The Future of Food: Power and Biodiversity


The Future of Food: Power and Biodiversity


How can harnessing biodiversity enable progressive power shifts in the food system?



Nearly one in ten people suffer from hunger, more than two billion people experience moderate to severe food insecurity, and more than three billion cannot afford a healthy diet. At the same time, hundreds of forgotten species, many containing essential micronutrients, could contribute to addressing access to healthy diets.

Power is reflected in the lack of diversity on our plates. Geopolitical imbalances, internal power asymmetries, market concentration in the food supply chain, and corruption determine which foods reach our stomachs (very few products); how they are produced and distributed (with high environmental costs); what their price is (cheap but less nutritious food), and what their real cost is—economic, social, and environmental—thereby determining who can access them. The economic vision of food chain efficiency that has defined our current global “food regime” decouples food production from all its interconnections with nutrition, the environment, and social inclusion.

Without a significant, proactive, and sustained long-term change in the power forces defining food, which includes recognizing the pivotal role of biodiversity and the imperative to diversify food production and consumption, it is hard to imagine achieving sustainable, healthy, inclusive, and fair food systems.

In this project, we will address these and other challenges by identifying obstacles arising from power asymmetries and offering multidisciplinary and systemic solutions. We will provide a comprehensive analysis on biodiversity and power, developing concrete multidisciplinary recommendations to promote food systems diversification. On this basis, we will produce a comprehensive report on the topic.

We will leverage the expertise of a diverse group of experts, with a special focus on the multidisciplinary practitioners and scholars working on this report at The New Institute. Additionally, we will draw upon the extensive expertise and diverse perspectives within the Advisory Group, as well as consulting and interviewing external experts.

Ideally, the team should include four profiles of academics and scholars with academic and practical expertise on food systems, each specializing in one of the following disciplines: nutrition, environment, social inclusion, or agroecology. All team members should have experience in research and proposals that connect their respective disciplines with biodiversity. Additionally, they should have actively participated in collaborative efforts aimed at promoting policy guidelines and reforms for the transformation of food systems.


José Luis Chicoma

José Luis serves as Senior Advisor on Global Food Systems for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). He is also a member of the team of experts that is developing the report on strengthening urban food systems for the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE-FSN). He has been a consultant on food systems for international organizations, such as the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Inter-American Development Bank.

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  • Number of persons sought

    We are looking for up to three persons.

  • Funding period

    Either 1, 2, or 3 terms:

    • Fall term: September 16, 2024 – December 13, 2024
    • Winter term: January 13, 2025 – March 28, 2025
    • Spring term: May 2, 2025 – June 27, 2025

      Please indicate how many terms you wish to come.
  • Profile

    Scholars (Postdocs and experienced researchers) from all disciplines and practitioners in politics, business, art, media, or journalism with a commitment to the mission of THE NEW INSTITUTE, and interest in collaborating across our programs. Individuals with expertise in food systems, as well as those working in fields of biodiversity, governance, agroecology, and nutrition, e.g., with backgrounds in food studies, social and economic development, public policy, agriculture, environment, and public health are especially encouraged to apply.

  • Tasks

    • Actively participate in the collaborative fellow work in the program.
    • Take part and contribute to weekly interdisciplinary and transsectoral fellow meetings.
  • Location

    Fellows are required to be present at THE NEW INSTITUTE in Hamburg at least four days a week during the respective term.

  • Stipend

    Fellows from academia ideally use a paid leave of absence (sabbatical) to take up a fellowship at THE NEW INSTITUTE. If this is not possible, THE NEW INSTITUTE can cover the costs of a buy-out or for a temporary replacement. If on a paid leave of absence, Fellows are offered an additional stipend in the amount of 1.150 EUR per month to cover costs incurred by our residency requirement.

    If a paid leave of absence is not possible, Fellows can be granted an individually negotiated research stipend in accordance with German non-profit law. Normally, the stipend amounts to the equivalent of the remuneration of a scholar in Germany at the respective career level.

    Individual solutions in line with the legal framework of THE NEW INSTITUTE will be found for Fellows working outside of academia.

  • Housing

    THE NEW INSTITUTE’s home is the Warburg Ensemble, a series of 19th century town houses providing fully furnished apartments for Fellows. While Fellows do not pay rent at THE NEW INSTITUTE, they are required to contribute to the operating, consumption, and heating costs (approx. 200 – 550 EUR/month). The exact amount depends on the size of the apartment and will be communicated after the final apartment allocation. The monthly contribution to operating, consumption, and heating costs is deducted from the stipend payment.

    The distribution of apartments is at the discretion of THE NEW INSTITUTE.

    If family members accompany Fellows for at least one term, THE NEW INSTITUTE will provide larger apartments whenever possible. Provided there is available space, THE NEW INSTITUTE can provide housing for family members visiting for shorter periods of time at extra cost or help search for space in hotels in the vicinity.

    Fellows will be provided with a desk in their apartments.

    It is generally possible to bring a pet. In this case, additional cleaning costs will occur, and Fellows must pay for any damage caused by the pet.

  • Meals

    Fellows are offered meals prepared by our in-house hospitality team. Whenever possible, we take individual dietary requirements into consideration. Common meals include breakfasts and lunches on work days as well as weekly dinners.

    As meals are considered an integral part of our communal life, Fellows are expected to regularly take part. Fellows register for common meals weekly in advance via a dedicated app.

    The monthly cost contribution to common meals is 400 EUR and is deducted from the stipend at the end of each month. No meals are offered during the term breaks. Accordingly, there is no cost contribution during these periods.

    If Fellows wish to bring family members or guests to the common meals, they need to register these guests with the hospitality team beforehand. Breakfasts will be charged at 10 EUR and lunches at 20 EUR per person.

    THE NEW INSTITUTE’s bar operates on the basis of trust. Fellows enter the drinks they have consumed in a list. At the end of the month, the total amount is deducted from the stipend payment.

  • Application materials

    A complete application consists of the following:

    • Letter of motivation (1 page max), including statement of relevant fit to the call.
    • Proposal of contribution to the program (2-3 pages) including description of the desired outcome of your participation in the group. Explain what is state of the art in your field of research and to what extent your contribution is innovative, advances research or provides a particular impact with respect to the Program’s aims. The proposal should clearly spell out the project’s relationship to the Program theme, described above. Proposals should be preceded by a one-paragraph abstract.
    • Brief CV (please include in the header: current location including time zone, current affiliation, last university or higher education degree, discipline and institution from which you received the degree, nationality, gender, birth date, and indication of which terms you are applying for). The CV should give a rough overview of the main stages in your career.
    • List 5 of your main publications that are relevant for your project.
    • For academic applicants: A completed PhD and two years of post-doctoral experience are required. Non-tenured faculty must provide two letters of reference.
  • Application procedure

    Please send your application as a single pdf to
    The deadline for applications is on April 30, 2024, 12 pm CET.

    Fellow selection follows a two-stage selection process: After an initial review of applications, we select candidates for zoom interviews that will take place on May 22, 2024 in the afternoon.

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