The promise of participation and the agony of informalism: multi-stakeholder governance and global food security

Event details


Date & time

Friday 24 April 2015


RegNet Meeting Room, Level 3, Coombs Extension, Building #8, ANU
ANU Canberra


Mr Matt Canfield, PhD Scholar, New York University; Visiting PhD Scholar, CIGJ, RegNet


Emma Larking
+61 (0)2 6125 1513

Over the past two decades, transnational social movements have emerged in response to the liberalization of food and agricultural markets. As this social struggle intensifies, new multi-stakeholder initiatives have been developed from local municipalities to intergovernmental bodies in an effort to manage these growing disputes.

These new forms of governance employ participatory, consensus-based practices in an effort to elicit self-regulation through the construction of voluntary norms. Yet how does this new form of governance transform the form, exercise and distribution of global power?

Drawing on two years of ethnographic research in the FAO’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS)—an intergovernmental body that has recently adopted a multi-stakeholder format—this presentation examines multi-stakeholder governance as an “informal legal order” in which stakeholders symbolically mobilize competing visions of social and economic organization. By tracing the practices and ideology of this informal arena, it examines the Janus-faced nature of this legal transformation.   

Matthew Canfield is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology, New York University (NYU). Matt is also currently a Visiting PhD Scholar at the Center for International Governance and Justice, Regulatory Institutions Network (RegNet).He received an MA from the Institute for Law and Society at NYU and a BA in Anthropology and International Studies from Johns Hopkins University.

Matthew also works closely with food sovereignty movements. In October 2014 he served as the coordinator for the Africa-US Food Sovereignty Strategy Summit in Seattle, Washington and currently serves on the coordination team of North American participants in the Committee on World Food Security’s Civil Society Mechanism. 

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet