Ebba Dohlman: The Finnish food security pilot – an important step in advancing Policy Coherence for Development

Advancing on Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) was an important common objective for OECD, for Finland and for Kehys in 2012.

That year, the OECD Council Meeting at Ministerial Level agreed on a landmark Strategy on Development. This whole-of-OECD, whole-of-government agreement reassessed the global landscape for development, endorsed a new Vision for the Organisation’s work in this area, and set out a new approach based on two key pillars: knowledge sharing among a greater number of actors, and policy coherence for development.

The Strategy promises to “seek to deepen the Organisation’s work on PCD to develop more systematic approaches to evidence-based analyses on the costs of incoherent policies as well as on the benefits of more coherent policies.” The Strategy also states, that “[t]he OECD will contribute to the analysis of key issues, such as global food security, illicit financial flows and green growth”.

The Strategy helped create new momentum on PCD and launch new thematic work streams identified by OECD Members as having a high PCD priority. In response to this strong mandate, the PCD Unit started developing a Framework (analytical, institutional, and monitoring) which includes guidance and checklists in these three thematic areas, starting with food security.

It was against this background that OECD started an important collaboration with Finland’s MFA on food security in which Kehys had a key role. Finland has long been a champion of PCD at the OECD. When it volunteered in June 2012 to pilot our thematic module on Food Security, it was an opportunity for us at OECD to get important feedback from a member on the use of our tools. It was an opportunity for stakeholders in Finland to better understand the multi-disciplinary nature of food security challenges and Finland’s role in addressing them.  It was also an opportunity to ensure that problems related to food security were taken into account in a coherent way throughout the state administration, in national policies and particularly in influencing the relevant EU policies.

Finally, it offered Finland a chance to lead by example on an issue which affects as many as 800 million men, women and children worldwide.  In light of the successful implementation of the food security pilot, representatives from Finland have been asked on numerous occasions to talk about their experience with the pilot and for others to consider replicating it elsewhere.

So how did it work and what was Kehys’ role? The first step consisted in holding a high level meeting in Helsinki in June 2012. The MFA had invited OECD staff, from both the PCD Unit – to present the Thematic module on Food Security – and the Trade and Agriculture Directorate – to present the evidence on food security in all its dimensions. This helped ensure buy-in for the pilot exercise, which was then launched officially.

A few months later, the MFA set up a steering group comprising experts from a wide range of stakeholder organisations and with strong support from Kehys. They included: the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (both development and trade departments), Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Ministry of Economy and Employment, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki University, Pellervo Economic Research, Statistics Finland, Agrifood Research Finland, Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners, Kehys and Finn Church Aid.

The pilot was then executed in six phases, with each phase led by a different stakeholder. Kehys was responsible for the methodology.  It took about a year to complete, but was a great success by all accounts.  The stakeholders were highly engaged and wanted to maintain the steering group beyond the completion of the report. It resulted in the implementation of several recommendations, including importantly a country case study on the impact of OECD countries’ policies on food security in Tanzania (study carried out by ECDPM), and it resulted in a positive assessment in the evaluation of the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ Development Policy Programmes. None of this would have been possible without the support of Kehys and the strong leadership role played by its Secretary-General, Rilli Lappalainen.

Kehys has been – and still is –  a strong proponent of policy coherence for “sustainable” development (PCSD).  It is  an important partner for Finland as it seeks to put in place and roll-out its SDG Strategy, and it is an important partner in OECD’s efforts to support its members on PCSD as a key means of implementation for the Sustainable Development Goals.  Kehys is one of the early partners in the PCSD Partnership Platform, supported by the OECD under the UN Platform. We look forward to further collaboration in the months and years ahead.

Ebba Dohlman

The author is the Head of the OECD PCD Unit.

This blog entry is part of an anniversary blog series that celebrates Kehys’ 15-year journey. The #Kehys15 -blog series consists of one guest blog for every year Kehys has been active.

20.11.2017