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Platform Knowledge Piece I – Policy coherence for agriculture and rural development

Policy coherence for development (PCD) is about making sure that policies for development do not contradict or undermine one another, and that as far as possible policies be complementary and create synergies. In practice it is about reconciling the multiple concerns of diverse stakeholders.

Policy coherence matters because policy-making , especially for agriculture in developing countries, is not straightforward. Public policy has multiple objectives and there are many instruments to achieve them, acting through human and natural systems that are imperfectly understood. It is almost inevitable in such circumstances that there will be trade-offs, contradictions and inconsistencies.

This applies all the more so when providing assistance from OECD countries to developing countries when there are two sets of domestic policies to consider. The case of agricultural and rural development also increases complexity, since uncertainties about natural and human systems in rural areas of developing countries are, by and large, greater than those seen in industrialised countries. 

The key questions that the study will answer are:

  • Which issues do agricultural and rural development policies in developing countries address? What objectives are set? Are there notable gaps or inconsistencies in policies for ARD in developing countries?
  • What structures and processes are in place in developing countries and used to ensure coherence? What is known about their effectiveness?
  • What has been the experience of donor agency processes for improved coherence?
  • How are different interests reconciled in policy-making?

The following activities are proposed to answer to answer these questions:

  • Review of existing sources and literature, including that on the political economy of agricultural decision-making.
  • Interviews with officials of the members of the Platform who deal with agricultural and rural development portfolios, at their headquarters;
  • Studies in developing countries, carried out by local research partners, that will look at foru cases of agricultural and rural development policy, and examine the issues of coherence that arise in these cases;
  • Reviews of how two major global initiatives, the food and nutrition security  efforts that come to prominence since 2008 and climate change adaptation and mitigation, have been incorporated into policy for agricultural and rural development; and,
  • Civil society perceptions, since civil society has been prominent in generating awareness of issues of policy coherence.


John Howell, Lidia Cabral, Henri Leturque, Julia Compton, Alban Mas Aparisi, Jim Sumberg

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