CFS in Rome: The majority of governments remain blind to the challenges of global food security

La Via Campesina Press Release (Rome October 15th, 2014)

The delegation of La Via Campesina, gathered in Rome for the 41st session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), recognizes the CFS as the major international forum for debate and decision making on agricultural and food issues. LVC urges governments to take urgent action in favor of peasant and indigenous agriculture, which is the only model capable of feeding the world. On the occasion of World Food Day, we restate our commitment to struggle for Food Sovereignty as a solution to the multiple crises affecting our societies. We reaffirm our commitment to the recognition and enforcement of peasant rights.

The celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Guidelines on the Right to Food has shown a huge gap between rights and their priority, respect, and application in reality. In this sense, LVC expressed deep disappointment with the lack of commitment to the application of the Guidelines.

Kannayian Subramaniam, a farmer from the state of Tamil Nadu in India denounced the attacks in the WTO to the food reserves created in India: “Public stock holding is vital to the food and nutrition security of any country. It is one of the main weapons that we have against food price volatility. Any trade measure that comes in the way of countries assisting the poorest and most marginalised people is unacceptable to us. The principle of coherence of human rights overrides any trade negotiation or agreement that comes in the way of food security of our constituent groups.”[1] LVC confirms that it is essential to discuss market rules within the CFS.

The adoption of Principles for responsible investment in agriculture (rai) is not sufficient to guarantee the rights of peasant communities, landless people and agricultural workers. It is positive that the primary role of peasants in investment in agriculture is recognized prior to the recognition of the role of the corporate sector. However, the rai do not give clear and strong guidance in the interest of the small-scale producers.
The guidelines do not contain sufficient safeguards to stop land grabbing and other destructive actions by private capital and complicit governments. No real progress in promoting the creation of decent work, workers rights, and in the fight against discrimination of women was made.

As mentioned by Javier Sanchez, a peasant farmer from Aragón: “We need public policies in favor of food sovereignty, promoting agroecology, local markets, the empowerment of women, access to the profession for young people and access to and control over land, forests, water and seeds. “

La Via Campesina expresses the need for the CFS to take a greater role in the design of agricultural and international food policies. We recognize the progress made since its reform and are committed to further promote policies that address the needs of the most excluded populations. LVC urges the CFS to launch processes to develop policies that support stable markets and agroecological agriculture, which are respectful of human and peasant rights. These policies must also contribute to stop climate change, ensure access to resources such as seeds and water and put the public interest before private interests.

LVC press contacts in Rome:
Annelies Schorpion (EN, ES, FR, NL):, +39 3511556740
Ivan Mammana (EN, ES, FR, IT):, +39

[1]    See the video of Kannayian Subramaniams speech

Oxfam response to UN Committee on World Food Security Endorsement of Principles


The UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS), the central and most inclusive institution of the global governance on food and agriculture issues, today endorsed the Principles on Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems after a two year open, transparent and participatory process by a wide range of stakeholders. Civil society, including Oxfam, participated throughout the process. But the final adoption of the Principles remains the sole responsibility of the CFS Member States.

Oxfam spokesperson Thierry Kesteloot said:

“The member governments of the CFS have failed here to promote responsible investment in global agriculture. These new principles are too weak, vague and in a number of areas are actually worse than the standards that already exist. Unscrupulous investors could find ways to use the principles to cover irresponsible deals.

“Oxfam regrets that the Principles fail to meet the ambition. They won’t work to promote global food security. We will keep campaigning to ensure they are not used to weaken human rights. We will continue to pressure investors and governments to account for their impacts on human rights, food and nutritional security, as well as on our environment. However we do believe that these Principles will not help us much in those efforts,” Mr. Kesteloot added.

Oxfam says the new Principles allow human rights to be subordinated to trade interests. They will allow investors to pick and choose the elements they prefer to implement or to ignore. They fail to provide clear guidance on how investors should avoid land-grabs.

“Governments refused to apply Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) for all affected communities and that omission is frankly deplorable. It should be clear that all investors have clear legal obligations to protect human rights and to avoid environmental damage and land-grabs” concluded Mr. Kesteloot.


Together with a colleague  I am organising a section at the ECPR general conference, Montreal 2015 (

We welcome panel and paper proposals (until 10 November  2014) that are based on the section description below.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me:

Cross-Disciplinary Issues for Food Policy and Governance: Challenges and Opportunities

Food has proven to be a complex, even wicked, policy issue which encompasses multiple policy domains. The call for a more integrated food policy away from mono-disciplinary focus on agricultural, international development, or health is  increasing. Food policy integrates nutrition and public health, agriculture, environment, ethics and social justice, trade, ecology, spatial planning, climate change, water management, and energy and therefore needs the analysis of all policy domains involved, as well as cross-policy domain research. The interconnectedness of  relevant policy domains means that food represents a policy challenge as well as a governance challenge at all levels (i.e., local, national, international, multinational). As such, it requires not only the setup of cross-boundary governance arrangements between traditional institutions and administrative competences, but also the analysis of possible gaps between institutions, deadlocks, miscommunication and/or lack of coordination.

Food policy and governance issues cross different levels and scales: from global discussion about food security, to local water management issues; from acute problems to looming catastrophes  in the distant future. All these interconnected linkages and cross-overs pose many challenges to state actors, civil society, and the private sector.  In this section we will to explore the variety of issues that arise when working towards integrated food policies.

We welcome panel and paper proposals that analyse cross-policy and governance issues in the field of food and agriculture. We are looking for proposals that address participatory governance for food security, integrated systems approaches for food governance, local governance arrangements for sustainable food systems, or food governance in a changing geopolitical context.

Suggested panels:

Panel 1: Participatory governance and food policy
Panel 2: Governing at the Nexus
Panel 3: Integrated Systems Approaches for Food Governance/ Global Environmental Change and Food Systems
Panel 4: Future Challenges for Food Governance
Panel 5: Local governance arrangements for sustainable food systems
Panel 6: Food Governance in a Changing Geopolitical Context

Mapping the state of play on the global food landscape

I spent the last two days in Waterloo, Ontario at an incredible workshop called “Mapping the state of play on the global food landscape”.  It brought together academic and civil society experts on ten key themes:

  • State of the world food system
  • Progress on the right to food
  • Global food trade
  • Corporate role in food and agriculture
  • Food sovereignty
  • Genetic resources and agricultural biotechnology
  • Land grab and agrarian reform
  • Financialization in the food system
  • Sustainable food systems and global environmental change
  • Global food governance in an era of crisis.

Still buzzing from the great conversations and debate. This was my dream conference. Amazing people, lots of discussion lasting from morning to night and great food.

There was also a lot of work! Each of us (3 per theme)  was asked to develop a brief and presentation that answers 3 questions on the past, present and future of our themes. I presented on the final theme an ended up not using the PowerPoint presentation I had developed. I figured it would be good to share. So, here is the presentation that never was:Towards ecological food security

There will be an output from the workshop and I will certainly share that when it becomes available.


Recognizing Indigenous and Community Land Rights: Priority Steps to Advance Development and Mitigate Climate Change.

Another new report, this time by Tebtebba:  Recognizing Indigenous and Community Land Rights: Priority Steps to Advance Development and Mitigate Climate Change.

This report demonstrates how recognizing community land rights is a cost-effective way to address a host of social, environmental, and development challenges.

Interestingly, despite the adoption of the Voluntary Guidelines for Responsible Governance of Tenure,

research shows that there has been a global “slowdown” in the legal recognition of community land rights since 2008. Between 2002 and 2007, approximately three times more pro-community legislation was passed than between 2008 and 2013, and the legislation passed in the second period was substantively weaker, with no cases of legislation recognizing rights of ownership.

New Report: Clever Name, Losing Game? How Climate Smart Agriculture is sowing confusion in the food movement

From ActionAid:

Climate Smart Agriculture’ is gaining increasing attention among governments, NGOs, academics, corporations and international policy spaces. As proponents attempt to use the climate negotiations at the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change) and the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit tomorrow to obtain official endorsement of the concept, a range of stakeholders are starting to take note and ask questions.

With the impacts of climate change being felt on food systems around the world, and the contribution of agriculture to global emissions also gaining attention, agriculture is one of the issues at the heart of climate change concerns. The concept of ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’ was developed by the FAO and the World Bank, claiming that ‘triple wins’ in agriculture could be achieved in mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions), adaptation (supporting crops to grow in changing climate conditions), and increasing crop yields. But there is growing confusion and debate over what the term really means, what it can achieve, what is new about it, and whether it really can benefit food systems in the face of climate change.
Increasingly, civil society and farmer organisations are expressing concerns that the term can be used to green-wash agricultural practices that will harm future food production, such as industrial agriculture practices or soil carbon offsetting. Ultimately, there are no means to ensure that ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’ is either smart for the climate, or for agriculture.

Action Aid has developed a brief to assist NGOs and policy makers to navigate the confusing language and false promises of Climate Smart Agriculture.

Monday Sept 22: ‘Eat it all Food Market’ Leeuwenborgh

Originally posted on Rural Sociology Group Wageningen University:

humble harvestNext Monday,  September 22nd, Humble Harvest will organise the ‘Eat It All Food Market’ in the Leeuwenborgh canteen! Super-local, organic, delicious foods which otherwise would have been wasted, will be sold at the market for very low prices.

The food comes directly from a farmer from the other side of the river Rhine and would have been thrown away because it does not conform to supermarkets’ standard for shape and size.

The market will be held from 12.00 to 1.30pm in the Leeuwenborch canteen. Bring some coins, your own bag and sustainable it is!!

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