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PROJECTS

 

SUPPORTING NGO ADVOCACY

In 2016 when China hosted the G20 Summit, Chinese NGOs wanted to organize a global NGO network to call for better food and agricultural policies during the meeting, but lacked connections to groups in other countries and experience lobbying the G20.

At the request of China’s Social Resources Institute (SRI), I added a number of global food and farm groups to their contact list, then facilitated an international workshop in Beijing where participants agreed on a set of policy proposals and strategy for advocacy. After the Summit, SRI reported that language in support of the rights and livelihoods of small farmers was included in the official communique because of the efforts of our coalition.

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PROGRAM EVALUATION

Until very recently, domestic violence in China was still treated by authorities as a “family matter” and victims were often ignored or even blamed for the violence committed against them. In the early 2000s, Chinese feminist scholars and NGOs formed the China Anti-Domestic Violence Network and initiated a variety of projects, from grassroots to policy making levels, to change this situation.

I was hired by the Network’s funders to assess its progress and provide recommendations. The very things that made the Network important – the number of groups involved, the challenges of making progress on a problem deeply rooted in cultural and legal tradition, and the different levels of work and strategies used – also made it a challenging subject for evaluation. By refining the inquiry and focusing on the functions of the Secretariat, I managed to design and complete a robust evaluation that satisfied the funders’ requirements while providing useful feedback to the Network, all within ambitious budgetary and time constraints.

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The massive impacts of China’s food agriculture system reach far beyond the country’s borders, but cultural, political and disciplinary differences make it hard for civil society groups inside and outside the country to cooperate on developing solutions.

Working with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, I developed a new information platform about China’s food system and the civil society groups working to help China feed itself with fewer adverse social, environmental and health impacts. (www.ChinaFoodWatch.com) The site includes a directory of sixty organizations, a news feed and a resource library.

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ENVIRONMENTAL FOUNDATION EXCHANGE

China’s nascent philanthropic sector is seeking opportunities to learn from more established foundations around the world, and environmental foundations all over the world have come to see that China’s development path has global implications.

I supported the Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA) distance learning course on China’s environment, and drew on my extensive networks in China to design and lead a ten-day intensive study tour for EGA members. I also served as coordinator for a four-year EGA fellowship program that brought Chinese foundation staff to attend the EGA annual conference.

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FINANCING A BETTER FOOD SYSTEM IN CHINA

A growing proportion of China's demand for food is being met by large-scale industrial farms and food corporations, with devastating impacts on rural communities and the environment. There is a better way: farms, cooperatives and businesses that follow ecological and fair trade principles are springing up all over the country. But these new food businesses have been handicapped by lack of access to skills and financing.


I am working with social finance expert Matthew McGarvey to design an impact investment fund to fill this crucial gap. We will use a two-stage, blended finance approach to help innovative, high-impact projects raise their game and then provide financing to take them to long-term growth and sustainability.  The fund is in development, and we will finance the first tranche of projects in 2019.

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SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

 

CHINA’S ROLE IN GREENING GLOBAL VALUE CHAINS: A SPECIAL POLICY PAPER FOR CHINA COUNCIL FOR INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT

December 7, 2016

In 2016, I was invited to join a team of trade and environment experts to write a report with recommendations for how China might promote more sustainable global supply chains. We chose six commodities -- seafood, soy, palm oil, cotton, forest products and copper – and surveyed the impacts associated with international trade and the current state of sustainability efforts. We outlined the available policy tools, and our recommendations highlighted the need for China to take the lead globally in a “green re-boot” of global value chains.

“IS FAMINE THE NEW NORM?” CARNEGIE COUNCIL POLICY INNOVATIONS WEBSITE

February 15, 2011

When food prices spiked in 2008 and the ranks of the world’s hungry topped one billion for the first time in history, the result was a lot of finger-pointing and panic about the future of global food security. Based on our research at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, I wrote this short piece explaining the actual roots of the food crisis and providing some common-sense recommendations for how to build the resilience of food systems and support the small farmers in the Global South who grow most of the world’s food.

“RECENT TRENDS IN FORESTRY AND THE CONSERVATION OF BIODIVERSITY IN CHINA” CHINA QUARTERLY, NO. 156, SPECIAL ISSUE: CHINA’S ENVIRONMENT, PP. 911-934.

December 1998

In the 1990s, insatiable demand from China’s rapidly-growing economy seemed destined to strip the country bare of its natural forests and wipe out much of its globally-significant biodiversity in the process. At the request of the academic journal China Quarterly, I wrote this historical analysis of how the various twists and turns of political and economic policies since 1949 had created this crisis, and described the growing efforts by the Chinese government and a nascent environmental movement to protect the country’s forests and biodiversity.

 

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©2018 by Jim Harkness