Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Happy to promote 3 new publications

1. Enhancing food security through a multi-stakeholder process: the global agenda for sustainable livestock , together with Jeroen Dijkman and Katrien Termeer

Feeding the world is not only a complex technical matter, but also a demanding governance issue. As food security has all the characteristics of a wicked problem (variety of problem definitions, conflicting interests, interconnectedness across scales, inherent uncertainties), conventional governance arrangements do not seem to work. New ways of concerted actions are introduced to better link global challenges with local practices. One example of this is the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock: a partnership of public, private, social, and civil society actors, committed to the sustainable development of the livestock sector. It aims to enhance shared understanding of sustainability and its underlying development issues and to build consensus on the path towards sustainable food security through dialogue, consultation, and joint analyses. This article analyses the Agenda as a new type of governance arrangement to enhance food security. It relies on a theoretical framework that consists of five governance capabilities, which are considered crucial for coping with wicked problems: reflexivity, resilience, responsiveness, revitalisation, and rescaling. The aim of this paper is threefold: 1) to assess the Agenda and learn from that; 2) to evaluate the capabilities framework as a tool to assess governance arrangements; and 3) to reflect on the potentials of new governance arrangements to deal with food security. The article illustrates how the governance capabilities framework can be used as a tool to analyse the multi-stakeholder platform for enhancing food security. It concludes that the Agenda successfully encompasses many elements of these capabilities although improvements are possible.

The European Commission's ability to cope with wicked problems is generally viewed as inadequate because of its hierarchical and inflexible modus operandi. Recent research suggests, however, that the Commission may be better equipped to deal with wicked problems than is commonly assumed. To elucidate these contradictory viewpoints, we analysed conditions that enable or constrain the Commission in dealing with wicked problems. To do so, we applied a framework consisting of five governance capabilities required to deal with wicked problems (reflexivity, responsiveness, resilience, revitalization and rescaling) to a case study of how the Commission deals with the wicked problem of food security. Although our results confirm some of the earlier critiques, we have also identified various enabling conditions, most notably inter-service and inter-institutional procedures and structures, boundary arrangements and a widespread tolerance of frame conflicts, uncertainty and cross-scale dynamics. However, the Commission lacks a mechanism to continuously monitor and adjust its capabilities, thereby running the risk of challenges remaining unforeseen and unanticipated.

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