Coping with justice, democracy and sustainability. The case of the Dutch food sovereignty movement and its relation to government policy directed at food security in Africa
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The concept and social movement of food sovereignty set requirements to the way food security is reached. Its proponents argue that food security should be reached by taking into account the principles of democracy, justice and sustainability. Meanwhile, the conventional discourse surrounding food security is based on the assumption that food security goals can be met through global commodity markets, increased production and the modernisation of the food system. This dissertation aims to find out in which respects (if any) the Dutch food sovereignty movement influences, and can influence, Dutch government policy directed at food security in Africa. By means of a critical discourse analysis of policy documents I have first investigated the assumptions and logic underlying the Dutch food security policy. The conclusion from this analysis is that the Dutch government uses its food security policy to advance economic interests of private business in emerging markets in Africa. The government’s argument that socio-economic development there proceeds in an inclusive way is flawed because market-based development is structured around commercially viable investments in the food system, thus disadvantaging the most food-insecure segments of society that do not fulfil this criterion. Through interviews with individuals in Dutch food sovereignty organisations, I have found out that the movement is not subsumed under the government’s food security discourse. Instead, it aims to structurally influence the entire food security discourse and policy. While all organisations in the food sovereignty movement adhere to its principles, their strategies to influence the government were different. With respect to the idea of a facilitating role for the Dutch government in African development policy, the food sovereignty movement has a hard time finding ways to influence government policy. For promoting transformations in food security policies and discourse, it will have to depend on strategies characterised by ‘unity through diversity’.