DSA2016: Politics in Development
The panel invites papers that analyse ways in which civil society and social movements insert politics into governance spaces and comment on emerging trends across food governance debates, and the potential of civil society to envisage alternative scenarios and affect the policy process.
Food security is a "wicked" development problem which is deeply political and for which there is no single solution. Re-imagining how to reshape the existing governance arrangements that have facilitated a world where more than one billion people are obese, and almost another one billion are under-nourished at a time of increased resource scarcity and climate change, requires deliberate and committed politicization of related policies.
One challenge is that while development is inherently political the governance arrangements (formal and informal) that coordinate development practices are often organised in ways that have de-policising effects. More concretely, when it comes to food security governance trends towards multi-stakeholder platforms, data-driven indicators with related monitoring and evaluation frameworks, and consensus-based decision-making processes, serve to conceal relations of power and the agendas of particular actors in the name of consultation, technocracy, and democracy.
This panel invites papers that:
- Identify and analyse ways in which actors, especially civil society and social movements insert politics and issues of power into governance spaces;
- Reflect on similarities, differences and interconnections across the practices, tactics and strategies used by actors to politicise the space and to push for alternatives to the dominant food systems.
- Comment and advance theorizing on emerging trends across the debates of food governance and the potential of civil society to envisage alternative scenarios and affect the policy process.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Access to seeds: lessons from the access to medicines debate
Taking the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health as its point of departure, this paper reviews the “access to medicines” problem, exploring implications for those working at the national, international and multilateral levels to protect farmers’ freedoms relating to access and use of seeds.
The history and dynamics of the access to medicines debate provide a number of reflections for those concerned with protecting farmers' access to seeds. Taking the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health as its point of departure, this paper explores implications for interested parties at the international and national levels, as well as for multilateral institutions themselves.
Three lessons stand out in particular.
1) The process that led to the Declaration highlights the significance of global public opinion in shaping negotiations, as well as the value of combining this with pragmatic coalition-building amongst states, NGOs and the media.
2) Domestically, national governments should make creative use of TRIPS flexibilities. This has been done to bring down the cost of medicines in numerous countries and should be emulated by governments wishing to protect farmers' seed systems, which rely on experimentation, storage, exchange and re-use of seeds. 'Access' in this paper is taken to encompass these activities, rather than simply referring to the availability of new varieties developed by commercial breeders.
3) There is an urgent need for sustained, productive collaboration between relevant multilateral institutions. Collaboration between the WHO, WTO and WIPO on access to medicines has facilitated a broader consideration of innovation. Similar engagement is necessary between the FAO, WTO, WIPO and others to clarify the complicated governance structure for plant genetic resources and ensure farmers' can continue the activities the world relies on in attempting to achieve food security.
Challenging post-political nature of global food security governance: strategies from the Committee on World Food Security
In this paper I interrogate the post-political nature of global food security governance. I present the case of the Committee on World Food Security as a site where such the post-political is challenged and reflect on practices that can re-politicise food security governance.
Food security represents a policy problems for which there is no neutral diagnosis. Yet, within policy-making arenas the source of the problem (e.g. not enough food), a shared vision for the future (e.g. food security), and often the steps to take us there (e.g. produce more food) are all taken for granted. Beyond that, the marker of success in intergovernmental negotiations is arriving at a shared (intergovernmentally negotiated) vision and policy. This erasing of dissent and push for global consensus are indicative of what scholars have characterised as the post-political condition. In line with this, a key assumption of this paper is that a commitment to a universal and rational consensus on what makes a just and sustainable food future is both inadequate and potentially dangerous.
In this paper, I interrogate the post-political nature of global food security governance in the current era of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. I argue that key political reflexive practices and mechanisms can help to (re)politicise food security governance processes. I present the case of the UN's reformed Committee on World Food Security as a site where such practices are playing out. I conclude by reflecting on how such practices can prompt a re-politicization of food security governance and in doing so, open up new possibilities for just and sustainable food futures.
The agrarian strike strikes back: agrarian negotiations in Colombia and the food sovereignty movement
The paper explores Colombia’s agrarian negotiations between the national government and the agrarian movement Cumbre Agraria. It questions the extent to which such process can re-shape the debates on food policy in the context of a more democratic debate based on social and political recognition.
The current world agri-food system has been described by many as having perverse trends and outcomes that exclude poor and marginalized communities while providing support to those who need it less (Pimbert et al 2001, Thompson & Scoones 2009, Millstone et al 2009). But who represent these poor communities and what are they doing about such outcomes? How have these groups organised and created alternatives to overcome such inequalities? This paper explores Colombia's agrarian negotiations established after the 2013 and 2014 agrarian strikes between the national government and a group of agrarian movements that include peasant, indigenous and African-Colombian communities. The main questions this paper asks are: what are the competing visions and their implications for the national food system? to what extent can this negotiation re-shape the debates on food and agricultural policies? The agrarian movements are contesting the development model implemented by the government based on export-oriented agriculture and cheap food imports. Instead, they are proposing a peasant economy model based on food sovereignty and local food systems to supply the domestic demand. In this context I argue that the social and political recognition of the agrarian movements participating in the negotiations with the government is not only a step forward in the inclusion of the most marginalised rural communities, but a step towards a more democratic debate on food. A first analysis of this negotiation shows that the issue of food provision is emerging as a key debate in agrarian movements' struggle for justice and sustainability.
Food sovereignty, food security and democratic choice: critical contradictions, difficult conciliations
This paper critiques some of the major tenets of the global food sovereignty movement, and outlines ways of better achieving its goals of food security and social equality through innovative institutional change, without sacrificing individual freedoms and democratic choice.
In recent years, the concept of 'food sovereignty' has gained increasing ground among grassroots groups, taking the form of a global movement. But there is no uniform conceptualization of what food sovereignty constitutes. Indeed the definition has been expanding over time. It has moved from its initial focus on national self-sufficiency in food production ('the right of nations') to local self-sufficiency ('the rights of peoples'). There is also a growing emphasis on the rights of women and other disadvantaged groups, and on consensus building and democratic choice. This paper provides a critique of some of the major tenets of the food sovereignty movement. It recognizes that many developing countries may wish to pursue the goal of self-sufficiency in the context of the global food crises, and that it is important to promote social equality and democratic choice. Taken together, however, there can be serious contradictions between the key features of the food sovereignty vision, such as between the goals of national and local food self-sufficiency; between promoting food crops and a farmer's freedom to choose to what extent to farm, which crops to grow, and how to grow them; between strengthening family farming and achieving gender equality; and between collective and individual rights, especially over land ownership. The paper also reflects on ways in which some of the food sovereignty goals could be better achieved through innovative institutional change, without sacrificing an individual's freedom to choose.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.