The wicked problem of food
security in EU policy formation
Jeroen Candel
25 April 2014, UCR Middelburg
About me
• Studied Public Governance in Utrecht
• PhD Candidate ‘food security governance’ at
Public Administration and Po...
Structure of the lecture
• What are wicked problems?
• Food security as a wicked problem
Short break
• Food security in th...
Wicked problems: context
• Introduced by Rittel and Webber 1973
• ideal of rational policy making: objective,
evidence bas...
However:
• Some problems particularly stubborn
• Cannot be solved in terms efficiency only
• Involve wide range of values
...
Wicked problems
• Paradigm science and engineering not
applicable to problems of open societal
systems
• These problems ar...
Properties wicked problems
1. No definitive formulation: is the problem!
2. Have no stopping rule
4. No immediate test of ...
Examples?
After Rittel & Webber
• Thinking engrained in Public Administration
and Policy studies
• However: still many wicked proble...
Food security
Food security defined as:
“all people, at all times, having physical, social
and economic access to sufficie...
2007-2008 & 2010 food price crises
Solubility
Isn’t it just a matter of giving food to people?
Food security as a wicked problem
• What is the problem? Food production?
Sustainability? Inequality? Trade barriers?
• Hi...
Big debate in Wageningen
Food security in the CAP
Candel, J.J.L., Breeman, G.E., Stiller, S.J.,
Termeer, C.J.A.M. (2014) Disentangling the
consensu...
Research puzzle
• Pervasiveness of food security arguments
• What do actors mean when they invoke food
security? What clai...
Productionist frame
• Produce more food (double in 2050)
Stimulating production and productivity
• EU food security not s...
Environmental frame
• Focus on negative effects intensive agriculture on
environment
• Long-term perspective
• Problems: c...
Development frame
• Focus on impact CAP on food security developing
countries
• European vs. global food security
• Income...
Wickedness
• Various, sometimes conflicting problem
definitions and solutions
• Today’s problems emerge as a result of try...
Ongoing research
• Focus on European Commission
• Interview round at DGs (Devco, Agri, MARE,
Trade, Envi, SG, ECHO, Sanco,...
Theoretical debate
“the Commission is highly ‘stove-piped’, its
administrative code is burdensome, it is resource-
poor, a...
Counter argument
• Many developments that are aimed at
enhancing coordination: stronger role SG,
impact assessments, inter...
Preliminary findings
• Fragmented approach (not necessarily bad!)
• Approached as technical excercise, but highly
politica...
Preliminary conclusions
• Formal structures and procedures both hinder
and enable governance of wicked problems
• Informal...
Looking back
• Many policy problems can be characterized as
wicked
• Food security is a good example of a wicked
problem
•...
Thank you for your attention!
Any questions?
Contact details:
Jeroen.candel@wur.nl
Twitter: @JeroenWUR
The Wicked Problem of Food Security in EU Policy Formation
The Wicked Problem of Food Security in EU Policy Formation
The Wicked Problem of Food Security in EU Policy Formation
The Wicked Problem of Food Security in EU Policy Formation
The Wicked Problem of Food Security in EU Policy Formation
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The Wicked Problem of Food Security in EU Policy Formation

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Lecture given at University College Roosevelt in Middelburg (The Netherlands) on 25 April 2014, about 'the wicked problem of food security in EU policy formation'. Content:
*What are wicked problems?
*Why is food security a good example of a wicked problem?
*How can this be observed in the EU's Common Agricultural Policy?
*How does the European Commission deal with the wickedness of food security?

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The Wicked Problem of Food Security in EU Policy Formation

  1. 1. The wicked problem of food security in EU policy formation Jeroen Candel 25 April 2014, UCR Middelburg
  2. 2. About me • Studied Public Governance in Utrecht • PhD Candidate ‘food security governance’ at Public Administration and Policy group of Wageningen University • Currently guest PhD at Antwerp Centre for Institutions and Multi-level Politics, UA • Main focus: food security controversies in EU policy development
  3. 3. Structure of the lecture • What are wicked problems? • Food security as a wicked problem Short break • Food security in the EU Common Agricultural policy • How does the EU deal with the wickedness of food security?
  4. 4. Wicked problems: context • Introduced by Rittel and Webber 1973 • ideal of rational policy making: objective, evidence based, professionals, and optimal solutions  “the planning idea”, “makeability” • “popular attack”: increasing societal scrutinity • Still: many problems solved
  5. 5. However: • Some problems particularly stubborn • Cannot be solved in terms efficiency only • Involve wide range of values • Goal formulation proved difficult • “One of most intractable problems is defining problems” and identifying actions
  6. 6. Wicked problems • Paradigm science and engineering not applicable to problems of open societal systems • These problems are inherently different • Tame vs. wicked problems • Ten properties
  7. 7. Properties wicked problems 1. No definitive formulation: is the problem! 2. Have no stopping rule 4. No immediate test of solution: consequences cannot be predicted 6. No enumerable set solutions: rely on poltical judgment 7. Unique 8. Can be symptom of other problem 9. Discrepancy can be explained in numerous ways  Planner/expert also player in political game
  8. 8. Examples?
  9. 9. After Rittel & Webber • Thinking engrained in Public Administration and Policy studies • However: still many wicked problems approached as if they can be solved • Particularly also in life sciences: climate change, sustainability, nature conservation, and food security • Recent decade: what type of governance systems needed?
  10. 10. Food security Food security defined as: “all people, at all times, having physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (FAO 2003) Availability, access, utilization, and stability
  11. 11. 2007-2008 & 2010 food price crises
  12. 12. Solubility Isn’t it just a matter of giving food to people?
  13. 13. Food security as a wicked problem • What is the problem? Food production? Sustainability? Inequality? Trade barriers? • High degrees uncertainty • Conflicting problem definitions and solutions • Cross-scale: short vs. long term, multi-level governance, multi-sector  Nobody is against ‘food security’, but what is meant with it? And how to address it?
  14. 14. Big debate in Wageningen
  15. 15. Food security in the CAP Candel, J.J.L., Breeman, G.E., Stiller, S.J., Termeer, C.J.A.M. (2014) Disentangling the consensus frame of food security: the case of the Common Agricultural Policy reform debate. Food policy 44: 47-58 • CAP: main EU agricultural steering device • 2009-2013 reform • Convergence, greening, safety nets
  16. 16. Research puzzle • Pervasiveness of food security arguments • What do actors mean when they invoke food security? What claims do they make? • Analysis stakeholder input • Identification of 6 frames: cognitive and communicative stories that actors use to make sense of the world
  17. 17. Productionist frame • Produce more food (double in 2050) Stimulating production and productivity • EU food security not self-evident • Threats: volatility and dependence on imports • Solutions: income support, same criteria for imports
  18. 18. Environmental frame • Focus on negative effects intensive agriculture on environment • Long-term perspective • Problems: climate change, environmental degradation (soil, biodiversity, etc.) • Greening, better targeting of support, change towards more plant-based diets
  19. 19. Development frame • Focus on impact CAP on food security developing countries • European vs. global food security • Income support considered as core problem & negative socio-environmental impacts imports • Solutions: eliminate trade-distorting measures, allow developing countries to protect their markets, policy coherence
  20. 20. Wickedness • Various, sometimes conflicting problem definitions and solutions • Today’s problems emerge as a result of trying to understand and solve yesterday’s problems • Solubility? Highly political! How do EU policy-makers deal with this?
  21. 21. Ongoing research • Focus on European Commission • Interview round at DGs (Devco, Agri, MARE, Trade, Envi, SG, ECHO, Sanco, etc.) in Spring 2014 • To what extent is Commission capable of dealing wisely with the wicked problem of food security in its policy formation process?
  22. 22. Theoretical debate “the Commission is highly ‘stove-piped’, its administrative code is burdensome, it is resource- poor, and it is heavily dependent for its success on its relationship with other EU institutions. And still it is tasked with trying to solve ‘wicked problems’, whose very nature makes it unlikely that they can be solved by administration that strictly observe their own administrative code, especially one as cumbersome as the under which the Commission operates.” (Kassim et al. 2013)
  23. 23. Counter argument • Many developments that are aimed at enhancing coordination: stronger role SG, impact assessments, inter-service consultations • Kassim et al.: personal networks matter!  In depth study of case food security
  24. 24. Preliminary findings • Fragmented approach (not necessarily bad!) • Approached as technical excercise, but highly political! • Services have own views, but cooperate relatively well • Many demands and views: balancing act • High dependence on Parliament and Council
  25. 25. Preliminary conclusions • Formal structures and procedures both hinder and enable governance of wicked problems • Informal processes ‘oil in the machine’ • Steering capacaties Commission limited
  26. 26. Looking back • Many policy problems can be characterized as wicked • Food security is a good example of a wicked problem • FS in the EU is characterized by conflicting frames (CAP reform) • The wickedness of FS poses specific challenges to the Commission, to which it is only partly able to respond
  27. 27. Thank you for your attention! Any questions? Contact details: Jeroen.candel@wur.nl Twitter: @JeroenWUR
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