BRUSSELS / 08.05 2012 / 5TH EDITION
Policy Coherence for Development
The issue of policy coherence for Development : food security and
the right to food
The International Community is committed to reaching the Millennium Development Goal (MDG 1) aimed at
eradicating extreme poverty and hunger in developing countries. With less than three years to go before this
important deadline, the results are unsatisfactory, and indeed worrying. Around the world, in spite of a reduction
in poverty - registered mainly in emerging countries (Asia in particular, led by China) - the number of people
suffering from hunger has gone up, notably in Sub-Saharan Africa.1
To help reach this objective, Belgian Cooperation recently updated its strategy approach to support the
agricultural and food security sector in developing countries. It supports sustainable family farming, concentrating
its interventions on four priority areas: Agricultural production, production and access to markets , governance of
the agricultural sector, and the empowerment of rural women2. The EU is also committed, in a political framework
updated in 2010, to improving the efficiency of its actions in development cooperation to help
developing countries to meet the challenges of food security.
However, reflecting on policy coherence implies also taking into account the impact of non-coherence between
the development goals pursued and those defined in other policy areas; notably agriculture, trade and finance.
In an increasingly interconnected world, the political choices, actions and decisions of developed countries
have a major impact on developing countries, and may have consequences for their overall food security.
This workshop will examine how Belgian or EU agricultural and climate policies can impact food security in
Is it for example coherent that Belgian Development Cooperation commits to supporting small local producers,
while decisions made in our internal policies, or at EU level, jeopardise this very objective? Likewise, in the field
of agriculture, is it coherent to finance the development of local agricultural networks by small producers while,
at the same time, obliging them to compete with exports of our production surplus? In our search for solutions
to climate challenges, do we sufficiently take into account the impact that the introduction of agrofuels has on the
development of a market that increases pressure, in developing countries, on food security and access to land?
1 United Nations website on monitoring the Millennium Development Goals: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/poverty.shtml
2 Strategic note for the agriculture and food sectors, Belgian Development Cooperation (available on the DGD site).
3 European Commission (2010), An EU policy framework to assist developing countries in addressing food security challenges (COM-
The difficulty of implementing Development Policy Coherence resides in the fact that the policies in question are
often European policies, or policies generated by regional authorities. Today, political decisions and arbitration
involve a large number of parties. How could Belgium take more coherent decisions for development, in particular
while guaranteeing this dialogue between the various levels and fields of decision-making?
This debate should highlight the negative effects some of our policy choices have on food security and the right to
food in other countries. The opportunities for creating synergies between policies to the benefit of developing
countries should also be highlighted. Addressing these issues may encourage sensitive debate on the question of
possible conflicts of interest between regional, national or European parties and the development goals of these
countries. However, discussions should also touch on the prospect of win-win situations in the context of global
sustainable development, where food security can be considered a global public good and food a universal
human right. Naturally, developing countries are not a homogenous group, and the specific nature of each case
needs to be taken into consideration.
Further reading and background documentation
GRAP 3A (Groupe de Recherche en Appui à la Politique pour l’Alimentation et l’Agriculture en Afrique),
a research group between universities and Belgian Development Cooperation partners, has addressed this issue
in greater depth in a paper written especially for this workshop. A must-read for those who wish to take part!
More in-depth reading material is available on the Stakeholder Meeting website: www.assises-dgd.be
Questions to be debated
1. What is the cost of non-coherent development policies for universal food security and the right to food, and why is
it important to take into account the impact of our policies on food security in developing countries?
What negative impacts may policy choices in Belgium and Europe have on food security in these countries?
Conversely, what could the concrete benefits of further coherence be?
2. How can the EU take these issues into account in its policies and decision-making mechanisms? How and to
what extent should certain policies change? Should financial speculation on foodstuffs be regulated? What would
be the implications of a “development policy coherence” approach for the European agricultural production and
exportation model? How could this be taken into account in a reform of the CAP?
3. To what extent do Belgian and European biofuels policies illustrate what is at stake in Development
4. In Europe and in Belgium, what are political and institutional obstacles and constraints in ensuring better
Policy Coherence for universal food security, and what practical measures can be taken to overcome them