Policy letter: Dutch contribution to global food security
On November 18, the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade & Development Cooperation and the Minister for Agriculture sent their long-awaited letter on global food security to parliament. The letter presents the framework for the Dutch government’s efforts to work on sustainable agriculture and food security together with all its partners. It indicates the direction in which new international initiatives by the Netherlands will be developed over the coming years.
In the letter, the government calls on partners from the private sector, civil society and knowledge institutions to use the Netherlands’ strengths to eradicate hunger worldwide within a single generation and establish a sound basis for sustainably feeding nine billion people by 2050. The Netherlands is focusing on supporting people who are vulnerable to malnutrition, on strengthening opportunities for farmers and rural entrepreneurs, and on the sustainability of food systems.
The Netherlands is internationally recognized as an expert and innovative partner for agricultural development and food security. Its activities are in line with EU policy in this field and play a visible and distinctive role at the UN within an integrated approach to aid, trade and investment. Knowledge, capacity and activity are the common themes.
‘We rely on locally supported policy frameworks and institutions as much as possible in implementing the policy’ said the ministers in the letter. There is a great deal of knowledge and energy on agriculture and food security in Dutch society. The Food & Business Knowledge Platform has with its consultation contributed to the wider stakeholder input gathering by the ministries. The government considers the opinions and contributions that emerged from this F&BKP consultation as important building blocks in the development of the policy.
The letter explains that Dutch policy focuses on all dimensions of food security (people, profit, planet), with the following three main targets:
- Eradicating hunger and malnutrition
The focus is on vulnerable people who experience hunger firsthand through being affected by poverty, natural disasters, conflicts and other crises. Besides the provision of food aid where needed, permanent access to adequate and proper nutrition is necessary.
- Promoting inclusive and sustainable growth in the agricultural sector
The focus is on small and medium-scale farmers as well as other rural entrepreneurs who could potentially serve market demand. Increasing these people’s earning power is a powerful tool in fighting hunger and poverty and promoting economic growth.
- Achieving ecologically sustainable food systems
The focus here is on the sustainable management of international public (environmental) goods like water, soil, energy and biodiversity. The effects of climate change on food systems and vice-versa will be considered during all activities.
The government aims to strike the right balance between these three food security goals. The relationship between the goals throughout the activities will be investigated as much as possible.
The letter was discussed in the Dutch parliament on December 9, 2014, as one of 21 agenda items. The formal report of this debate is not yet available. An impression of the key issues discussed can be found on Viceversaonline (in Dutch).
As the rich and high level of input during the online consultation facilitated by the Food & Business Knowledge Platform could not be captured fully in the F&BKP report for the ministries, the F&BKP Office advised them to use this input in the next phase of implementing the policy through interventions and programs. In line with this advice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is considering organizing follow-up meetings with stakeholders to elaborate on the themes and ideas in the letter.
On 18 December, it was agreed in the parliament’s committee on Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, that a specific committee debate would be organized about Food Security, in the course of the coming months. A majority of committee members was interested to have such a specific debate, while some political parties indicated they didn’t have the intention to participate.
The debate about Food Security is planned for January 27, 2016: follow this link for more information (in Dutch).