‘Leaders Alliance’ on Hunger and Sustainable Agriculture

Project Objectives and Research Questions

This project will critically assess the potential of a new ‘Leaders Alliance’ on hunger and sustainable agriculture. It will do so by drawing lessons from previous similar endeavors across a range of substantive issue areas in international development and global politics, and assessing where a new Leaders Alliance might fit in the current FNS institutional landscape.

The project will consider three specific research questions:

  • Why have Leaders Alliances formed in the past? What purpose(s) do they serve? How can they influence policy outcomes?
  • How do the design choices in creating a Leaders Alliance influence its operations and effectiveness?
  • What lessons do previous Leaders Alliances suggest for the potential and limitations of a new Leaders Alliance in hunger and sustainable agriculture?

To provide some initial answers to these questions, this project will develop a rich theoretical understanding of how such leaders alliances can shape policy outcomes; create a new, original database tracking similar efforts in international development and global politics; conduct analytic case studies of 3-5 similar groupings of high profile individuals; and finally draw lessons from this work to assess the potential and limits of a new Leaders Alliance on hunger and sustainable agriculture.


The world is severely off track to meet SDG2 on ending hunger and promoting sustainable agriculture. In fact, the number of undernourished people in the world increased in 2018, for the third consecutive year. Meanwhile, citizens around the world cite ending hunger as the most important of the SDGs. Yet despite these clear needs and public interest, international action on hunger and sustainable agriculture has lagged. Indeed, international attention to the problems of food security has historically followed a clear cyclical trend, peaking when food prices soar (as occurred in 2007-08) and then waning once prices subside. Such a reactive, crisis-driven approach is ill-suited to delivering the long term, sustainable and transformational changes that are needed.

A core problem with international action to end hunger is a lack of accountability and urgency. One potential mechanism for improving accountability in the international FNS system is the creation of a ‘Leaders Alliance’, or prominent group of high-profile individuals committed to catalyzing action on SDG2. A number of similar campaigns and operations, both within and beyond the food / agricultural sectors, have had some success in galvanizing greater ambition and prompting reforms. At the same time, there is a risk any new endeavor will end up distracting attention and ultimately further fragmenting global governance in food security. Indeed, there is already a large number of transnational organizations and alliances operating in this sector, such as the Committee on Food Security and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

Assessing the Prospects for a ‘Leaders Alliance’ on Hunger and Sustainable Agriculture


Project Team

  • Sarah Zoubek, MEM
  • Kelly Brownell, Ph.D.