Policy Briefs

CDE Policy Briefs provide useful research insights on important development issues. The series offers accessible, timely and policy relevant information on topics such as global change, innovations, sustainable development, natural resources, ecosystem services, governance, livelihoods, and disparities.

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Sustainable landscapes: How can the private sector contribute?

Landscapes in a coffee-growing region of Colombia

Pressures on landscapes and people driven by soaring global consumption call for innovative solutions to enable sustainability. This policy brief highlights the promise and challenges of sustainability-oriented landscape approaches involving the private sector, as well as how existing landscape initiatives might be improved.

Bittersweet fruits of ‘miracle growth’: Identifying poverty and labour dynamics in coffee heartlands

Women sorting cherries at a coffee washing station in Western Rwanda

When it comes to fighting poverty, the prescription of most economists is growth. This means growth of agriculture in many low-income countries where production of food and commodity crops is the biggest employer. But there are risks. Based on evidence from the coffee heartlands of Rwanda and Laos, this policy brief highlights tools for measuring the impacts of agricultural growth on poverty in rural areas.

The price of fairness: Tackling mispricing of commodity exports from poor countries

For decades, countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America have remained trapped in poverty despite continuously exporting valuable commodities with which they are richly endowed. This policy brief outlines one of the key causes of this harmful, unjust phenomenon: trade mispricing. More importantly, it introduces a raft of measures that can be taken to stop revenue losses from trade mispricing.

Free Days for Future?

Mainstream modes of working and consuming in rich countries are eroding our social and ecological foundations. Advocates of a shorter workweek point to a possible triple dividend from working less. This policy brief summarizes how reduced working hours could benefit our well-being, economies, and the natural world.

Unlocking knowledge for sustainability

CDE and its partners have refined effective, transformative approaches to help solve current crises and train future change agents. This policy brief outlines lessons from CDE’s long-term experience in tackling shared challenges through inclusive, globe-spanning research and education.

Agricultural cooperatives: Finding strength in numbers

Despite their fundamental importance, many small farmers lead lives of deepening vulnerability. Alternative agricultural models are urgently needed. One long-running movement still shows major untapped potential: that of agricultural cooperatives. These can enable smaller food producers to band together and access markets without losing control of their land, livelihoods, or food sovereignty.

Making food systems safer: Time to curb use of highly hazardous pesticides

Photo: shutterstock.com

Many commonly used pesticides – especially in developing countries – are now considered “highly hazardous” by experts due to their proven or likely harms to nature and people. This policy brief outlines key harms and research findings, highlights alternatives to pesticide-intensive agriculture, and calls for phasing out the riskiest substances.

Inequality: What’s in a word?

Photo: Daniel Albanese

The shockwaves of the global financial crisis continue to be felt. While polarizing tendencies have spread through politics, the discourse around economics has opened up. Instead of poverty, people are talking about inequality. It’s an issue that calls attention to the bigger picture.

A burning challenge: Making biomass cooking fuels sustainable in East Africa

Photo: Lyell/alamy.com

In East Africa people still rely on time-tested, “bottom-rung” energy sources like wood and charcoal. With proper resource management and improved cookstoves, use of biomass fuels like wood and biogas could be made more sustainable, while helping meet people's cooking-energy needs.

Enough is good enough: Sufficiency to curb resource overconsumption

Photo: Anu Lannen

Despite widespread implementation of various measures to increase efficiency, global consumption of resources continues to rise. This policy brief considers how practising a sufficient lifestyle may help to decrease resource consumption and enable a good life.

Shifting water demands onto the vulnerable? Water impacts of agricultural trade and investment

Photo: shutterstock.com / Keantian

Worldwide, people’s water uses contribute to an increasingly complex web of “virtual” water flows implied in agricultural production, trade, and investment. This policy brief examines key issues, with a particular focus on the water risks of market-driven agricultural investment in developing countries.

Commercial Horticulture in Kenya: Adapting to Water Scarcity

Photo: Julie Zähringer

Commercial horticulture is Kenya’s second largest foreign exchange earner, exporting flowers and vegetables to Europe in particular. The economic benefits must be weighed carefully against social and environmental risks.

Sustainable livestock production? Industrial agriculture versus pastoralism

Photo: shutterstock.com

People who herd animals or combine livestock keeping and cropping at a smaller scale – called pastoralists or agro-pastoralists – can sustainably produce animal products while providing vital ecosystem services.

Shaping EU trade agreements to support human rights

Photo: shutterstock.com / Don Mammoser

This policy brief describes how integration of Human Rights Impact Assessments in EU trade policy can help ensure sustainable trade regimes that do not cause harm.

Saving soils at degradation frontlines: sustainable land management in drylands

Photo: E. van den Elsen

Healthy soils are under threat. Preserving and restoring healthy soils in drylands is possible. Sustainable land management points the way.

The formalization fix? Land titling and land concessions in Cambodia

Photo: Michael B. Dwyer

This brief examines the case of Cambodia, where over the last decade extensive land titling efforts have occurred alongside a wave of large-scale land concessions.

On the right path? Land concessions in Laos

Photo: shutterstock.com / Denis Rozan

This policy brief provides insights drawn from the national inventory of land concessions and leases, the most comprehensive accounting of land deals to date.

Land deals intensify competition for scarce resources

Photo: Patrick Bottazzi

This policy brief identifies the types of land targeted by investors and reveals key socio-ecological patterns of such deals.

Beyond biofuels: jatropha’s multiple uses for farmers in East Africa

Photo: Brigitte Portner

Today, jatropha’s value in East Africa appears to lie primarily in its multipurpose use by small-scale farmers, not in large-scale biofuel production.