The SDGs and reforming policy coherence in the Netherlands: The case of food and agriculture 

Led by Abbie Yunita

As an integrated and universal policy framework, the SDGs call for coherent policies to address the interlinkages among the goals, domestically and abroad. The research explores how the SDGs influence the Dutch approach to coherence building in food and agriculture, by making explicit the ways in which sectoral policies are made to cohere.

This case serves two purposes. First, as a leading trading nation, the Netherlands positions itself as both innovator and promoter of integrated solutions for sustainable food transitions, at home and abroad. Second, precisely because food and agriculture are deeply intertwined with the political economy of the state, they exemplify the tensions between the economic, environmental and social dimensions of the SDGs. This research is based on an analysis of policy documents and evaluation reports on policy coherence, food and agriculture, and foreign trade and development cooperation from 2013 to the present; in addition to semi-structured interviews with public, private and civil society actors involved in policy processes.

While the SDGs have ushered in new policies to foster greater coherence, analyses on how or why these policies have materialised are scarce. Empirically, there is much to uncover on why and how states translate the ideas and norms espoused by the SDGs. In attending to the policy process, this research thus contributes to an empirical understanding of how the interrelated and universalist nature of the SDGs are translated and become embedded in national policy, and with what consequences.