Jessica Duncan

Jessica Duncan is Associate Professor in Rural Sociology at Wageningen University (the Netherlands). She holds a PhD in Food Policy from City University London (2014).

Jessica’s main research focus concerns the practices and politics of participation in food policy processes, particularly the relationships (formal and non-formal) between governance organizations, systems of food provisioning, the environment, and the actors engaged in and across these spaces. More specifically, she maps the diverse ways that actors participate in policy-making processes, analysing how the resulting policies are shaped, implemented, challenged, and resisted, and she theorizes about what this means for socio-ecological transformation. Participation and engagement is at the core of her approach. In turn, she is active in a broad range of local, national and international initiatives with the aim of better understanding participation processes with a view towards transitioning to just and sustainable food systems.

She is involved in several research projects including ROBUST, HortEco & SHEALTHY.

Jessica is published regularly in academic journals. She recently co-edited the Handbook on Sustainable and Regenerative Food Systems (2020). Her other books include Food Security Governance: Civil society participation in the Committee on World Food Security (2015) and an edited volume called Sustainable food futures: Multidisciplinary solutions (2017).

Jessica has received several awards for her teaching and in 2017 she was awarded Teacher of the Year for Wageningen University (shortlisted again in 2018 and 2019, longlisted in 2020). With the funds she has received for these awards she launched a story-telling workshop for students and faculty, with storytelling trainer, Emma Holmes.

Jessica is on the Editorial Board of the journal Sociologia Ruralis and is an advisor to the Traditional Cultures Project (USA). She is a member of the Wageningen Young Academy and sits on the Sustainability Board of Experts at Wageningen University.

She is learning to play the piano. She is not very good.

counter summit graphic

Reconfiguring Food Systems Governance: The UNFSS and the Battle over Authority and Legitimacy

By replacing multilateralism with multi-stakeholderism, the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) is advancing a vision of food systems governance that sets the foundation for stronger corporate influence both of the UN and food systems at large.

December 16, 2021

FAO headquarters

Power to the Elites? Multistakeholderism and the UN Food Systems Summit

In theory, encouraging dialogue between various parties is a good thing. In practice, multistakeholder processes often fail to recognise that not all stakes are the same.

July 26, 2021

Women members of Via Campesina

Failure to Engage: Civil Society Marginalized in UN Food Summit

The failure of the UN Food Systems Summit to adequately engage civil society is one key reason why hundreds of civil society organisations have decided not to participate.

May 19, 2021