Legal/Policy Adviser, Empowerment of Rural Communities/Farmer’s rights to genetic resources and data

Duty station: Rome, Italy, or other location as appropriate. 

Contract type: International consultancy 

Duration: 2 months, with possibility of further extension, subject to performance

IMPORTANT: Applications for this position must be submitted via FAO's iRecruitment system HERE.  First you must register and create a profile. Then click on the "Jobs" tab and enter vacancy no. IRC4988 in the "Keywords" field​.

Application Deadline: 8 November 2017

GFAR is made up of Partners working together, through collective advocacy and actions, to shape the future of agriculture and food and their role in achieving sustainable development. Together we are working to make agri-food research and innovation more effective, responsive and equitable, towards achieving Sustainable Development outcomes. As such, GFAR does not have a heavy internal structure, but relies on the Secretariat triggering voluntary actions among over 500 Partner institutions, who are themselves the agents of change and delivery.

The Secretariat of GFAR is hosted by FAO in Rome, but operates in a decentralized manner through staff and consultants around the world. The role offered will lead, and be responsible for, the design, development and initial coordination of the implementation of actions related to the rights of smallholder farmers, within the Secretariat and with GFAR partners requesting advice in their reform and change processes.

This consultancy falls under one of the four Key Focal Areas of the new GFAR Strategy currently being developed and to be implemented starting 2018. As such, the full-time, category B consultant will carry out consultancy responsibilities as follows:

Reporting Lines
The consultant reports directly to the GFAR Executive Secretary, pending planned appointment of a GFAR Programme Officer (Coordination) and Senior Adviser for the Key Focus area concerned

Tasks and responsibilities

  1. Provide GFAR’s partners with support in empowering rural communities, particularly women, via their rights over seeds and traditional knowledge, innovations and practices enhancing their livelihoods, contributing to reducing poverty and hunger and promoting the conservation of genetic crop diversity essential for global food and nutrition security, providing policy and legal advisory inputs to improve national legal and policy frameworks accordingly;
  2. Build on earlier GFAR partnerships in Guatemala, Honduras and Malawi, upscale the recognition and implementation of Farmers’ Rights to plant genetic resources in these and other countries, including through farmer-to-farmer training, webinars, national and regional workshops; customized capacity building materials, policy sheets, radio & video etc.;
  3. Promote food security, diversify healthy diets and better community livelihoods, through the conservation and sustainable use of forgotten foods, supporting the development of this multi-stakeholder collective action;
  4. Facilitate, advise multi-stakeholder dialogues and inform collective actions on ethics and legal policy issues around the open access and use of farmers’ data, and that from research, to ensure its equitable access and use and increase returns and benefits from open data to smallholder farmers; support the organization of an international meeting with academia and legal experts on the legal rights involved in access to open data, to identify key issues and next steps to improve the legal framework needed to ensure transparency and legal certainty for open data for the benefit of farmers, particularly smallholder farmers
  5. Represent GFAR at international meetings relevant to the sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and increase awareness of the role and contributions of GFAR to agricultural research and innovation, and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and support GFAR Secretariat in fostering implementation of international treaties, commissions and GFAR-Partners’ collective actions relating to Farmers’ Rights and to open data.
  6. Contribute to the development of GFAR’s key focal areas, especially KFA1 (Community empowerment), initiation of the GFAR Medium Term Plan 2018-2021, GCARD3-related initiatives and FAO Strategic Programmes. Support non-research partners in playing a more proactive role in Regional Fora in regard to these issues and attracting other relevant organizations to become partners in GFAR.

Minimum Requirements

  • Advanced university degree in law with post-qualifying studies in environmental sciences, natural resource management, anthropology, intellectual property rights or a related field as appropriate for the specific profile
  • Knowledge and familiarity with key legislation and international treaty bodies: The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, the Convention on Biological Diversity, World Intellectual Property Organization and other relevant international instruments
  • Relevant knowledge of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research and Innovation - GFAR
  • Relevant experience in promoting collective actions between different stakeholders
  • Working knowledge of English and Spanish

Under the framework of GFAR key focal area No. 1 “Communities Determining their Needs”, indicative target deliverables expected for the role and for which the candidate should demonstrate relevant competencies are: i) smallholder farmers empowered on what Farmers’ Rights are and how they can be implemented in practice; ii) legal and policy elements promoted allowing the implementation of Farmers’ Rights at national and regional levels; iii) relevant stakeholders increase their awareness on Farmers’ Rights and the importance of complementarity between the formal and informal seed systems; iv) smallholder farmers, particularly women, empowered in the conservation and use of forgotten foods contributing to food and nutrition security; diverse healthy diets and community livelihoods; and v) multi-stakeholder and open dialogues promoted to study legal implications of open access to data and improve the legal framework to ensure open access to research data for the benefit of smallholder farmers.

Technical/Functional Skills

  • Work experience in more than one location or area of work
  • Extent and relevance of experience in legal issues on access to genetic resources and traditional knowledge
  • Extent and relevance of experience in policy issues around farmers’ rights relevant to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and open data
  • Familiarity with working with local and indigenous communities, including farmers


  • GFAR, the Global Forum on Agricultural Research and Innovation (, is a networked multi-stakeholder platform encompassing all those concerned with the generation, access and use of agri-food knowledge and innovation in development. GFAR is an open, voluntary forum and a movement for change.
  • FAO does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process (application, interview meeting, processing).
  • Incomplete applications will not be considered. If you need help, or have queries, please contact: iRecruitment[at]fao[dot]org
  • Applications received after the closing date will not be accepted.
  • Only language proficiency certificates from UN accredited external providers and/or FAO language official examinations (LPE, ILE, LRT) will be accepted as proof of the level of knowledge of languages indicated in the online applications.
  • For other issues, visit the FAO employment website:

If you have questions about this position, please contact GFAR Secretariat at GFAR-Secretariat[at]fao[dot]org

To apply, visit the recruitment website here, complete your online profile and search for vacancy no. IRC4988. Only applications received through the recruitment portal will be considered.

Candidates are requested to attach a letter of motivation to the online profile.
Vacancies will be removed from the recruitment portal at 23:59 Central European Time (CET) on the deadline for applications date. We encourage applicants to submit the application well before the deadline date.

If you need help, or have queries, please contact: iRecruitment[at]fao[dot]org