African Food Systems Transformation and Justice Challenge Cluster

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: School of Earth and Environment


The imperative of transformation in African agriculture and food systems has been brought into sharp focus through the UNFCCC commitments under the Paris agreement, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the recent IPCC reports on climate impacts in a 1.5C world, amongst other high profile global initiatives. The importance and difficulty of ensuring that such transformation takes place in a way that is socially and environmentally inclusive and equitable, makes just transformation a global grand challenge. The GCRF- African Food Systems Transformation and Justice Challenge Cluster will contribute to new ways of thinking about transformative change, such that justice and equity are brought to the forefront of how donor-led projects, private investments, and agriculture and food policy is designed. It will offer approaches and guidelines for how to achieve, monitor and evaluate justice and equity in such interventions.

The GCRF-African Food Systems Transformation and Justice Challenge Cluster brings together African and international, GCRF-funded scholars, representing 8 GCRF projects, operating across 8 African countries. Through the involvement the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research's Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CGIAR-CCAFS) Initiative, and CARE International the consortium covers a pan-African geographic scope and multiple pathways to stakeholder engagement, influence and impact.

The Cluster team will undertake a synthesis review of evidence emerging from across the portfolio of GCRF- and non-GCRF-funded activity that they represent. This review will be developed into a conceptual framework for understanding and analysing justice in agriculture and food systems transformations in Africa. Case study profiles of existing and ongoing transformative actions in African agriculture and food systems will also be developed and presented as part of regional workshop in Nairobi. Funded places for early career African scholars at this workshop, will expand the breadth of the Cluster and build capacities, both in terms of providing opportunities to play a leading role in developing follow on research proposals and helping to embed food systems and justice thinking within the teaching and educational curricular at participant's institutions.

The ambition of the Cluster is to inform actions by policy makers, research institutions, the private sector, and civil society that contribute towards: (1) outlining actions taken to assess and address justice issues associated with transformation initiatives, investments, and programmes; (2) establishing appropriate baselines for monitoring and measuring social and environmental justice; (3) strengthening governance systems for the inclusive and sustainable management of agriculture and food system transformation; (4) regulating markets and investments such that they reflect the social and environmental justice implications of such investments or goods.

Planned Impact

The GCRF-African Food Systems Transformation and Justice Challenge Cluster is driven by a motivation to contribute towards the mainstreaming of social and environmental justice considerations within donor-driven interventions, humanitarian projects, private investments, national policy, and higher education curricular on agriculture and food system transformation. We aim to do this by developing a broadly applicable framework and guidelines for understanding and analysing social and environmental justice within agriculture and food systems, and providing case study-based examples from Africa that support and illustrate these concepts; highlighting challenges, approaches and successful practices.

The Cluster involves representation from two large organisations that specialise in research-into-policy and action in Africa: the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research's Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CGIAR-CCAFS) Initiative, represented in the project by investigators form ICRAF, and CARE International. We will draw on the communication networks, convening power, and large portfolio of activity of these organisations and of the GCRF-funded projects represented in the Cluster, to communicate a range of outputs, including (1) a webinar launch of a working paper on just transformations to be run as part of the existing GCRF-AFRICAP knowledge sharing seminar series; (2) a CGIAR-CCAFS policy brief setting out key lessons for targeting and monitoring justice in agriculture and food system transformations; (3) a co-authored academic paper targeted at a high profile journal; (4) an international conference presentation; and (5) potential contribution to a GCRF-AFRICAP side event at an international meeting such as the UNFCCC COP26.

Engagement of a wider network of African early career scholars at a planned Cluster workshop in Nairobi will aim to (1) build capacities for leading on large international follow-on research proposals that shape the future direction of the Cluster and that put the just transformations concept into practice; and (2) co-develop educational content and resources that can be integrated into existing higher education teaching in UK and African universities to embedded justice and systems thinking within agriculture and food degree-level programmes.


10 25 50