From Fome Zero to Nutrition for Growth: a comparative study of policy responses to food and nutrition security issues in Brazil and the UK

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: International Development Institute


This study offers a comparative analysis of the UK and Brazil's policy responses to food and nutrition security (FNS) issues since 2003. In 2013, Brazil and the UK signed the Global Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Compact, a voluntary agreement signalling commitment to strengthening international cooperation to tackle FNS challenges through private public-sector partnerships, considered vital for meeting the SDGs. The N4G process is a useful convergence point to analyse how the private sector, international organisations and civil society (CS) lobbied Brazil and UK state elites to modify their commitment to FNS policies. My work will also look at how these domestic policy agendas influenced one another through policy transfer and translation. My research speaks to the broader question of how to translate FNS governance agendas into improved outcomes at domestic and global levels.
Research questions:
1. What are the similarities and differences in the ways state and non-state actors shape FNS policy agendas in the UK and Brazil?
2. How does the N4G endorsement reflect domestic/global nutrition governance agendas?
3. How do these formal/informal two-level games shape FNS outcomes worldwide?
Theoretical background: The study of FNS policies offers a unique opportunity to bridge different disciplinary approaches to policymaking at domestic/global levels. Much has been done to document the political economy (PE) of Brazil's considerable progress in tackling hunger and malnutrition through social policy. Recent nutrition governance studies highlight the role of political elites, CS and the private sector in shaping FNS outcomes, principally in the 'Global South'. However, less research exists on this in the UK, a vital gap given the rising prevalence of domestic FNS issues. Secondly, the literature has sought to understand the PE factors shaping growing global FNS cooperation, and the growth of multistakeholder partnerships between traditional donor countries like the UK working with 'non-traditional development partners' to tackle specific policy issues. This trend is key in understanding the PE of changing UK-Brazil FNS cooperation, and I will explore the ways in which state and private sector interests collude/collide in FNS policy, resulting in gains/losses in advancing/blocking progress domestically/internationally.
From 2010, the UK's global leadership in FNS cooperation diverged considerably from its domestic FNS policy responses. Government welfare reforms since 2010 have had far-reaching impacts, increasing and compounding the poverty and inequality caused by the 2007-8 crisis. In 2014, UN data estimated 8.4M people lived in food insecure households. It was at this time that the UK hosted the 2012 Hunger and 2013 N4G summits, highlighting the contradiction between national/international policy responses, with simultaneous points of divergence and convergence in FNS policy responses. At the same time, Brazil's signing of N4G signalled a divergence from domestic FNS policy. Until N4G, Brazil's social ministries and CS implementing FNS policy refused to engage formally with global multistakeholder nutrition initiatives, seeing them as vehicles for unaccountable private sector interests. Brazil's N4G leadership role was thus seen as a break in the political compact between the Workers' Party and CS movements which brought them to power. Understanding this break will shed light on the competition/collaboration between domestic FNS actors, revealing the different interests represented in FNS policy spaces. Finally, I want to explain how these two-level games help understand FNS outcomes internationally by exploring the political context and the dynamic relationships between national/international political configurations and policy interventions. This research has ramifications for 1) UK-Brazil FNS cooperation, 2) the formal inclusion of private sector/CS actors in policymaking processes and 3) global FNS policy and governance.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000703/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2027
1916654 Studentship ES/P000703/1 30/09/2017 06/12/2023 Jennifer Claire Constantine