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Ep51: Jessica Duncan on COP28 and who shapes food policy

Episode summary

Food systems are finally getting more attention at global climate conversations. But who is at the table shaping our food futures?  We caught up with Jessica Duncan, Associate Professor on the Politics of Food Systems Transformation at Wageningen University, to hear her thoughts and concerns about COP 28.

Then we re-air our previous conversation with Jessica Duncan from May 2021, where we talk about dialogue and participation in food policy, why we shouldn’t always be seeking consensus, and the importance of bringing local actors into global policy conversations. We unpack Jessica and Priscilla Claeys' 2020 report Covid19, Gender and Food systems and discuss what is gained by "viewing the crisis from below".

[ Transcript available ]

About Jessica Duncan

Jessica Duncan is Associate Professor in the Politics of Food Systems Transformation in the Rural Sociology at Wageningen University (the Netherlands). She holds a PhD in Food Policy from City University London (2014).

Jessica’s main research focus concerns the practices and politics of participation in food policy processes, particularly the relationships (formal and non-formal) between governance organisations, systems of food provisioning, the environment, and the actors engaged in and across these spaces. More specifically, she maps the diverse ways that actors participate in policy-making processes, analysing how the resulting policies are shaped, implemented, challenged, and resisted, and she theorises about what this means for socio-ecological transformation. Participation and engagement are at the core of her approach. In turn, she is active in a broad range of local, national and international initiatives with the aim of better understanding participation processes with a view towards transitioning to just and sustainable food systems.

Jessica has received several awards for her teaching and in 2017 she was awarded Teacher of the Year for Wageningen University (shortlisted again in 2018 and 2019, longlisted in 2020). With the funds she has received for these awards she launched a story-telling workshop for students and faculty. Jessica is a founding board member of the Centre for Unusual Collaborations and sits on the Editorial Board of the journal Sociologia Ruralis. From 2019 to 2022 she sat as an expert on the EU’s Standing Committee for Agricultural Research’s Foresight Team.


Background reading and resources

Jessica Duncan and Priscilla Claeys' open-access articles

COVID-19, Gender and Food systems (Duncan and Claeys, 2020)

Politicizing food security governance through participation: opportunities and opposition (Duncan and Claeys, 2018)

Do we need to categorize it? Reflections on constituencies and quotas as tools for negotiating difference in the global food sovereignty convergence space (Claeys and Duncan, 2019)

From Food Sovereignty to Peasants’ Rights (Claeys, 2013)

Additional resources

What is the CSM (Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism)

CSM Letter to CFS chair on the UN Food Systems Summit

STEPS Centre

Chantal Mouffe: Why the left needs a political adversary not a moral enemy


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