New book: The Global Political Economy of Raúl Prebisch

9781138219779

I am happy to announce a new book by Mathias Margulis

The Global Political Economy of Raúl Prebisch offers an original analysis of global political economy by examining it through the ideas, agency and influence of one of its most important thinkers, leaders and personalities. Prebisch’s ground-breaking ideas as an economist – the terms-of-trade thesis and the economic case for state-led industrialization – changed the world and guided economic policy across the global South. As the head of two UN bodies – the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and later the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) – he was at the frontline of key North–South political struggles for a fairer global distribution of wealth and the regulation of transnational corporations.

Prebisch increasingly came to view political power, not just economic capabilities, as pivotal to shaping the institutions and rules of the world economy. This book contextualizes his ideas, exploring how they were used and their relevance to contemporary issues. The neoliberal turn in economics in North America, Western Europe and across the global South led to an active discrediting of Prebisch’s theories and this volume offers an important corrective, reintroducing current and future generations of scholars and students to this important body of work and allowing a richer understanding of past and ongoing political struggles.

To purchase the book click here [20% Discount Available – enter the code FLR40 at checkout*]

Introduction can be downloaded here. 

Muddy paddies and peace

MSc student Joëlla van de Griend has posted a nice blog about all the hard work we are doing here in Kyoto!

Rural Sociology Wageningen University

By  Joëlla van de Griend

‘Mountains covered with woods’ is used to describe the green area of Keihoku, just outside of Kyoto City. As part of the AGST program, students and faculty members visited a farming event organized by the Shinfujin Kyoto (the new Japan Women’s Association) and the Nouminren Kyoto (Japan Family Farmers Movement).

Rice planting.jpg Participants transplanting rice: Our academic hosts were not afraid to get their hands and feet dirty!

This event tries to make the connection between farmers and consumers and is visited by a lot of families. We can look at it as a celebration of what the earth has given to both farmers and consumers, illustrated by the waving flags showing the text: ‘Hug the Mother Earth’. For example, one of the farmers I met told me about how he grows his rice in the village at the foot of the mountain without making use of…

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Teaching Food Security Governance in Kyoto

I am thrilled to be teaching a month long course on Global Food Security Governance at the Kyoto University. I have been invited by the Graduate School of Economics as part of the Asian Platform for Global Sustainability & Transcultural Studies, Social Sciences and Humanities Unit.

The course is four weeks long and covers:

  • Context and concepts
  • Key issues and actors
  • Theories to support analysis
  • Methods for data collection and analysis

For more information see:  Lecture series Global Food Security Governance Kyoto

CFS Engagement in 2030 Agenda and its Thematic Reviews

By Martin Herren and Sonja Tschirren, Biovision 

This entry is part of a special series of blog posts about the UN’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS): The Future of the CFS? Collectively reflecting on the directions of UN’s most inclusive body. Read more about this project here.

With this post we continue with the fourth thematic cluster: “Emerging Issues at the CFS: How are they being addressed?”.  In what follows Martin Herren and Sonja Tschirren from Biovision provide their analysis of why the CFS should be more actively engaging in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

This is not an exclusive project. If you would like to participate, please let us know: foodsecuresolutions@gmail.com

sdg

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has considerably changed the landscape in which our work for increased sustainability of food systems evolves. Countries have started to gear their policy planning towards the Agenda’s targets and international agencies and platforms will provide support. Despite existing reservations towards the 2030 Agenda  and its design, Committee on World Food Security (CFS) stakeholders decided to engage in this process. Since this remains contested, in this blog entry we look at the potentials and challenges that the CFS might face when engaging in this new agenda. Given the fact that member states have actually embarked on this journey, we propose that the CFS should not engage half-heartedly in this new process and may have to look into options how to become more innovative to match the new Agenda’s setting with CFS mandate.

The CFS and HLPF, a good match?

In view of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF), intergovernmental bodies and forums, such as the CFS, will have an active role in supporting the thematic review of the implementation of Agenda 2030. In the Agenda 2030, paragraph 24, heads of governments reaffirm “the important role and inclusive nature of the Committee on World Food Security and welcome the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and Framework for Action.”

But what would a meaningful thematic review be? And in a more strategic perspective: could the 2030 Agenda be an opportunity for the CFS to position itself as a valuable player in the achievement of SDG 2 and related goals? The CFS is by mandate tasked to support global policy coordination, policy convergence and provide advice to member states on issues of food security and sustainable agriculture. That includes fostering the broad adoption of intergovernmentally negotiated CFS products (such as the Voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in the context of national food security  or Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems) guiding countries towards SDG 2. In this regard, a thematic review that discusses the progress on the uptake of these products by governments and the other stakeholder groups is certainly a valuable contribution to the HLPF.

Beyond such an important and obvious contribution to the HLPF review however, we would note that the 2030 Agenda and the review process via the HLPF provide room for interpretation regarding what a meaningful contribution by the foremost inclusive intergovernmental platform on questions of food and agriculture to the agenda could be. CFS stakeholders – especially member states – need to further gauge and deliberate this question. If they don’t, they could miss their return on investment they made so far in the CFS, leaving room for other competing organizations and stakeholder groups to define the food systems of the future, with virtually no coherence or convergence for member states to build on.

In the meantime, we could think a bit out of the box and come-up with a few thoughts on current and possible activities of the CFS to support the achievement of SDG2 and related goals.

Convergence of the Agendas Continue reading “CFS Engagement in 2030 Agenda and its Thematic Reviews”

Wageningen University Teacher of the Year Nominee #1: Jessica Duncan

I am very honoured to have made the short list for Teacher of Year 🙂

Rural Sociology Wageningen University

The first contender for the annual award of the University Fund Wageningen (UFW) is, according to the jury, a lecturer who is to be praised for her enthusiasm and audacity. Someone who is not afraid to tackle her lectures in a different way and is always open to feedback on her methods.

At the Rural Sociology Group we are very proud that Jessica Duncan is one of the six nominees for the Teacher of the Year award. The official ceremony in which the Teacher of the Year Award 2017 will be handed out is on April 6, 2017.

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Gender & Diversity in Sustainable Development

Excited to be teaching in this course in May. Registration is now open!

Rural Sociology Wageningen University

PhD Course Gender and Diversity

Wageningen University’s School of Social Sciences  (WASS) will be offering a PhD course in May and June 2017 called Gender and Diversity in Sustainable Development.  Bettina Bock and Jessica Duncan, both from RSO, will lecture in this course.

Date Mon 22 May 2017 until Fri 16 June 2017
Time 09:30
Venue Leeuwenborch, building number 201
Hollandseweg 1
201
6706 KN
Wageningen
0317-483639

Inequality lies at the center of current debates about sustainable development, from which a number of policy issues, including Sustainable Development Goals, emanate. Yet, how social (in)equality contributes to creating sustainable development often remains invisible in research. This course enables participants to recognize linkages between gender and diversity and sustainable development in a contemporary globalising world.

The topics covered in this course are:

  • Introduction: key concepts in gender studies
  • Trends form a historical perspective
  • Economics: macro and micro perspectives
  • Work and care
  • Population and migration
  • Food…

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Is there space for innovation (and technology) in the CFS?

By Allison Loconto

 This entry is part of a special series of blog posts about the UN’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS): The Future of the CFS? Collectively reflecting on the directions of UN’s most inclusive body. Read more about this project here.

Today we continue with our fourth thematic cluster: “Emerging Issues at the CFS: How are they being addressed?”.  In this post, Allison Loconto reflects on the politics of knowledge and techniques within in the CFS and in turn, how these contribute to food security.She acknowledges that frank debate about innovation and technology for sustainable agriculture and food security are not yet high on the CFS agenda, but that the CFS could become a mechanism to provide guidance on these questions as the global community begins to tackle them.

This is not an exclusive project. If you would like to participate, please let us know: foodsecuresolutions@gmail.com

 

Loconto pic.jpeg

Each of us attending the 43rd session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) this year came to the meetings with a different learning/research objective. For me, this year, I was interested in following a topic that was not a clear priority for the negotiations, but nonetheless kept popping up throughout the discussions: technology and innovation.

For someone who is quite interested in how knowledge about techniques (another way of thinking about technology) circulates, the 43rd CFS offered an interesting arena for understanding how politics around knowledge and techniques are contributing to broader questions of food security.

Throughout the week, technology could be found as a silent undercurrent that upholds specific positions in the political debates around trade and agricultural policy. For example, the strong anti-GMO position taken by civil society within the organic and agroecology movements is often countered by a strong private sector call for ‘science’ and public sector promotion of ‘productivism’ where the sole objective and value of agriculture for food security is reducing the yield gap. The latter position is part and parcel of the conventional wisdom about the need to modernize agriculture.

In the opening plenary session, the representative from South Sudan summed up this position saying: “We need to inject technology and information into our systems”, the representative from Nigeria likewise stated that their cows are only producing 1 litre of milk per day and “the will of the people is to increase their production – but the challenges are so deep they cannot [access technology]”,  while the Chinese representative stated very clearly that they are strongly committed to linking together agricultural modernization, industrialization and information technology.

This idea that technology and information can be injected like medicine into the arm of a sick patient and will solve systemic problems of food security and development both ignores processes of innovation that can explain how technology becomes useful (and thus widely used) and how information must be turned into different forms of knowledge that are actionable (Gorman, 2002).

There is an assumed linear path for innovation that begins with invention, follows through technology and product development and design, and ends with commercialization. Following this logic, individual scientists and companies invent (the latest EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard figures show the more than 50% of R&D spending in the Agriculture and Food sectors come from private investment), with state investment through R&D funding (and protection of patent registration).

The private sector commercializes and develops products. The public sector distributes the benefits to all people (to prevent poverty), extension diffuses the new technologies and more broadly, the State manages environmental and social impacts of technology and innovation. Here, civil society is a watchdog that calls out bad technologies or bad practices while the majority of the people are consumers, producers, employees and voters (but not innovators).

However, there is significant evidence of innovation as multi-actor networked paths, rather than linear paths. A number of scholars have differently named these phenomena where innovation has become a collective endeavor (Van de Ven, 1999), with inventors and users collaborating and sharing ideas and information. These have been referred to alternatively as user innovation (Von Hippel, 1976); co-inventor networks (Breschi and Malerba, 2005); open innovation (Chesbrough, 2003); open source (Raymond, 2001); participatory design (Schuler and Namioka, 1993); community innovation (van Oost et al., 2009); upstream engagement (Macnaghten et al., 2005); mid-stream modulation (Fisher et al., 2006); Constructive Technology Assessment (Rip et al., 1995); cooperative research (Kleinknecht and Reijnen, 1992); democratising innovation (von Hippel, 2005; Felt et al., 2007); responsible innovation (Guston, 2006); responsible research and innovation (Von Schomberg, 2013; Stilgoe et al.); social innovation (Stirling, 2008); and grassroots innovation (Smith and Seyfang, 2013).

Therefore, “innovation is not simply a technology (or a technical object), it must be the reorganization of institutions, organizations, value chains, and businesses to enable actors to innovate on their own terms” (Felt et al., 2007). This means that innovation is not a new technology, but a new way of doing things. Thus, if innovation is a collective reorganization of systems, can we not also consider it to be innovative uses of old technologies, new combinations of traditional knowledge and techniques or perhaps the discontinuation of some technologies that have not become useful to many people?

These alternative ideas about innovation were highlighted during the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation CFS side event entitled ‘Who Will and How Will We Feed Humanity’. A panel of four speakers, representing the private sector (Syngenta), civil society (ETC Group) and farmers (Via Campesina) and a donor (GAFSP), tried to find complementarity between contrasting approaches to achieving food security and nutrition.

The motivation for this side event was precisely that discussions around how to achieve food security and nutrition and the related SDG targets are often polarized, with core challenges being framed based on an ideology or perspective (such as modernization, or productivity). As we know from theories of the performativity (Callon, 2010), different framings can lead to different and sometimes contrasting approaches to solving them. This is one of the reasons why this panel discussion was so interesting. We got to confront face to face these different framings of a single (hypothetical) problem of constraints on food security in two countries.

Continue reading “Is there space for innovation (and technology) in the CFS?”