How effective is the renewed Committee on World Food Security?

After the 2006-2008 food price crisis, we saw a swell of activity at that the global level as an attempt was made to address a food system that left1 billion people hungry. There has been an battle for leadership over the coordination of global food security policy, but the Committee on World Food Security remains the most transparent, inclusive and legitimate body for the job. Yet, while most will admit that the UN principle of one-country-one-vote (which the CFS maintains) remains the most democratic structure, it is also victim to inefficiencies and results in slow processes which often results in ineffective policies and programmes.  Some of these concerns have been addressed through the reform of the CFS.

With the 37th Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) coming up in a week, I thought it could be useful to review the implementation of decisions by the CFS in its 36th session. Part of the reform of the CFS was to enhance inter-sessional activities.

In advance of the 37th Session, the CFS has released a document that provides an update on the implementation of decisions taken by the 36th Session of the CFS (available here). It provides insight into how effective the CFS has been in forwarding its own agenda and it appears to be chugging along.

  • At the 36th Session there was a decision to have a roundtable to review methods used to estimate the number of hungry. The round table was help in September and the findings are to be presented at the 37th Session.
  • The Standing Committee on Nutrition has to be included in the Advisory Group and was an active member over the 36th Session.
  • The CFS decided to invite submissions of progress reports on initiatives linked to global developments relevant to food security and nutrition. At the 37th Session, there will be an update on global and regional initiatives and linkages with the CFS.
  • The CFS made a decision to strengthen and maintain linkages with regional initiatives in the intersessional period. Towards this end, the CFS chair participated in the FAO Regional Conferences throughout 2010 and supported CFS side events to discuss possible linkages and strengthen regional multi-stakeholder mechanisms. The CFS Secretariat is working on developing a more comprehensive approach to CFS outreach at the regional level.
  • There was a decision to explore the possibility of organizing a High-Level Expert Forum on Protracted Crises with a view of discussion the elaboration of a new Agenda for Action for Food Security in Countries in Protracted Crises in collaboration with other specialized agencies and humanitarian partners.  The preparatory work began in 2011, including a review of existing programmes and initiatives and to determine the value of such an event. A concept note has been prepared and submitted to the CFS Bureau and Advisory Group for consideration at the 37th Session (Item VI, Global Coordination and Support for National Processes).
  • It was decided that an addendum to the SOFI report be published with a revision to table 3 to include all countries and territories in protracted crisis and that the list be expanded to include Palestinian Territories, West Bank and Gaza Strip. An addendum was published on the SOFI website.
  • The continuation of the process for developing the Voluntary Guidelines building on existing regional processes with a view of submitting the guidelines for consideration at the 37th Session. The Guidelines are currently being negotiated and will be presented to the 37th Session for approval.
  • It was decided that the CFS should also start an inclusive process of consideration of the Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment that Respect Rights, Livelihoods and Resources (RAI) within the CFS. Towards this end, an open-ended working group was established, chaired by the Bureau Vice Chair, who liaised with all major interested parties with a view to propose a consultation process within the CFS to prepare principles for responsible agricultural investment. Agenda Item V for policy Round Table A “How to increase food security and smallholder-sensitive investment in agriculture” will consider RAI.
  • The High Level Panel of Experts were requested to undertake three studies to be presented at the 37th Session: respective roles of large-scale plantations and of small-scale farming; review of the existing tools allowing the mapping of available land; comparative analysis of tools to align large scale investment with country food security strategies. The HLPR has completed a report on land tenure and international investment in agriculture.  Released in July 2911, the report will be considered under Agenda Item V at the 37th Session.
  • The HLPE was also requester to undertake studies on: price volatility; social protection; and, climate change. They finalized their report on food price volatility and released it to the Bureau in July 2011 for consideration as an input on the policy roundtable.  The two other reports will be prepared for the 38th Session.
  • It was decided that to support the development of a Global Strategic Framework there would be a consultative and inclusive process with the aim to develop the first version of the GSF for October 2012. An Open Ended Working Group was established in December 2010 to advance work on the GSF. AN annotated outline was discussed and an e-consultation was launched, the outcomes of which will be discussed under Agenda Item VI with a proposal for the preparation of a GSF to be submitted to the 38th CFS for endorsement.
  • With respect to Mapping Food Security Actions at the Country Level, there was a request that the Secretariat continue to facilitate the development and implantation plan contained within the CFS 2010/3 Mapping Food Security Actions at Country Level as one of the core activities of the CFS 2010/11 work programme.  It was also recommended that 4-6 governments present the results of the mapping at CFS 37. The first study was carried out of existing tools and methods. This was followed by a Technical Consultative Workshop (May 2011). The resulting report will be presented at the CFS 37 Agenda Item V1, Global Coordination and Support for National Processes which will include specific country case studies.
  • In terms of implementing the CFS Reform, a Bureau Working Group was to continue to review and revise the CFS Rules of Procedure. The review will be presented under Agenda Item VII Implementation of the CFS Reform.
  • The proposed 2012-2013 Programme of Work and Budget, it was to be reviewed by the Bureau and submitted for the consideration of FAO, IFAD and WFP in accordance with their respective financial rules and regulations.  A Bureau-led Working Group reviewed the programme and it was approved by the Bureau in May 2011.
  • The CFS was to develop a results-based framework consistent with the organizational priorities of the Rome Based Agencies in the shape of a Multi-year Programme of Work. The same Working Group that reviewed the Programme of Work and Budget drafted the Results-Based Framework which will be presented at the CFS 37th Session under Agenda Iten VII The Implementation of the CFS Reform.

Things that were not accomplished:

  • At the 36th Session, the Chair proposed that for the CFS, countries could present their current and planned activities for development of partnerships in the area of food security and nutrition. There was no space on the agenda for this year but this decision will be considered for the planning of the 38th Session.
  • The CFS requested the Secretariat to elaborate on a document for the 37th Session that would include a consolidation and analysis of lessons learnt and suggestions with respect to further case studies. There was no common format for the country case studies presented at the 36th session and that made it difficult to analyse. It was noted that in future sessions, attention will be paid to ensure a common format for such agenda items to support analysis.

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