Forging new partnerships, rethinking traditional approaches


The Decent Work for
Equitable Food Systems Coalition

Shared Vision of Social & Economic Justice


Economic and social justice through decent work for all food system workers


The Coalition provides a joint space to advance equitable livelihoods by promoting labour and human rights and increasing opportunities for decent and productive employment within the agri-food sector, including working towards 100% living incomes and wages.

How we work

The Coalition aims to accelerate a substantial increase of impactful actions by stakeholders across food systems, aligned for collective impact on the livelihoods of food systems workers.

This involves creating equitable opportunities to earn decent incomes through productive farming, fishing and pastoralism and improving decent employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in on- and off-farm enterprises, and other related sectors of the food system; and, ensuring sustainability and resilience of income and jobs to adverse shocks, crisis and climate change.

Together with its members, the Coalition is working with governments, multilateral organisations, employers’ and workers’ organizations, civil society, academia, and the private sector to make progress on this agenda.


‘Advancing Equitable Livelihoods, Decent Work and Empowered Communities’ has been recognized as one of 5 key areas for future action for making progress on the SDGs at the United Nations Food System Summit in 2021.

During the 2021 Food Systems Summit, 71 percent of Member States requested support to advance equitable livelihoods across their food systems. Two years later at the UN Food Systems Summit +2 in 2023, one-third of countries reporting on food systems transformation efforts mentioned specific initiatives related to advancing equitable livelihoods, decent work, and empowered communities.

Building on their collective mandate, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and CARE International launched the Decent Work for Equitable Food Systems Coalition to make concrete progress on these issues globally.

billion people depend on food systems for their livelihoods
of the extreme poor are engaged in agriculture
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of employment in agriculture is informal
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Five priority areas

Labour and human rights

Institutionalizing and strengthening labour and human rights and improving labour governance in food systems

Addressing labour protection gap for food system workers through the promotion of the ratification and effective implementation of ILO instruments and UN human rights conventions, paying special attention to fundamental principles and rights at work, namely:

  • Freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining

  • The elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour

  • The effective abolition of child labour

  • The elimination of discrimination in respect to employment and occupation

  • A healthy and safe working environment.

The work of the Coalition covers different production systems – from family farms to large plantations – and specific sectors, including food processing, fisheries and aquaculture, which may not always be covered by food system policies and regulations. Emphasis is given to categories of workers that are particularly vulnerable to violations of fundamental principles and rights at work, such as migrants, informal, and seasonal workers.

Decent employment creation

Promoting decent employment in the agri-food sector, with a focus on more and better jobs for the most vulnerable

As the source of employment and livelihood opportunities for 1.23 billion people globally, the agri-food sector can be an important driver of decent work and sustainable enterprise development. A socially, environmentally and economically sustainable agri-food sector with full, productive and freely chosen employment and decent work at its core is essential for eradicating poverty, tackling inequalities and ending global hunger. This includes:

  • Generating decent jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities in the agri-food sector, especially for the most vulnerable, and reduce existing decent work deficits in the sector.

  • Promoting inclusive and transformative investments in the agri-food sector.

Key constraints that need to be addressed to engage women, Indigenous Peoples, youth and other marginalised communities in the agri-food sector are the lack of knowledge, capacity, and inclusive policy dialogues, inequitable access to productive resources, including land and finance, and limited opportunities for meaningful engagement.

Social Dialogue

Empowering food system workers through strengthening workplace organization and effective social dialogue

Social dialogue includes all types of negotiation, consultation or simply exchange of information between, or among, representatives of governments, employers and workers, on issues of common interest relating to economic and social policy. Successful social dialogue structures and processes have the potential to resolve important economic and social issues, encourage good governance, advance social and industrial peace and stability and boost economic progress. Within this priority area, the work of the Coalition is amed at:

  • Promoting the effective functioning and representation of existing and new social dialogue mechanisms with a view to giving plantation workers, women, youth, small-scale producers and all other relevant stakeholders a voice in social and economic development.

  • Strengthening the capacity workers and employers to effectively engage in social dialogue processes.

Social protection and income security

Ensuring the rights to social protection and income security are upheld

Social protection, or social security, is a human right and is defined as the set of policies and programmes designed to reduce and prevent poverty, vulnerability and social exclusion throughout the life cycle. Social protection includes nine main areas: child and family benefits, maternity protection, unemployment support, employment injury benefits, sickness benefits, health protection (medical care), old-age benefits, invalidity / disability benefits, and survivors’ benefits. Social protection systems address all these policy areas by a mix of contributory schemes (social insurance) and non-contributory tax-financed benefits (including social assistance). Expansion of social protection, both contributory and non-contributory schemes, as a fundamental right.

Accelerating the progressive realization of nationally defined social protection floors that guarantee at least essential health care, safe and nutritious foods, and basic income security to all, including the poor, food-insecure, and workers in the agri-food systems, including informal, migrant, and seasonal workers and especially those most likely be left behind.

Living incomes and wages

Achieving 100% living incomes and wages

Significantly improving incomes and wages in food systems will bring substantial improvements in livelihoods and resilience, starting with the small-scale farmers and agricultural wage workers who are essential actors in achieving future food and nutrition security and rural prosperity across the world.


A unique partnership

Our founders

IFAD is an international financial institution and a United Nations specialized agency. IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, IFAD has provided more than US$24 billion in grants and low-interest loans to fund projects in developing countries.

The International Labour Organization is the United Nations agency for the world of work. We bring together governments, employers and workers to drive a human-centred approach to the future of work through employment creation, rights at work, social protection and social dialogue.

CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside women and girls. Equipped with the proper resources women and girls have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. CARE was founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®.


Ensuring action

Support available

The Coalition provides support to stakeholders in advancing decent work in food systems in order to ensure that they are equitable, sustainable and resilient.

Policy advice

Supporting the development and implementation of policies and interventions targeting food systems that integrate employment and labour issues.

Systems approach

Facilitating dialogue on the subject by bringing together Ministries of Labour, Agriculture, and other relevant government institutions, including local governments, employers’ and workers’ organisations, and non-state actors, thereby also fostering a systems approach to advance decent work in food systems.

Knowledge & advocacy

Supporting the generation of knowledge on the subject and raising awareness through advocacy at global, regional and national levels.

Policy Advice

Supporting the development and implementation of policies and interventions targeting food systems that integrate employment and labour issues.

Systems Approach

Facilitating a systems approach by bringing together Ministries of Labour, Agriculture, and other relevant government institutions, including local governments, employers’ and workers’ organisations, and non-state actors to advance decent work in food systems.

Technical Support

Providing technical support in the generation of quality employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, and the promotion of workers’ rights, especially for the most vulnerable.


Key contacts

Global Advocacy Director - Food Systems, CARE

Rural Economy Specialist, Sectoral Policies Department, International Labour Organisation

Environment, Climate and Gender Consultant, International Fund for Agricultural Development