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Civil society and Indigenous Peoples’ organizations demand a globally- coordinated policy response to tackle food crisis

Only if the crises are understood in a comprehensive and systemic way, can they be overcome. A profound, human rights-based and human rights-compliant transformation of the global food system and economic model is urgently needed.

The dominant economic and food systems along with conflicts and wars are causing multiple crises evidenced by continuing, multi-layered food crises, catastrophic climate change, public health emergencies, and ever-rising levels of poverty and inequality, says a report launched today by the largest autonomous international space of civil society organisations and Indigenous Peoples working to eradicate food insecurity and malnutrition.

Entitled Voices from the ground 2: transformative solutions to the global systemic food crises, the report synthesises the rich analysis and recommendations that emerged from a global popular consultation led by the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSIPM) in 2022 on the grassroots impacts of COVID-19, conflicts, and crises on the right to food and food sovereignty. The consultation, which took place by means of an online questionnaire and 20 hours of video conferencing sessions, garnered 539 contributions from 63 countries across the globe, in Thai, Arabic, Urdu, Filipino, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish, French and English.

"Contrary to what many policy makers believe, the recurring mess of intersecting crises that the world has been subjected to cannot be addressed through so-called ‘free trade’, global supply chains and increasing productivity through industrial agriculture," said Shalmali Guttal, Focus on the Global South, CSIPM Global Food Governance Working Group member and co-author of the report.

"We urgently need a paradigm shift where corporations are not allowed to dominate economic governance, and where policy making and crisis responses are driven by the actual needs and experiences of people, and where human rights and respect for nature are prioritised over profit making."

The main message that emerged from the consultations is that food sovereignty based on agroecology provides the most sustainable solution to these crises. It guarantees the right to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and the rights of people to define their own food and agriculture systems.

“Affected by structural inequalities introduced from the time of colonisation and reinforced by neoliberal policies, African countries suffer today from food import dependency and unsustainable levels of debt which, tied to the complex conditionalities of debt agreements, gravely affect the governments’ abilities to put effective social protection and people-centred development measures in place,” said Sefu Sanni, World March of Women, CSIPM Youth Working Group coordinator.

“Africa is a prime victim of existing global inequalities: a subordinated economic power on the world scene, with limited voice in political decision-making directly affecting the continent and its nations and extremely uneven distribution of costs and benefits arising from exploitation of its natural resources.”

The report is published ahead of the 50th Plenary Session of the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS), where governments will discuss public policies that can effectively transform global food systems. The CFS is the only existing inclusive multilateral forum in which the different dimensions of the global food crisis can be put together in a human rights framework.

According to the report, the CFS should provide guidance for governments on how to tackle the food crisis at country levels, guidelines for how funding should be directed and what international policy issues need to be addressed. The CFS could also establish a monitoring mechanism including voices from the ground and with the support of the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) that can foresee and help to prevent future crises.

The report was prepared by the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSIPM) for relations with the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and includes voices of small- scale food producers, Indigenous Peoples, workers, landless peoples, urban food insecure, consumers, women and youth.

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