Debriefing on the Parliamentary Debate about BHOS Policy | Food and Nutrition Security Network: a Key Role to make the Aid and Trade Policy Work in Practice

On Monday 3 October 2022, approximately 35 participants came together online to reflect on the recent Parliamentary debate about Minister Schreinemacher’s foreign trade and development cooperation (BHOS) policy, entitled ‘Doing what the Netherlands is good at’. The focus of the meeting hosted by NFP was on those aspects of the parliamentary debate that related to food and nutrition security.


Main Debates and Implications for Food and Nutrition Security

This article presents a few of the main insights from the debate. These build on the information shared by Partos, key reflections by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pitches from the Netherlands Working Group on Nutrition, the Food 4 All Coalition and Ante B.V., as well as on the open discussion that followed with all participants.

  1. Food security is a prominent domain in Dutch policy, with an increase in budget. Members of parliament recognised its importance, but did not pay much attention to agriculture, nature and food & nutrition security during the Parliamentary debate.
    Despite the increase in allocated budget as presented in the BHOS Policy Note and the crises around the food systems, the debate did not refer to food systems transitions, nutrition security, sustainable agricultural practices or deforestation. Participants in the online debriefing session thought these issues need to be kept high on the Dutch agenda, with a focus on the needs in low- and middle-income countries. Also in relation to other related ambitions such as SDG1: No Poverty. The main exception to the limited attention for food security was the motion by the PvdA and Groenlinks (in Dutch). It called for ensuring cohesion between current objectives and future policy strategies, such as the expected Africa Strategy, in view of contributing to global food security. Policy coherence was also stressed by the participants in the NFP debriefing session. The motion was adopted by parliament on 4 October.
  2. A call to everybody to make the combination between aid and trade work in practice.
    Several political parties shared their critical reflections on the proposed policy of Minister Schreinemacher regarding the combination of aid and trade. According to them, lessons from the IOB evaluation on aid and trade were not sufficiently taken on. In the debriefing session, participants observed that the food and nutrition security sector may have an important contribution to bring: the experience and knowledge of this sector can be of great value in making a just and green transition from aid to trade. NFP could play a proactive role therein according to participants. The experience from practice shared by Ante B.V. showcased the actions already undertaken by the private sector to combine aid and trade in agrifood business activities. The conversation highlighted that learning processes on making aid and trade work in fragile settings could be of benefit for the food and nutrition security sector’s activities. Also green education was mentioned as an opportunity that could contribute in developing innovative solutions that combine aid and trade.
  3. A new collaborative policy letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality was announced.
    This letter will build upon the already existing shared 2019 policy letter: ‘Towards a World Without Hunger in 2030: the Dutch contribution’, and gives a response to the latest development and the food crisis. The policy letter is likely available before the end of the year.
  4. Trade agreements are high on the agenda. Both in terms of questions about enforceable sustainability provisions in the trade agreements, as well as related to consequences of the impact of trade agreements on Dutch farmers. The impact of dumping was shared as one of the examples of negative effects of trade agreements, which is inconsistent with some of the instruments aimed to support small scale farmers in low and middle- income countries. The participants in the debriefing stressed the importance of domestic and regional markets.

A full report (in Dutch) of the debate in the parliamentary commission Foreign Trade & Development Cooperation about the Policy note ‘Doing what the Netherlands is good at’ is available here.

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