Agriculture and food are central to the economic security for the Netherlands specifically, but also for the EU in a broader sense. Overall, both security of demand and supply are of vital importance for the economic security of the Dutch agriculture and food sector. The broader, long-term sustainability of Dutch agriculture is a key concern. And at the European level, the overall competitiveness of agriculture keeps playing an important role. We cannot ignore that the development of large economies – for example, the BRICs will continue to bring up serious challenges for the future of agriculture. For example, with their huge populations, these countries will thus substantially contribute to the increase of the global demand for meat.
Who will produce and eat tomorrow’s food is a complex and uncertain issue. As a result, having a broad sense of thoughts about the future of agriculture is of utmost importance.
We performed a research to find out how different countries, in the Chinese, English, and Portuguese language domains, as well as in Africa, are thinking about the future of agriculture. For this purpose, we used the HCSS MetaFore protocol as a methodology for the systemic coding of relevant government and think tank foresight studies about this topic. This study was performed as part of the project Future Contours of Agriculture and Food. It seeks to better inform decision makers from government and industry in preparing for the challenges of this future environment. It has a modular setup: the results presented here can be built upon in order to gain a better insight in the future nature of agriculture and food. More generally, they could provide supporting material to develop agricultural policies that would help both producers and consumers benefit from the fruits of sustainable food production, now and in the future.
Interested readers can request our Technical Report, which includes a more comprehensive version of the research, from the methodology to the most detailed findings, and the Annex, which provides the list of foresights per language domain and geographical zone.
The report can be downloaded with the button on the right.
Authors: HCSS, Eline Chivot, Willem Auping, Roberta Coelho, Freija van Duijne, Mayuri Mukherjee, João Almeida Silveira, Michelle Yuemin Yang
Commissioned by The Hague Security Delta (HSD), The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies wrote this report. Read more here.
This analysis was requested by the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands for developing policy strategies to further expand the influence of sustainability schemes – and here in particular, for the production of palm oil and soy. Insight into the discourse by the government of these countries and their interest in the Dutch efforts towards sustainable production can be useful to determine which strategies would be effective. As such, this study aims to identify which are the issues and priorities governmental publications focus on in their discourse on the production, trade and consumption of soy and palm oil. We studied all webpages of governmental websites (webpages published from 2007 till 2014) for Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Our study brings some evidence of a gap between ‘the walk and the talk’, and of the possible bias in interpreting a country’s position and priorities. We also provide a number of recommendations to help in addressing this broad range of concerns when communicating and working with these countries. This may complement and improve the way communication is built between the Netherlands and these countries, in order to foster a better understanding, allow for a more efficient collaboration, and lead to fruitful benefits.
This study is also an attempt to explore the usefulness of new data sources and data analysis tools. Using a programming language, HCSS set out to construct a new database consisting of all retrievable text–based webpages from the Ministries of five countries that play a key role in relevance to the research topic. We then applied a number of textmining tools to this new dataset, in order to automatically identify the main topics to have emerged from these websites as well as a number of associations with some topics of interest.
Send us an email if you wish to request access to our Technical Appendix, which includes a more detailed version of our entire research process, methodologies and findings, as well as two Annexes. The first provides data on global trade to inform the introduction of the report on soy and palm oil. The second assesses the extent to which each country includes the Netherlands’ Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) in the official discourse.
Authors and Contributors: HCSS, Eline Chivot, Antoine Carnet, Francesco Corsini, Freija van Duijne, Nicolas Fassetta, Andrea Fassina, Laurin Hainy, Wan–Chun Hsu, Denis Kulicek, Mayuri Mukherjee, Caroline Saweho, João Almeida Silveira, Stephan de Spiegeleire.
In collaboration with the Agricultural Councils at the Dutch embassies of Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.
The modern welfare state is under stress. The Great Recession has had a severe impact on public finances in the Netherlands and in many other EU member states. While the pace of fiscal consolidation remains a very controversial topic, few would dispute the need to move public finances towards a more sustainable trajectory at some point in the future. Given that social spending constitutes the largest share of public expenditure in the Netherlands, it is inevitable that the questions about the affordability of existing welfare programs are being raised.
The modern welfare state is also affected by various long-term structural changes in our society. Population aging is creating additional demands on the pension, health and long-term care systems at the same time when governments are looking for ways to cut public spending. Globalization makes capital and labor more mobile. This makes raising fiscal revenue to pay for the social services and transfers more challenging. Skill-biased technical change destroys many medium- and low-skilled jobs and contributes to raising inequality. Family patterns are changing as well, bringing about new risks.
All these trends and challenges point to a clear bottom line: the welfare state has to change. King Willem-Alexander in his Speech from the Throne in September 2013 essentially announced that the old welfare state is dead and has to be replaced with a ‘participation society’.
The new HCSS report Beyond the Welfare State takes a broad look at the welfare state: its historical evolution, and its different types in various countries. The report provides an in-depth study of several economic and societal trends that create substantial challenges for the welfare state. It also examines the efforts to reform various aspects of the welfare state that have been undertaken so far in a number of European countries. Finally, it outlines general approaches and principles that can serve as a basis for reforming the welfare state.
The report can be downloaded with the button on the right.
Something’s afoot with power. The nation state is being challenged structurally and institutionally. Its model of hierarchical power, monopoly on violence, and binding law, is being squeezed from below and from above - by grassroots organizations on the one end and supranational organizations on the other. Development aid is becoming caught up with strategic interests in the political, military and economic areas. Centralized power with major international oil companies is a thing of the past. The internet has the capacity to bring people together, or to divide them. All of these developments are changing our world drastically, and altering our view on the world.
In ‘The Fission of Power’, we make sense of these different changes, and demonstrate what they have in common. Power is becoming more widely distributed, more accessible, and more evanescent—but without losing amplitude. As a result, actors of all kinds must be more ‘flexible under flux’: they must take on a more agile and networked approach to implementing their decisions, prepare for change, and engage in more iterative and experimentalist forms of decision-making. The first step is to recognize the changing nature of power in a fragmented world.
You can download the report with the button on the right.
Commissioned by The Hague Security Delta (HSD), The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies wrote this report on the emerging market for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
The report was presented at the TUsExpo 2015. Read more here.
Supply and demand of resources are connected in multiple and complex ways. This interconnectivity has been framed as the global resource nexus. This study focuses on the nexus of five essential natural resources: land, food, energy, water, and minerals. In order to meet the demand for resources from present and future generations, strategic thinking about interdependencies between the supply of and demand for resources is paramount.
This report provides insight into the complex interaction between resource supply and demand, global megatrends such as economic growth, climate change, urbanization and demographics, and broader nexus variables such as human resources, technology, governance, social and political factors and instability.
Comprising case studies on soy from Brazil, cocoa from Côte d’Ivoire and palm oil from Malaysia, the report illustrates how the nexus dynamics create various risks to the sustainable security of supply of agricultural commodities that are of high importance to the Dutch agri-food sector.
The results of this research can be used to strengthen existing initiatives for sustainable supply chain management, and to facilitate policy making in this field. To this end, the report contains a chapter with recommendations on how policymakers can use the global resource nexus framework proposed in this report.
China is under extreme pressure to meet the growing demand for high-value and safe food of middle- and high-income households. Food security - crucial for socio-political stability – and upgrading food quality and safety have been prioritized by the Chinese government. This offers business opportunities for the Netherlands.
The supply capacity and knowledge of the Dutch agri-food sector can contribute to a more diversified and sustainable food supply of trustworthy quality in China. At the same time, however, Dutch companies operating in China experience considerable risks, ranging from an unlevel playing field with Chinese state-owned companies, ill secured intellectual property and rights, unfavorable ownership regulations, barriers for market entry, and foreign competitors.
This report aims to provide an impetus for a more strategic Dutch agri-food policy towards China. It discusses the merits of reciprocity as a basis for more intense cooperation between the Netherlands and China based on shared interests in the agri-food domain. It has been commissioned from HCSS and LEI Wageningen UR by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs with the aim of exploring ways in which the Dutch Topsectors Agri & Food and Horticulture & Propagation Materials can strengthen their position in China.
Download the report with the top button on the right. The Annex can be downloaded via the second button.
In October 2014, European leaders will decide on the EU climate and energy policy (CEP) framework for 2030. The proposed framework by the European Commission sets new targets for renewable energy, reducing green house emissions, and increasing energy efficiency.
The public debate centers on whether the proposal is ambitious enough. Puzzlingly, the geopolitical dimension of European climate and energy policies remains underexposed. This HCSS report analyzes the geopolitical consequences of continuing European reliance on fossil fuels (‘business as usual’) versus a gradual European transition towards 80% or more renewable energy.
Policy makers deciding on Europe’s energy future should take the geopolitical consequences of climate and energy policies firmly into account. CEP will influence the extent to which the EU will face security challenges brought about by climate change. Resource scarcity, changes in agricultural productivity, migration flows, and humanitarian catastrophes caused by climate change heighten the risk of social and political instability, as well as conflict, especially in volatile regions.
The EU 2030 policy framework also has the potential to either perpetuate or transform the structural interdependencies encapsulated in the energy trade relations of the fossil fuel economy. Continued dependence on fossil fuels harnesses several risks for the EU, ranging from price volatility, supply risks associated with dependence on imports from politically unstable regions, gradual depletion of easily recoverable and economically viable resources, and global competition over available supplies. A European transition to 80% or more renewable energy could decrease the EU’s energy dependence and make it less vulnerable to economic and political pressure of energy suppliers, such as Russia. In the medium term, however, decreasing oil and gas revenues may negatively affect the stability in rentier states, where autocratic regimes may no longer be able to finance the social contract with the population. Turmoil in these countries creates new security challenges for the EU.
Download the report with the button on the right.
Raw materials dialogues
So far the EU has developed policy dialogues on raw materials with partners such as Argentina, Chile, China, Colombia, EuroMed countries, Greenland, Japan, Mexico, Russia, United States of America and Uruguay.
It is essential for the EU that international raw materials markets operate in a free and transparent way. However, many countries are increasingly applying measures - such as export taxes, import duties, price-fixing, and restrictive investment rules - which distort these markets. The net effect of these distortions is that the manufacturing industry, in developed, emerging and developing countries, suffer when access is distorted in this way.
As a response to these priority trade policy issues, the EU’s trade strategy has been threefold:
1. 1. Propose trade disciplines on export restrictions in bilateral and multilateral negotiations,
2. 2. Tackle trade barriers through dialogue but also other tools including WTO dispute settlements and the Market Access Partnerships, and
3. 3. Raise awareness and support awareness-raising in international fora such as the G8, G20, OECD and UNCTAD
A second report outlining the main results achieved was published in May 2012.
The EU promotes sustainable access to raw materials in its development policy. In the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, a bilateral cooperation was launched on raw materials, covering issues related to governance, investments and geological knowledge. Moreover, in the area of transparency and financial payments in the mining sector, the EU will enhance its support for the EITI (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative) and share best practice with international organisations such as the World Bank and the OECD. Building on experiences like the Kimberley Process, the EU will examine ways to improve transparency throughout the mineral supply chain and, in co-ordination with key trade partners, tackle the use of extractive industry revenues to fund wars or conflicts.
The Commission proposed actions for trade and development as outlined in the Raw Materials Initiative strategy document published on 2 February 2011.
Raw materials are the basis of a large number of industrial value chains in the EU. Specific raw materials are needed to make a wide range of industrial goods such as car engines, mobile phones or wind turbines.
EU raw materials' industry in a nutshell
- A large number of industries use raw materials as inputs, providing a total added value of €1300 billion.
- 30 million people employed in the raw materials' industrial sector
- A sustainable supply of particular raw materials is of crucial importance for the development of green technologies
EU Trade policy and raw materials
Raw materials play a significant role for the EU trade policy. In concrete terms, the European Commission developed a fully-fledged strategy for raw materials, which was outlined in the 2008 Communication entitled the Raw Materials Initiative. This was revised in February 2011 in a Communication, which further boosted the integration of raw material priorities in EU policies.
EU Trade policy is actively committed to ensure that the international raw materials markets operate in a free and transparent way. For this purpose, the EU’s trade strategy relies on three pillars:
1. Definition of the rules of the game through bilateral and multilateral negotiations
2. Enforcing the rules and tackling market barriers when required
3. Promotion of the debate on raw materials, both in bilateral and multilateral settings.
Results on raw materials
- EU-Korea FTA includes the prohibition of duties, taxes or other fees on exportation.
- Upcoming EU-Singapore FTA includes the prohibition of duties, taxes or measures of an equivalent effect on exportation.
- EU and Central America, and Colombia/Peru trade agreements include a prohibition of export duties or taxes, with some minor exceptions.
- WTO accession Tajikistan: a commitment was secured on the prohibition of export duties or taxes, except for a list of products with bound rates.
- WTO raw materials’ cases against China: successful conclusion of the first WTO case against China’s export restrictions on 9 raw materials (bauxite, coke, fluorspar, magnesium, manganese, silicon carbide, silicon metal, yellow phosphorus and zinc) which were found in violation of WTO rules and of China’s commitments; a second case has been launched in 2012 against export restrictions applied by China on another set of products (rare earths, tungsten and molybdenum).
-Outreach and transparency work in the OECD outreach to third non-OECDcountries is on-going, notably in close cooperation with the OECD.
More on raw material
- DG Trade - Raw materials policy 2009 annual report
- EU Trade Policy for Raw Materials - Second Activity Report (issued in May 2012)
- DG Enterprise and Industry's webpage: Raw Materials – International Aspects
When looking at climate change and natural disasters, the focus of governments and companies is increasingly shifting from mitigation to adaptation, or ‘resilience’: how do we make sure systems bounce back as quickly as possible once a disaster has struck?
Download the new HSD Issue Brief with the button on the right.
As the NATO combat mission in Afghanistan draws to an end, the ‘West’ is starting to take a hard look back at two decades of global stabilization efforts. The ‘lessons learned’ literature on these efforts is exploding. One of the dominant themes in this literature is the need to embed the specifically military toolkit into a much more comprehensive, integrated approach towards planning and executing such operations.
In this forward-looking report, HCSS goes a step further by focusing not on the operational but on the strategic level of decision-making. Today, this strategic layer is driven much more by domestic and international ‘politicking’ than by creative strategic thinking. This report advocates a new approach to strategic decision-making which we label ‘strategic design’. It summarizes and borrows some key insights from the ‘design thinking’ literature in the business and public management literature and applies those to the security challenges surrounding stabilization efforts. The report then illustrates this approach by developing and evaluating a few ‘design sketches’ for new capability elements that even a small force provider like The Netherlands could start developing.
The report might be of interest to strategic planners and decision-makers on both the military and civilians side.
The report can be downloaded with the button on the right.
Providing analysis of what is happening in other countries remains an important task for our Ministries of Foreign Affairs. Much of this analysis currently continues to be done in the way in which it has been done for a very long time. Yet it is clear that the sources that can be used for this type of analysis are changing extremely rapidly. The same holds for the tools that can be used to analyze those sources.
In an ever more interdependent world, foreign policy affects the security and prosperity of every single individual in ever more fundamental and far-reaching ways. It therefore stands to reason that this area deserves and requires an applied analytical effort that is commensurate with the one we now afford ourselves in the key domestic policy areas. This would mean endowing our foreign policy decision-makers with a similarly thorough evidence- and knowledge-base from which they could start designing more evidence-based foreign policies. But is this even possible? Are such datasets available in the field of foreign policy? Can new data- and text-mining tools be applied to them? And what would the results from such an effort look like?
As a ‘proof-of-concept’, this project represents an attempt to explore the usefulness of these new data sources and data analysis tools. HCSS set out to construct a new database consisting of all retrievable text-based webpages from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of seven important countries. The international HCSS team developed and combined a number of tools in order to download and textmine these websites, and to then present and visualize the results. We then proceeded with our preliminary analysis of the data. We pursued two different research tracks: one in which we let the websites speak for themselves (‘inside-out’), and another in which we asked the websites some targeted question (‘outside-in’). Both approaches yielded some fascinating results that would have been impossible to obtain in any other way.
Download the report with the button on the right.