development (or Brundtland Commission), entitled Our Common Future
]. The Legal Annex to Our Common Future
] was the outcome of years of high level and grassroots global consultations by the World Commission on Environment and Development. It built on the Stockholm Declaration but included a considered legal analysis, commentary and a clear normative proposal for each of its proposed principles. Our Common Future
proposed the adoption of 22 legal principles, divided into four groups, meant to address the challenges identified in the report and to guide future law-making in the areas of environmental protection and sustainable development.
Following up on the recommendations of the report, the International Law Association’s (ILA) Committee on the Legal Aspects of Sustainable Development released its New Delhi ILA Declaration on Principles of International Law relating to Sustainable Development as a Resolution of the 70th Conference of the International Law Association in New Delhi, India, 2–6 April 2002 [16
]. The Declaration notes that “sustainable development is now widely accepted as a global objective and that the concept has been amply recognized in various international and national legal instruments, including treaty law and jurisprudence at international and national levels…” [17
]. It outlines seven principles of international law on sustainable development. These principles, which were already in the Brundtland Report and the 1992 Rio Declaration, are the central principles of most international treaties related to sustainable development. The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation [18
], which was agreed to at the World Summit on Sustainable Development later in 2002, recognized and reaffirmed these principles. (Detailed analysis of the history of sustainability principles is beyond the scope of this paper and can be found elsewhere [11
2.1. Turning Principles into an Assessment Tool for Laws Protecting Future Generations
The seven principles in the ILA are:
The duty of States to ensure sustainable use of natural resources;
The principle of equity and the eradication of poverty;
The principle of the precautionary approach to human health, natural resources and ecosystems;
The principle of public participation and access to information and justice;
The principle of good governance;
The principle of common but differentiated obligations;
The principle of integration and interrelationship, in particular in relation to human rights and social, economic and environmental objectives [20
These norms are not exhaustive and several are not yet recognized as binding rules of customary international law. In some cases, they might never be. However, they are increasingly made operational in binding international treaties, forming part of international law and policy in the field of sustainable development, providing normative context for best policies and laws in the field, as well as in Local Agenda 21 initiatives and national sustainable development strategies. Nico Schrivjer, Chair of the ILA Committee on International Law on Sustainable Development, presented the Principles of the New Delhi Declaration as a “first blueprint for the emerging field of sustainable development law and policy”, as well as a “first crucial and definitive tool” for professionals dealing with policy-making and evaluation [20
]. At the subsequent World Summit on Sustainable Development, Heads of State agreed to “promote coherent and coordinated approaches to institutional frameworks for sustainable development at all national levels, including, as appropriate the establishment or strengthening of existing authorities and mechanisms necessary for policy-making, coordination and implementation and enforcement of laws” [21
]. At the World Summit, the Netherlands identified the New Delhi declaration as responsive to that agreement.
How exactly these benchmarks are met by each assessed policy will of course differ, depending on the legal context that it has been developed for and reflective of each societies’ culture, practices and environmental or economic challenges. The assumption is that a principled assessment of individual laws, regardless of the governance level, will ensure a holistic, qualitative debate on how certain elements of a policy are foreseen to support sustainability. This assessment encourages an integrated perspective on the policy goals that seems particularly relevant in national lawmaking, where environmental, social, economic and cultural challenges are addressed through separate, sometimes even competing departments. Also, all of the challenges for sustainable solutions that are addressed by the principles for international relations find their counterpart on the intranational level as well, where different stakeholder, communities and regions seek to find consensus on integrated equitable solutions that also safeguard opportunities for future generations. Even the principle of common but differentiated obligations, originating from the notion of common heritage of humankind, provides good guidance for national or local relationships where higher wealth usually correlates with higher resource consumption patterns and provides for more economic capacity to carry costs related to environmental protection. Also, paragraph 81 in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation makes explicit reference to the significance of this principle in Agenda 21, suggesting that it not only applies to environmental protection, but also to social development goals such as poverty eradication.
To actually turn the “definitive tool” into a mechanism for policy-making, coordination and implementation, the World Future Council Commission on Future Justice developed a standardized questionnaire on how laws under scrutiny meet the principles. The Council’s work shows that as criteria for the identification, development or amendment of laws for sustainable development, the universal principles provide a useful set of benchmarks that, ideally, establish common design features of future just policies for sustainability.
For the development of such a “best policy” assessment methodology, the Future Justice Commission [22
] met in April 2008 in Santa Barbara to discuss the use of the Delhi Principles in the selection of “best policies” for future generations. Slight changes in the principle on “good governance” were made, as some experts felt the clear association with World Bank standards would evoke mistrust or even rejection in some countries and by some groups. Instead, a focus on Human Security (freedom from fear and freedom from want) was made explicit in the governance principle, building on the definition of the Commission on Human Security led by Amartya Sen: “protect the vital core of all human lives in ways that enhance human freedoms and human fulfillment” [23
With the adoption of the slightly modified principles, the Commission also agreed on a series of objective and inter-related questions that could guide the assessment of individual laws with the goal of identifying leading examples in support of sustainability. The result is a practical questionnaire methodology (presented in the empirical section below) that helps to clarify how a law or policy embodies sustainable development principles and where blind spots may lie. This questionnaire is not restricted to actual mentioning of the principles or related concepts in the legal text, but rather seeks to evaluate the holistic reasoning behind and composite effect of the regulation or regulatory framework assessed. Thus, the “principled criteria” are not meant to provide a “check-list” by which to judge policies so that “the best become the enemy of the good”. Rather, they seek to help policy-makers, civil society and others to evaluate or draft new laws and policies carefully, and to ensure they have taken into account important universal principles. This way, international consensus can serve as a reference framework in the assessment of diverse national developments, supporting policy coherence and potentially serving to overcome existing and very legitimate regional, cultural and technological differences. The identified characteristics and concrete examples of “best policies” can be shared successfully and appropriately, taking into account surrounding legislation and policy contexts which contributed to their success. In essence, this standard seeks to help identify the actions, practices and policies whose adoption could radically enhance the prospects of sustainability of life on our planet, in order to promote the integrity of future generations. Thus, while not all questions on the principles apply to all laws and hardly any law will address all principles explicitly, the methodology allows for a structured assessment of concrete solutions regarding their holistic approach. The goal is not necessarily a ranking, but a standardized selection of leading examples of sustainability policy implementation and the identification of core characteristics that make them successful in intent and effect.
2.2. Food Security as a Fundamental Challenge for Sustainability
Over 1 billion people are currently living under violation of their most fundamental human right, the right to food. Despite increased efforts on the international level to agree an agenda on food security, an unprecedented number of humans still go hungry, and 30,000 children die every day. If humans do not eat, they do not live. Lack of food weakens human health and potential, causes people to lack the strength to be productive, and creates and perpetuates misery, suffering and inequalities. Hungry people also cannot afford to pay attention to the ecological impact of their hunting, planting or harvesting. Securing sufficient and good food in a sustainable manner may be the most fundamental challenge to a peaceful future. Unsurprisingly, eradication of “extreme poverty and hunger” became Millennium Development Goal Number 1 in 2000 [24
Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights subsumes the right to food under the right to “a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and of his family” [25
]. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognizes both the “right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food” and the “fundamental right to be free from hunger” [26
]. The 1996 Rome Declaration on World Food Security hosted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization states that food security “exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy lifestyle. The four pillars of food security are availability, access, utilization and stability. The nutritional dimension is integral to the concept of food security” [27
]. This definition does not necessarily respect other human rights and freedoms, though, but could indeed be fulfilled through dictatorial feeding-programs. Thus, scholars, human rights advocacy organizations and small farming associations have promoted the concept of “food sovereignty” instead, focusing on democracy and participation in the production of food as well.
The recent declaration of the Civil Society Organizations’ Forum in parallel to the international World Summit on Food Security from November 13–17 2009 in Rome asserts that “Food sovereignty entails transforming the current food system to ensure that those who produce food have equitable access to, and control over, land, water, seeds, fisheries and agricultural biodiversity. All people have a right and responsibility to participate in deciding how food is produced and distributed. Governments must respect, protect and fulfill the right to food as the right to adequate, available, accessible, culturally acceptable and nutritious food” [28
]. The concept of food sovereignty resembles the multifunctional approach of food security as defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) where the importance of local, participatory agriculture forms an integral part [29
2.3. Presenting Three “Best Policies” for Food Security
For this first round of principled policy assessment, the World Future Council issued a nomination call to its networks and also conducted a search for candidate laws itself. As a result, three policies were rated as (on balance) meeting the seven principles in a holistic manner, explicitly in the formulation of their goals and also in their actual effect. All pursue a human rights approach to food. This research allowed for the identification of similar characteristics that seem to be fundamental for successful sustainability solutions that should be validated through further assessments.
Under the broad rubric of food policies, there are various interpretations of how problems of food insecurity should be addressed, depending on contextual challenges as well as cultural differences. This was reflected in the nominations: the proposals dealt with various issues at different stages in the food security chain—including agricultural independence from world market prices, local production and consumption circuits, sufficient production without pesticides and within cities, healthy feeding programs, the protection of indigenous breeds for secured biodiversity, and resilience of production. Five policies targeting very different challenges to food security and from four different continents were chosen for a principled screening, ranging from the national to the local level of governance. The difference of the respective objectives within the broader issue of food security provided a good test for the application of universal principles in different legal, social and cultural contexts, as well as to diverse local challenges of the globally agreed goals. The five laws assessed through structured interviews were:
Region of Tuscany, Protection and Promotion of the Heritage of Local Breeds and Plant Varieties, Italy [30
Urban Agriculture, Cuba [31
City of Belo Horizonte Food Security Program, Brazil [32
Kerala State Organic Farming Strategy, India [33
Food Security Strategy, Ethiopia [34
After a first round of interviews, the World Future Council selected three policies for public promotion as very successful examples. The other two policies are not actively promoted for different reasons. The policy in Kerala, even though an impressive example of an integrated approach to food security, has only been in place since 2008—not long enough for its effects to be evaluated. The Ethiopian policy, in contrast, failed in its educational outreach to small-scale farmers because, as became clear in interviewing process, language and media access barriers were underestimated and food insecurity had increased [35
]. A description of the three exemplary policies for food security is presented below, followed by a discussion of the commonalities between the three laws that were identified in the analysis and that seem to be important criteria for their success. The questionnaire used in this research project—which is based on the principles contained in the New Delhi Declaration, is set out in the Appendix
, along with the methodology and standards used to evaluate the results of the archival research and interviews. Out of the three short listed candidates, the City of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, had the most comprehensive and effective policy, explicitly pursuing a human rights based approach and integrating economic, social, ecological and cultural components in a trans-sectoral implementation strategy. The following paragraphs provide summaries of the laws assessed with brief reference to the principles.
2.3.1. Region of Tuscany, Protection and Promotion of the Heritage of Local Breeds and Varieties of Agricultural, Zootechnical and Forestry Interest
Tuscany’s Law is a good example of how local and regional governments can take responsible and concerted action to protect seed diversity and allow small farmers to have more control in the conservation of particular “noncommercial” seeds and varieties. The fundamental idea behind Regional Law No. 64/2004 on the protection and promotion of the heritage of local breeds is the right to use collective heritage. Seed biodiversity is seen as necessary for the survival of species and the safeguarding of rural heritage. This law establishes a regional register of conservation varieties, with the aim of enabling commercialisation of such varieties, once the appropriate quantitative restrictions are made. The law protects seed varieties as “natural insurance” for the future of society and protects the rights of farmers as legitimate trustees of this resource. This law’s forerunner, regional Law No. 50/1997 “Protection of the autochthonous genetic resources”, had principally scientific aims in recording local breeds and varieties. Regional Law No. 64/2004 integrated the scientific aims of the previous law with economic and social goals. Building onto the listing of local breeds and varieties, so that their characteristics and also samples would be recorded, the expanded law is geared toward the actual use and cultivation of diversified crops as a common heritage. The law makes it possible to exchange limited quantities of propagation material and to market limited quantities of seeds not currently commercialized. In this outset the law meets several of the sustainable law principles, from the duty to protect the environment over equity and poverty eradication, precaution and the integration of economic, development and environmental goals.
Operationally, the law first requires the identification of the resource (characterization, on site-survey, assessment), then conservation (on farm and ex-situ) and lastly the enhancement or promotion of the breeds and the guarantee of collective use of local breeds (local projects, branding, information). Measures include the establishment of germplasm banks; the nomination of “custodian” farmers; the development of networks between growers, custodians and regional germ banks; the promotion of a regional brand for marketing; community fora for engagement; and the forging of research and development links. Other provisions encourage the registration of native varieties and species in biodiversity conservation catalogues as well as the use of these varieties and species in the agricultural sector. The law is premised on the view that seed biodiversity is necessary for the survival of species, for safeguarding rural heritage and for building resilience of farming. The law also promotes and protects local breeds and varieties and their cycles of reproduction and ensures that farmers have access to sharing local seeds and knowledge, giving value to local organic agriculture as a model for economically, culturally and environmentally sound livelihoods. The law involves the Tuscan Regional Government, the Ministry for Agriculture, the ARSIA (Regional agency for development and innovation the farming and forestry sector), nongovernmental organizations, “custodian” farmers, other farmers, and local community citizens. These provisions and processes cater to the principles of transparency, access to information, participation, governance, human security, and to a certain degree common but differentiated obligations through the aims to prevent seeds from becoming patented, guaranteeing access to all humans that want to grow food. Also, underpinning the law is the notion that the varieties and knowledge of seeds in regional areas are a collective right.
Tuscany has been at the forefront in denouncing the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), in promoting organic farming and in safeguarding the genetic heritage of the region. Civil society and government partnerships in Tuscany were instrumental in the construction of a network of regional and local governments, public and private entities and movements on sustainable, biodiverse and GMO free food systems. This resulted in the creation of the International Commission on the Future of Food and Agriculture in 2003, a group which seeks to shape a new future of food in which small farmers´ livelihoods are economically and culturally vibrant and ecologically resilient.
As a result of the law, hundreds of breeds have been registered on the regional register and are being protected both in- and ex-situ, proving its effectiveness. Also, many other regional governments in Italy have adopted a similar law, whereas an upscaling to the national level currently seems unlikely, mainly because of potential conflict with other intellectual property interests and European regulation. In terms of transferability to other contexts, the idea of collectivity is not known in every country. However, interviewed experts noted that the collective rights seen in Italy also exist in Spain. There are some remnants of this idea in France, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands. In many other areas, such as Africa, the notion of collective rights still exists. Thus, this idea could likely be transferred to an Asian and African context. Small farmers are marginalised in many areas by the rules of conventional food systems and sustainability strategies often declare this to be one of the fundamental shortcomings in current development patterns. Collective rights provide a tool of empowerment that could be at the core of new solutions. Public engagement and strong political will would nonetheless be needed to go against modern “accepted norms” and the direction that the European Union or international agreements on intellectual property rights foresee.
2.3.2. Cuban Urban Agriculture
Since the early 1990s, an urban agriculture movement has swept through Cuba, reaching rural areas as well. Originally it resulted from pure necessity when the fall of the Soviet Union meant the loss of more than 50 percent of oil imports, much of Cuba’s food, and 85 percent of its trade economy. In response to severe shortages in food, pesticides and petroleum, people began cultivating vegetables wherever they could, including lots in downtown Havana and other urban spaces throughout the island. The urban agriculture movement was first led by the people but policy makers, after initial recalcitrance, realized the potential of the movement and invested in its development. There had been some research into urban agriculture prior to the crisis, but by the Ministry of Defence, which was making provision for a potential embargo, rather than the Ministry for Agriculture.
The government’s first and most important step was to officially license unused space to be utilized for cultivation. That step was taken with the adoption of Law No. 142 of 1994, relating to usufruct ownership of land. The law makes it relatively easy for individuals or groups of people to gain access and usufruct ownership of land that is not productive, clearly meeting the principles on poverty eradication and also common but differentiated obligations and integration when the production of food overrules other ownership claims and construction plans. Since then, Cuba has developed a comprehensive and detailed policy framework for urban agriculture. This framework of policies has evolved with the challenges it has faced. Existing rules and regulations governing the agriculture/livestock sector have been adapted and adjusted, and others were adopted specifically for the purpose of urban agriculture. These other laws support public research and development of highly diversified, organic production technologies and fertilizers; the provision of high quality seed and technical advice, information and education services; and the encouragement of on-site vending were added over the years. As a result, organic urban farming makes very efficient use of whatever plot of land is available, is a source of employment for many persons, and provides fresh produce with zero transportation costs or emissions.
The main purpose of this framework is to encourage production and consumption of nutritious food, to increase the variety of nutritious food available to people, to supplement the basic rations guaranteed for every citizen, and to encourage community participation. The idea is produce food locally and to distribute it as close to the source as possible. Every member of the population—not just those who are nutrient deficient or vulnerable to food shortages—is encouraged to become involved in urban agriculture, whether through production, consumption or education. The program particularly addresses the needs of children, the youth, workers and the elderly.
This framework is continually developed and includes very detailed expertise and support schemes. The state provides infrastructure and low-interest loans. Many different types of production are carried out ranging from patio and terrace planting to intensive gardens to organoponicos (walled beds) to small, diversified farms. Most of these are registered and monitored by the municipal department. Extension agents are employed to assist and inform gardeners about technology, biofertilizers, composting, and recycling. The government also supports research and technology development. The state encourages on-site sale and also subsidizes rents for farmers markets in central locations.
The Ministry of Agriculture set up the National Urban Agriculture Group (Grupa Nacional de Agricultura Urbana), which also has provincial and municipal groups, to promote urban agriculture. Administration is handled by the Services office (Granjas Urbanas), which has responsibility for training and service provision. State linked enterprises (Empresa) are involved in marketing and sales, while community consultative groups are set up in each area (Consejo Popular) to enable participation and representation of citizens. In its evolving intent and effect the law therefore also meets the duty to protect the environment, precaution, participation and access to information as well as governance and human security in the sense that individuals are empowered to cater for themselves if necessary.
Urban agriculture has had a significant impact on nutrition and food security by increasing access to fresh fruit and vegetables. It has also increased the use of organic and sustainable farming and composting methods, reduced food prices, provided employment, and led to greater education and community participation. Informants speak very highly of the government’s policy development in this area and are especially impressed with how comprehensive and far reaching it is. The number of jobs created, range and output of produce cultivated, and the number and diversity of projects developed are all very high. No other country in the world has such a comprehensive and regulated system for urban agriculture with such highly defined objectives, detailed projected outputs, and which integrate environmental, social and economic objectives. Critics note that food is still sold on the black market or is only available with foreign currency.
The Cuban urban agriculture policy framework is an example of an extremely regulated system. Some have also said that such a system could not work in other countries where greater availability of oil and gas make it less obviously necessary. Others, however, say that elements of the policy framework could be easily replicated in other countries and would be a potential answer to many problems in modern cities. Organic, locally produced and distributed food with negligible transportation costs, and the transformation of abandoned spaces into “green” and productive areas, could be attractive in many other contexts, civil society movements are starting across the globe.
2.3.3. Belo Horizonte, Food Security Program
The Belo Horizonte, Brazil, food security program was first implemented in 1993 and has since become increasingly comprehensive. In 2004 the program became a role model for the national strategy to fight hunger of the new Lula da Silva government. In 2006 Belo Horizonte issued a law securing the permanence of the more comprehensive policy.
In 1993, a time of social mobilization against hunger and misery, the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers’ Party) was elected in Belo Horizonte. Belo Horizonte’s approximately two million citizens were experiencing food insecurity because of high prices, uneven distribution of food outlets throughout the 350 square-kilometre city, and various problems in urban infrastructure. The city’s food security law, Municipal Law No. 6,352, 15/07/1993, which was enacted shortly thereafter, sets out a policy framework for food security and created the Municipal Secretariat of Food Supply (SMAB), the body responsible for the development of its programs. The goal of the law was to improve both food availability (sustainable production) and food accessibility (affordable prices, local control). Since then there has been an evolution, whereby existing rules and regulations have been adapted and adjusted.
The municipal government recognizes citizens’ rights to “adequate quantity and quality of food” and a “duty of governments to guarantee this right”. It therefore manages the provision and distribution of food to groups and parts of the city where this right is threatened. Every member of the population who may be food insecure, but also those who are not food insecure, is deemed to have the right of access to and availability of nutritious and quality food. The vulnerable are guaranteed highly nutritious food (for example in schools and hospitals), while the marginalized are given access to low cost produce directly in their areas of residence. The city invests in community food sovereignty programs that address health, social equality, job creation, diversified agriculture, and the encouragement of local food production. The outset of this policy clearly meets the principles on poverty eradication and equity and precaution towards the health of the population and the production of food.
Although the recognition of the right to food security is an important element, the policy goes much further and promises the delivery of the service by following a systemic approach that includes food producers, distributors, and consumers. According to interviewed experts, the means and methods of delivery are far superior to any other system. The law applies to every stage of the food chain, including research and development of (increasingly organic and also urban) farming technology, credits for family farmers and support of farmers markets, waste disposal, decentralized distribution, feeding and health education programs, operation of popular restaurants and, recently, financial assistance. The program also includes a formal evaluation process. In these provisions the principles of governance and human security, participation and access to information, and the protection of natural resources find reflection.
A wide range of projects have been developed to help large groups of people. The idea of “food with dignity” permeates the whole program. Examples of these projects are a school meals program, the use of popular restaurants to provide subsidized food, local markets for food, and a “direct from the countryside” scheme. Community participation and engagement, workshops, and incentives for involvement are all supported and managed by an efficient, flexible and decentralized administration. The federal government provides some of the funding, but due to Brazil’s system of decentralization, most of the power is in the hands of the municipal government, particularly the SMAB. Separate departments within the SMAB are responsible for prevention and reduction of malnutrition, food distribution and availability, and food production and facilitation. Under a 1994 municipal law, civil society organisations, farmers and citizens all play an important role in the scheme. Here, the notions of integration, and to some extent common but differentiated obligations, come into play: supermarkets donate leftover food to the program and small farmers participating in the scheme use unproductive private property around the city. Yet, the question of land ownership remains a source of conflict and the government has not found a satisfying solution until today.
With this policy framework, Belo Horizonte has succeeded in mainstreaming food security issues into public policy and provides a model that has “unpacked” poverty. What has emerged is a highly effective but low cost scheme using less than 2% of the city’s annual budget (approx. US$9 million). There has been greater access to and availability of nutritious and fresh produce, a decrease in child mortality, a reduction in childhood and adult malnutrition, increased and stable income for farmers in the surrounding areas, and an increase in local and organic food production and consumption. It is a labor intensive project, which requires much organization and commitment. Some say that it would not work in other cities, as its success may be a result of individual commitment and the political culture in Belo Horizonte. Transferred to a larger scale, it might be opposed by agro-industrial companies, food manufacturers, and retailers if they perceived such a program as economically threatening. Still, its success and durability make it a highly attractive model that outlines a solution particular for contexts in which sufficient food is technically available but not accessible for the poor and marginalized groups of the population.
2.4. Results and Commonalities of the Evaluated “Best Policies”
These three policies incorporate a human rights approach to food. They all view people as citizens with skills to participate in ensuring human rights rather than as market participants or consumers. In the case of food security this means making available resources accessible for as many citizens as possible. Depending on the particular challenges, the type of resource was different: The Belo Horizonte Food Security Program ensures access to food through free meals and supports local production and distribution. The Cuba Urban Agriculture Policy ensures access to land necessary to grow enough food and promotes local production and distribution. The Tuscany Plant Heritage Policy ensures access to seeds, enabling farmers to save, protect and use them, which promotes local production and distribution and prevents exclusion because of private commercial patenting.
Interviews have underscored the fact that the encouragement of local food production was the most important policy program from a medium to long-term perspective. While emergency help is necessary in acute moments of crisis, sovereignty in the control over the whole food chain addresses the goals of food security and sustainable development through four important, interrelated effects:
Poverty reduction—incomes of often poor small farmers close to the city rise while more people can buy the food they need.
Rural sustainability—farmers can stay on their land instead of migrating to the overcrowded city with high unemployment and poverty rates.
Healthy nutrition—family agriculture increases the availability of fresh and health-promoting food for all citizens not produced by big farms aimed at export scales.
Price stability—increased local production reduces disturbances through volatile world market prices impacting imported goods.
The assessment of future just policies not only looks at the intent of a law, but also at its actual effects, addressing the processes of governance and determination to develop upon evaluation of the impacts. The assessment reports showed that the most important success factors for effective policy implementation
have been the following:
Transparent public communication and education on the goals and strategies.
Organized citizen participation and multiple public-private partnerships.
Clear organization with the bundling of tasks under one distinct agency with its own budget and continuously adapting the program through evaluation.
Addressing food security in its entire chain of production and consumption.
Securing the right to food through legislation resilient to government changes.
The interesting result here is that the empirical findings about most effective policies in practice do support the universal principles addressing governance processes (principles four to seven). The first three principles find reflection in the actual and explicit policy goals, responding to scientific evidence, treaty obligations, higher moral standards, or constitutional rights (the duty to ensure sustainable use of resources, equity and the eradication of poverty, the precautionary principle).
One additional important aspect for successful policy implementation is of course dedicated commitment and smart leadership in order to organize different sectors and one-issue bodies behind one integrated program. This became very clear when meeting with the 1993 Mayor of Belo Horizonte, Patrus Ananias (now national Minister for Social Affairs and the Fight against Hunger) and his assistant, Adriana Aranha. With the establishment of the Belo Horizonte Secretariat for Food Policy and Supply (SMAAB), Ananias ensured that tackling hunger was no longer a matter of “emergency help” Instead, access to healthy food for all became a measure of social justice that was integrated into policy making across departments, where root causes and structural issues could be considered. As Aranha summarizes: “The subject of food security is broad. I believe there is a responsibility that has to be divided. The market has responsibility, the state has responsibility, and society has responsibility. It reaches from production to consumption, encompasses issues of sustainability and the environment. It does no good if people are producing food in a way that compromises future generations” [36
All three policies fare high in meeting the seven principles adopted by the International Law Association. They show a truly integrated approach to sustainability and foster respectful cooperation, equitable participation, and fair sharing of resources as well as of the benefits of economic, scientific and technological progress.