“Can we feed the world and improve the lives of billions of people through economic development while conserving ecosystems?”

This is perhaps one of the most difficult questions confronting humanity today. Answering this question requires academic excellence, sharp policy analysis, and sensible practical answers around matters of governance (politics and management of resource conflicts) and wealth (achieving just and equitable distribution of resources).

Grounded in a multi-disciplinary approach, the Agrarian, Food and Environmental Studies (AFES) group is committed to addressing this challenge.

AFES does not only produce cutting edge scientific knowledge but also bridges debates between academic, policy and grassroots civil society circles. The group’s research agenda has a strong international appeal, in part demonstrated by the influx of high-quality PhD candidates.

Pressing contemporary global issues, including the food and energy crises, land grabs, natural resource conflicts, biodiversity conservation, environmental degradation and climate change, social movements that work around these issues –the core themes of AFES work– are most likely to remain at the centre of scientific debates on how to achieve just and sustainable development.

AFES’s critical political economy approach to these important topics is most relevant and more in demand than ever before. AFES has become highly influential in global research networks on:

(1) food sovereignty, most recently co-organizing a high-level conference with Yale University, 14-15 September 2013;
(2) land grabs, with important contributions to for example the Commission for Food Security (FAO) High Level Panel of Experts 2011 report on large-scale land acquisitions, and many recent state-of-the art publications in scientific journals, and expanding this research into Latin America and Eurasia;
(3) critical views on the Green Economy, the commercialization of nature, and neo-liberal conservation;
(4) environmental degradation, and conflicts between local communities and sub-soil extraction (mining, oil and gas production), but also relation to the commodification of water resources and its consequences for equity and access.