On the first day of the 39th Session, the Committee on World Food Security participated in two policy roundtables informed by the reports of the High Level Panel of Experts: Climate Change and Food Security; and, Social Protection and Food Security.
The roundtables were less dynamic than in other years (in my opinion, although others that I have spoken to disagree). There are around 30 ministers here this year and their statements to the plenary take away time from discussion but also changes the tone of the meeting. Tomorrow we still start to negotiate the decision boxes on these important issues.
The CFS also reviewed the 2012 State of Food Insecurity in the World which uses the new methodology for quantifying the number of hungry in the world. The FAO has recalculated figures back to 1990. By their new calculations, 870 million people were chronically undernourished from 2010-2012.
Yesterday was World Food Day and the Committee did not meet until the afternoon and when they did meet they were tasked with a rather full agenda that focused on “Policy Convergence and Coordination” which included three items: 1) Food Security and Nutrition Terminology; 2) Adoption of the First Version of the Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition; and 3) Addressing policy gaps and emerging issues.
The Committee addressed the first two items and failed to reach a conclusion or to approve the decision boxed.
Re: Terminology, a seemingly semantic debate that has important political implications related to discussion on moving towards the use of “food and nutrition security” instead of simply “food security” or “food security and nutrition” which is what the CFS currently uses.
There appears to be wide consensus amongst states, civil society and the private sector that the CFS should use the term “food and nutrition security” and that there should be an Open Ended Working Group to reach consensus on a definition on this term. However, Russia is refusing this.They argue that there needs to be more discussion and that the CFS should not provide legitimacy to “food and nutrition security” before there is adequate debate. While I support the same position as Russia, for reasons I will try to explain in another post, I am not sure why they are advancing this position. What is their objective? I hope to find out today. The Terminology issue has headed to a Friends of the Chair, chaired by Bangladesh.
The negotiations on the GSF went on past interpretation time and it is not yet clear when the Plenary will take up the issue again. The major tension remains Section 6: Issues that may require further attention — the former gaps section. In short: there is no consensus on the section about issues lacking international consensus.
Para 103(J) mentions that the CFS should address “definitions of food security including, but not limited to, food sovereignty”. This is the only item that does not have consensus in the GSF (although some are upset that case studies were included in the first version without consultation). Ecuador has demanded that point J remain in the document and other countries refuse any mention of food sovereignty. There was however a high-level of agreement that point J could be removed to ensure that the GSF does get passed at this CFS.
Proposals were made for how to improve the decision box, including a useful proposal from the EU to take the last sentence from the chapeau to IV: Policy, Programme and other Recommendations which states “Chapter VI lists a number of areas where there are recognised gaps in consensus in policy issues.” There was also a suggestion from the US to state in the decision box that consensus has only been reached on chapters I-V. However, the Africa Group, who is defending chapter VI reminded the Plenary that there is agreement on Chapters I-VI minus 103.j and that this needs to be reflected in the decision box.
This morning (day 3), there was a panel discussion on Global and Regional Coordination and Linkages with CFS. The panel was composed of representatives from the Africa Union, G8 (New Alliance), G20, AMIS, CGARD, Rio+20 and chaired by the Chair of the UN’s High Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis.
The discussion was disappointing, not least because the panel represented the initaitives that have come up and effectively usurped power and influence away from the CFS which remains the most legitimate and inclusive body for discussions on food security policy and to move towards policy coherence.
I was really hoping that the panel would address the linkages that we could expect to see between the CFS and their initiatives, and this, despite some good questions from the Chair, was not addressed. Naively, I thought there might be a review of the CFS mandate and responsibility and then an attempt to clearly articulate the relationship of the CFS to the other initiatives and organizations who have overlapping mandates, all in the name of food security and policy coherence.
Members of the Civil Society Mechanism called out the New Alliance for undermining initiatives already under-way in Africa.
Within the session, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food requested that the CFS organise a policy roundtable at CFS 41 to review the progressive realisation on the right to food and to assess the impact of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Right to Food in the National Context.
The fun never stops at the CFS.
I will keep you all posted! Especially any former negotiators out there… you are missed.