BLOG: NWGN’s response to the new Dutch policy for Foreign Trade & Development Cooperation “Doing what the Netherlands is good at”

The policy document Doing what the Netherlands is good at was approved by the cabinet on June 24, 2022. In April NWGN participated in the consultation that supported the development of this new policy for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation for the years ahead: we submitted our input to the online consultation (available on request) and participated in the session that the Netherlands Food Partnership (NFP) had organised to collect inputs from the Food and Nutrition Sector.

On behalf of the NWGN management team co-chair Arine Valstar participated in the Food and Nutrition Security Policy Briefing organised by NFP to discuss the new policy among key stakeholders on June 30, 2022. She made the following pitch:

“NWGN welcomes the integration between themes and sectors, especially climate is well integrated throughout the policy and it is good to see that there is more attention for policy coherence and sustainability in trade and private sector support. We especially welcome the ambition to lift 32 mln people out of malnutrition by 2030, but we do have three main concerns:

  1. The policy does not describe HOW these 32 mln will be lifted out of malnutrition. It only elaborates on food security, not NUTRITION security. And food security and increased food production are not sufficient to reach nutrition security. Not only staple foods like wheat and rice is needed, diverse diets are required to provide all nutrients for healthy diets. Next to healthy diets also health and care is required for nutrition security to prevent not only undernutrition (wasting and stunting) but also overweight en obesity which have become a heavy burden undermining human well-being and health care budgets all over the world.
  2. While the policy includes integration between SDGs we do miss the Food System approach that we had recommended. The food systems approach enables to address food security- nutrition- climate- biodiversity and water challenges in a systemic sustainable way. To ensure improved availability and affordability of nutritious foods, food systems transformation should be accelerated. Healthy diets form a prerequisite for nutrition security we recommend here again to use the food system approach
  3. We miss the link nutrition – poverty: – so important as poverty is both a cause and an outcome of malnutrition. Addressing malnutrition lifts families out of the cycle of poverty as it increases mental and physical capacities. Therefore nutrition security is an important lever for poverty reduction. Well-nourished children grow up to become smarter and more productive adults. And there is evidence that investing one euro in nutrition gives a return of 16 euro for a country’s GDP (Global Nutrition Report, 2015)! Therefore it is so important to support countries to invest in nutrition. And to make all of the Dutch support to agriculture nutrition sensitive! What does this mean: nutrition sensitive agriculture? It means taking into account women empowerment, awareness raising on adequate Infant and Young Child Feeding practices and family food behaviours – promoting diversity in diets so that all nutrients are included.

Clearly investing in nutrition is a win win situation! (but one that was not included in the section on Win Wins at the end of the policy document). Nutrition investments are a win win because they will not only increase welfare of people and economic growth but will also contribute to many of the other SDGs.”

Other pitches as well as the panel discussion raised several issues that we had also recommended including expanding the capacity in our embassies to better target and fine tune support to local farmers and SMEs and the need for the Netherlands to perform better in our own food sector (so that we will not remain the last EU country on the SDG spill-over ranking and will have more authority, and therefore impact, in the international arena according to the Food4All coalition). The representative of the Ministry did not want to say much in response to our question whether overpopulation, as a key lever for climate change and biodiversity loss, will be addressed in any way in the new policy. Only that they will take a young and fast growing population into account in implementation.

More information on the NFP Policy briefing can be found at: