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CFS 46th Session: The Future of Global Food Governance and the Legacy of the 2009´s Reform

The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) inaugurates today, its 46th session in a moment marked by the 10th anniversary of its latest reform and rising challenges to human rights.

Today the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) will open for its 46th session, and celebrating 10 years since the 2009 reform. This reform is an important moment that heralded a new era of food governance, led by the people most affected by hunger and malnutrition.  However, 10 years later, as global food insecurity increases, it forces us to rethink our strategies and the role of the CFS in the global food governance picture. Nevertheless, as human rights are increasingly challenged at all levels, it is clear that now more than ever the CFS must be defended.

We are far away from reaching the ambitious targets set in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end hunger by 2030—and even more so we are missing a real, honest discussion on this failure. If we do not identify the structural issues behind the human rights violations that contribute to food insecurity such as poverty and lack of living wage, discrimination, racism, eco-destruction and natural resources grabbing, as well as the problems resulting from the increasing role that corporate interests have in the public policy space, then we cannot identify real solutions.

A radical transformation of food systems is needed.  To transition towards making them sustainable, healthy and just, in line with the right to food and nutrition. Instead, corporations are offering “solutions” that do not address structural injustices, but rather maintain and increase their control over food systems. The discussions ongoing now in the CFS represent an opportunity to find policy solutions to critical issues that have deep impacts on the realization of the right to food and nutrition for many people and communities globally.

The CFS is developing Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition, which is a unique opportunity to fully embrace the solutions put forward by those persons who are on the front line in the struggle for the right to food and nutrition. This includes, as a priority, agroecology.

Agroecology, as practiced and put forward by small-scale food producers, can and will work to protect communities and the climate, while targeting the structural issues that perpetuate rising rates of food insecurity. However, these solutions cannot continue fall on deaf ears or be perceived as a threat to corporate interests, which have been increasingly taken as priority in many spaces across the UN.

Many States, UN agencies, and others blindly support multi-‘stakeholder’ initiatives-- which falsely place civil society and public interest on the same footing of the interests of corporate actors-- and other forms of collaboration with the corporate sector as a necessary means for addressing food insecurity and malnutrition. However, these initiatives, in fact, further increase and legitimize corporate influence in public policy making. This scenario undermines the human rights orientation of public policies and state accountability, and moves us ever further away from achieving the structural changes required for eliminating hunger. In fact, the HLPE report of the CFS on Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships indicates that the empirical evidence on positive impacts of these partnerships towards eradicating hunger is scarce.

This trajectory which enables greater corporate capture is not the way out of the “crisis” of food insecurity, democracy, and human rights that the world is facing. We need to have a serious discussion on real solutions, with participation of rights holders and those most affected by food insecurity. The CFS is the only space at international level to do this. 
It is possible to build policies informed by the perspectives and experiences of those most marginalized groups and communities. The CFS has had a critical role in supporting and progressing the normative framework that supports the right to food and of small-scale food producers, which can be seen clearly in, for example, the Tenure Guidelines, Framework for Action for Food Insecurity in Protracted Crises, and Connecting Smallholders to Markets.

However, implementation is poor. FAO’s commitment to spearhead implementation support of CFS policies is waning, as is their commitment to right to food. While at the same time this critical policy discourse is completely ignored by the ongoing discussions on the 2030 Agenda, which is concentrating resources and attention on policies, which fail to address human rights.

Monitoring and accountability remains critical to maintaining the legitimacy of the CFS and the decisions that it takes. We are progressively taking steps to further this process, but it remains fundamental to ensure that the policies emerging from this space are taken up by states, and that the CFS continues to create the space to have a critical dialogue on their use and implementation. However, it is also up to us, as civil society, to take full responsibility and ownership over the outcomes that emerge from the CFS. We do not have to wait for permission to advocate for the implementation of policies that ensure our human rights.

FIAN International will participate in the discussions and negotiations at the CFS and will report via @FIANista on Twitter.

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