Food Security, Citizen-Science and Environmental Governance in Effective Policymaking

This project is a partnership between the University of Vermont and Vermont Law School (VLS) to build local capacities in citizen science, regional governance, and data-driven, outcome-oriented policymaking for ensuring inclusive and improved agricultural growth, natural resource management and food security in rapidly growing urban agglomerations.  Working collaboratively with domestic institutions, this Partnership for Food Security Policy (PFSP) will provide training, methodologies, support, and practical interventions for addressing some of the most urgent global food security challenges for major population centers of the region.  Pollution, sustainability, resiliency in the face of climate change, natural resource conservation, food access and food safety, and peri-urban conflicts over land use are among the more visible of the issues faced by a range of stakeholders, particularly marginalized groups including slum dwellers, the working poor, indigenous populations and women.  Indeed, such problems have become globally recognized as major barriers to achieving both national priorities and improving international economic and social conditions as articulated by the Millennium Development Goals.  This project is premised on the view that sustaining increases in inclusive agricultural growth requires a reorientation of international and domestic policies to place sound community-based knowledge, environmental governance and natural resource management at the heart of efforts to support food security objectives.  This requires not only embracing alternative ‘green’ economic models and development strategies by governments and the international community but also an innovative approach to understanding the challenges and implementing solutions.  Our project therefore proposes a model of iterative and interactive data collection, policy formulation, and capacity building such that the global food security challenge (as explored through these particular localized cases) is simultaneously addressed from ‘above and below’.   Paying particular attention to the questions of inclusive agricultural growth, enhanced nutrition, natural resource management and climate change resiliency, this project suggests that global food security policy will be significantly strengthened if pursued within a holistic framework that respects natural resource constraints as well as the value of local knowledge.  Accordingly this project proposes a template for incorporating citizen science and local governance into law and policymaking for supporting global food security goals.