The unspoken words


Wageningen University student, Jesse Opdam, has written a post about the importance of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) to address emerging issues.

microphone-and-handSometimes the words we leave unspoken are the most important ones, especially during policy negotiations where the political stakes are high. A lot of issues regarding food and nutrition have been addressed this week. It is simply impossible to address every single issue regarding food security within one week.

But what about sudden important (urgent) issues? Should the CFS not address them? This question was answered by Chair H.E. Amira Gornass with the following words: “I think CFS should be open to emerging issues”. And in my opinion, she is completely right. If the CFS does not address urgent issues on time, or before other food security platforms do, the CFS will lose its relevance.

But requests to add an item to the agenda in the middle of the week was not something that CFS members welcomed with applause. Making an agenda takes a lot of effort, and is completed months in advance to provide every member enough time to prepare. That is the reason multiple countries used their microphones to raise their concerns about a new agenda item proposed by the Civil Society Mechanism.

Pat Mooney, Executive Director of the ETC Group, spoke on behalf of the CSM. He addressed the upcoming merge of some of the largest agricultural companies and he stated: “these mergers are a threat to food security in many ways”.  All the negotiations about the recommendations were done beforehand, leading to some extra time on Thursday afternoon. Mr Mooney made use of that, and proposed a discussion about these mergers within that timeslot.

Although the members of the CFS acknowledged the importance of this issue, several of them objected because the rules of procedure were not followed and no information was provided beforehand. It was decided that the CSM could use the available time to have an informative event, outside the plenary. In the end the plenary session took longer than expected and the event did not take place. The CSM planned to host the event the next day, Friday afternoon, despite the fact that many people will be leaving.

Apart from the previously mentioned issue, it is crucial for the CFS to think about a way to engage with emerging problems in the future. Since the world is changing quickly, some issues might need a fast response. This was confirmed by one member state representative: “If there are issues that are coming, I think that in the future we should think about how we can accommodate that”.

I expect that in the near future the relevance of the CFS will only increase. Therefore it is crucial to stay relevant as a food security platform. Especially when your vision is to be the most inclusive international and intergovernmental platform. In that context it could be vital to develop a way to talk about future emerging issues, to avoid unspoken words.

 Photo credit: Public Domain


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