Secretariat: What are Switzerland’s priorities in its engagement in agriculture, rural development and food systems? Could you share some examples of collaboration and coordination with other donors in these areas?
Bruce: Food systems are vastly complex, so at SDC, we narrowed our field of operations to a smaller number of interrelated areas that are manageable and represent Switzerland's core added value. These are health, nutrition, inclusive market systems and agroecological food production.
We link consumption and production through inclusion of the private sector. We case this in a context of enhanced global governance to ensure we're taking the big picture into account. We link our work with the global dialogues and priorities of our partners and co-donors.
Organizations and mechanisms we're working with along with other donors include the SUN Donor Network, the International Land Coalition or the recently created Transformative Partnership Platform on Agroecology working closely with the European Union and France, and coalitions of the UN Food Systems Summit where we're engaged on agroecology and healthy diets from sustainable food systems. Initiatives to unlock the potential of the private sector, and in particular impact investors, include bilaterally the Small Safety Net Upscaling Programme (SSNUP) and Aceli Africa. Larger multilateral organizations include CGIAR and IFAD and private sector foundations.
Cooperation has always been important to SDC. We need as many brains and purses as possible around the table to make the impact we want. We've been adopting a food systems approach to sustainable and resilient food security. This is reflected in the name change of our organizational unit to “food systems section”.
Secretariat: Against the backdrop of multiple global crises, how do we, as donors, balance the need to increase resilience in rural populations while making sure emergencies also receive sufficient support? And what is Switzerland doing in this regard?
Bruce: It is incumbent upon us to provide humanitarian assistance that saves lives and avert suffering in the short term, but we also have to continue thinking about long-term solutions.
SDC recently underwent a reorganization to set the humanitarian-development-peace nexus more centre stage and tie this approach to other strengths, such as decentralization of funds to enable rapid resource mobilization and linking with our partners. We try to respond to situations as they develop, placing funding decisions as close to the recipient populations as possible. This means our country offices have more autonomy in the way they place funding amongst organizations or how they initiate programmes and projects.
Switzerland works closely with UN agencies for emergency assistance. But we make sure we do not relent on longer-term solutions, and we see the private sector as an important source of innovation and finance for transforming food systems.