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Just Rural Transition

Meridian houses the Just Rural Transition, a global initiative which brings together a diverse community of stakeholders, including farmers, governments, investors, and civil society organizations to promote inclusive, equitable, and sustainable food systems.

The Challenge
  • Transforming our food systems to feed a growing population, improve livelihoods, and protect the environment is an urgent global priority. It requires bold, cross-cutting solutions forged by a diverse coalition of champions.
The Partners
  • A diverse network of government leaders, business and financial entities, farmers and local community leaders, knowledge institutions, and civil society organizations across the world
  • The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, who led the JRT Investment Partnerships workstream
  • Our current and past funders: UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and ClimateWorks Foundation
The Outcome
  • Supported food systems actors to design, implement, and scale integrated and inclusive approaches to advance financing and policy solutions for food systems transformation, centering the voices and knowledge of farmers in the process.
  • Amplified the potential for food and land use reform to be a solution to climate change challenges on global policy agendas, including at COP26 and COP27.


Project Overview

Our food and agriculture systems contribute one-third of global greenhouse gases. They are a driver of land degradation, biodiversity loss, and inequality. By transforming these systems, we can deliver better outcomes for people, climate, and nature—especially when social equity and inclusion are at the center of policy and investment reform.

This mission is at the heart of the Just Rural Transition (JRT) initiative. JRT brings together food producers, governments, businesses, investors, civil society, rural and indigenous peoples to champion equitable solutions to food systems challenges.

Mobilizing a Diverse Community to Transform Global Systems

Meridian houses the JRT Secretariat. As a trusted third party with deep experience in multi-stakeholder partnerships, we help groups navigate complex dynamics and identify shared priorities, including by:

  • Bringing together food systems stakeholders at regional and global levels—across private and public sectors—to identify, share, and co-create innovative policy and investment solutions through multi-stakeholder dialogue.
  • Developing knowledge products and fostering peer-to-peer learning across the Global South and North.
    We also advance ambitious, intersectional approaches to food systems transformation—for example:
  • Supporting the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and the World Bank in working with country governments to identify pathways that they can take to repurpose public policies and support to food and agriculture.
  • Collaborating with the investor community and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to accelerate investment and mobilize finance in support of sustainable, resilient food systems.

Centering the Voices of Farmers for a Just Transition

Farmers around the world are on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Their insights on what needs to change are essential—a focus that puts the just in Just Rural Transition.

Last year, JRT launched Practical Perspectives, a collaborative and consultative dialogue process that engaged farmers and public sector decision-makers at global and regional levels, including Johannesburg and Marrakech. To design inclusive, diverse, and accessible dialogues, JRT collaborated with regional partners, including the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU), the National Institute for Agricultural Research Morocco (INRA), and the African Agriculture Adaptation to Climate Change (AAA).

As a result, JRT was able to facilitate open and candid dialogue—between farmers, and between farmers and policymakers. Participants examined the state of agri-food public support, discussed weaknesses, and identified solutions. JRT published key findings from these dialogues, ensuring that the voices of farmers were heard by governments and decision-makers ahead of the COP27 UN climate talks.

At COP27, JRT also sponsored a delegation of frontline community representatives to attend the conference in partnership with the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) and the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities (GATC). The delegation included 21 representatives from smallholder farmers, Indigenous Peoples, civil society organizations, and local leaders working towards food systems transformation. Ensuring that food producers are an integral part of the discussion is key to JRT’s work to bring equitable and inclusive food systems higher up the agenda at COP. This includes ensuring they are able to share their unique insights and knowledge at events, during panels, and in conversation with policymakers.

A group of Meridian fellows, three women and two men, gather around large post-it papers in a boardroom. They are engaged in discussion.

Our Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Principles

As we pursue our mission, we aim to center Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion within Meridian and in our projects. Learn more about our JEDI Principles here.