Hivos International

Hivos has a long history of working on issues concerning food, agriculture and biodiversity. Research has and continues to underpin many of our projects in the field, and contributes to broader debates on sustainable food. In our view, citizens should be centre-stage in a transition towards sustainable and inclusive food production and consumption. Signs of the required transformation are emerging worldwide, luckily. In local communities, small enterprises are launching sustainable food products. How do those frontrunners opt for change? How do their efforts effect soil fertility and agricultural biodiversity? In addition to the environmental impact of sustainable food production, this dossier also includes publications and knowledge articles on decent wages for farmers, gender inclusiveness and leadership in transitions towards sustainable food.   

Working with Millions of Farmers Worldwide

The research done in the Agrobiodiversity @ Knowledged programme produced an extensive amount of knowledge. Oxfam Novib and Hivos initiated this programme in 2011 after a partnership of over eight years managing the Biodiversity Fund. At the heart of the programme is a global community of organisations, working with millions of farmers worldwide, generating an impressive amount of knowledge and experience. They produced, shared and tested evidence and insights on how the much-needed transformation towards resilience and sustainable production could be accelerated. In this dossier, you will find publications on changes in livestock management, food for thought on how change happens, case studies highlighting agroecology successes in Africa and studies on nutritional values of rice varieties. Topics that have gained momentum in the agricultural biodiversity community and are expected to further influence debates in the public domain are ‘open source seed systems’, ‘community resilience assessment’ and public tools for policy transformation such as data carriers (Seed Map).

Coffee as a Leading Indicator

Another volume of research contains Hivos’ long-standing work in the coffee sector. Coffee is regarded as a lead indicator for sustainable commodity crops; it often sets the pace and others follow. Together with partner organisations, we published the Coffee Barometer, which discusses developments in the coffee market, focusing on sustainability standards and certification.

For these and more insights about sustainable food production and consumption, do browse through this dossier! Are you looking for a specific publication? Use our publication search.

Other Knowledge Dossiers

Citizen Action

Citizens are central actors in public and political arenas. Their ability to hold governments to account and to participate fully in democratic processes is contingent upon the opportunities to freely assemble, associate and express opinions. Around the globe citizens are claiming their rights, rising up to injustices occurring and proposing alternatives. They use “old” methods of social movements and “new” instruments such as social media. Increasingly citizens are also reaching out to a global constituency; think of Occupy, the protests against Monsanto and TTIP.

Gender and Sexual Rights

In the field of Gender and Sexual Rights, Hivos has a long and remarkable history.  We were one of the first organisations that campaigned for sexual rights, including lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBTs), but also men who have sex with men (MSM) without considering themselves to be homosexual. In the field of women’s rights, we have been supporting women all over the world to organise themselves and become a countervailing power in their societies. In both domains, we seek new ways to bring about change in people’s mindsets.

Green and Inclusive Energy

Climate change and sustainable energy production are high on the political agenda. However, public debate generally focuses on how the use of fossil fuels can be reduced. Much less attention is given to the lack of energy access for people living in developing countries. Remarkably, the solution to both issues is the same: renewable energy. In its projects, Hivos aims to demonstrate that green and inclusive energy is not a pipe dream or an alternative, but simply the best choice. Our research informs our stance in the debate and reflects on our projects in the field.

Methods of Change

We are constantly seeking to improve our understanding of the world's workings and our place in it. To us, social innovation is a means to an end, or better yet, a way to contribute to a free, fair and sustainable world. But what does that mean in practice? It means working with a broad range of stakeholders in multi-actor initiatives and conducting “Change Labs”. It means having a user-centered approach and co-creating solutions with the people we want to reach.


Pluralism and diversity are essential ingredients of a dynamic society. Yet, ingrained values, acquired privileges and established power structures often limit the acceptance people have for different values, identities and religions. In too many places around the world, people are faced with intolerance. Where belief or value systems become absolute - leaving no room for alternative interpretations - and are imposed on others, we speak of 'fundamentalism'. Fundamentalism threatens the peaceful co-existence of people belonging to different ethnic, social, religious or cultural groups.

Transitions in the Middle East and North Africa

Since the outbreak of the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in 2011, the region is undergoing tectonic shifts. The pace, quality and quantity of political and social changes are unprecedented. In short, the MENA region is the scene of historic revolutions and counter-revolutions. In such a rapidly changing context, conventional wisdom about static societies and states in the MENA do not make sense and are out of context. There is no shortage of knowledge produced in the West about MENA.