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SIANI’s expert groups – gathering new knowledge

Photo: Lotta Fabricius Kristiansen

SIANI forms partnerships with expert groups that drive forward-looking projects related to sustainable, rights-based and inclusive food systems. These multisector groups are active in low- and middle-income contexts and contribute important knowledge to the SIANI network.

The groups are selected after an open Call for Proposals and are active for approximately 15 months. During this time, the groups carry out activities on a topic they have identified as especially important to their context. They continuously receive support from SIANI and share their experiences with the SIANI network. Here are a few frequently asked questions about the SIANI expert groups. You can also learn more about specific groups in Expert Group section of the website.

Who are the SIANI expert groups?

The SIANI expert groups run innovative projects to make food systems more sustainable, rights-based and inclusive. They are cross-sector working groups with members who have expert knowledge from different fields. Focused on low-income contexts, the groups contribute to a better understanding of emerging issues and foster action and collaboration. SIANI offers funding and technical support to the groups. The groups are selected after an open call.

The current groups are featured in the Expert Groups section of the SIANI website.


Why does SIANI have expert groups?

The groups carry out activities that lead to meaningful change and share their insights and experiences with the SIANI network and other stakeholders. This generates new knowledge on emerging topics and helps identify knowledge gaps. The groups are concrete examples of the multisector dialogue and action around sustainable food systems that are at the core of the SIANI mission. They play an important role connecting network members in Sweden and internationally.

The concept has proved successful, resulting in expert groups on a broad range of topics in different parts of the world. Many of the groups have contributed to the understanding of important issues that deserve more attention and helped elevate the voices of youth, smallholder farmers and groups who are underrepresented or marginalised.

Which topics should the groups focus on?

The work of the expert groups should contribute to SIANI’s vision of food systems that are more sustainable, rights-based and inclusive of smallholder farmers and marginalised groups. The groups work on issues they identify as relevant to their regional context and where they themselves have expertise.

Recently, the topics have usually fallen into one or more of these four categories:

  • Sustainability: Systems, innovations, and practices conserving and enhancing biodiversity and the natural resource base. This can for example be regenerative and landscape approaches, agroecology and nature-based solutions.
  • Resilience to crises and preparedness: Systems, innovations and practices that strengthen food security in times of conflict/economic downturn/pandemics/climate change.
  • One Health: Systems, innovations, and practices enhancing human, animal, and ecosystem health (One Health approach).
  • Other important topics that are currently ignored or underprioritised.

What is expected of the groups?

The groups are expected to share their insights and experiences broadly within the SIANI network and with other stakeholders. They must apply a multisector approach, with members coming from civil society, the private sector, governance and universities. Thereby they support dialogues that capture, develop, consolidate, and communicate knowledge, proven practices and innovations.

Furthermore, the groups should apply a human-rights based approach. Throughout the implementation period, the groups should continuously reflect on the following:

  • Participation: Is there active and meaningful participation of those involved – including opportunities for them to influence the formulation of problems, planning, implementation, and follow-up?
  • Non-discrimination: Who are the rights holders? Have they been taken into account? Are people in vulnerable situations considered?
  • Empowerment: What capacity do duty bearers have to fulfil their obligations and rights holders to claim their human rights? Can their capacity be strengthened?
  • Transparency: Is information available in an accessible way to duty bearers and rights holders? Are they able to attend and observe meetings and processes where issues that affect them are discussed?

How do the expert groups contribute to change?

The expert groups drive forward-looking projects related to sustainable, rights-based and inclusive food systems in low-income contexts. They plan, implement and monitor their own projects and pathways for change, with technical and financial support from the SIANI secretariat.

The groups help raise awareness of emerging issues around food systems in their regional or local contexts. Their insights can guide both practitioners and policymakers, especially since the members of the expert groups come from diverse backgrounds, including civil society, universities, the private sector and government. The expert groups contribute to changed agendas and practices, as well as enhanced capacities and knowledge.

How is the impact of the expert groups monitored?

The groups should apply a human-rights based approach (HRBA) and  continuously monitor and evaluate their work, fostering a culture of learning.

The SIANI secretariat serves as a sounding board and offers training on HRBA and monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL). The groups are expected to develop a MEL plan, including a communications strategy.

How are the groups selected?

The expert groups are selected after an open Call for Proposals announced on the SIANI website. To be considered, candidates must present a concrete project proposal and budget in line with the SIANI Expert Groups Terms of Reference.

After the Call is closed, all proposals are assessed according to standardised criteria by a review committee at the SIANI secretariat. The final selection of successful proposals is made by the SIANI Steering Committee. The selection criteria are described in the Terms of Reference document.