First day of the Civil Society Consultation Meeting to the CFS

First day of the civil society consultation in advance of the 36th session of the UN Committee on World Food Security went pretty smoothly all things considered. Funding was very late to come through from governments and as a result many would-be delegates and observers were unable to obtain visas or find flights in time. However, those who were there seemed engaged in the process and optimistic while at the same time realistic that there are improvements to be made and instructive practices to be reflected upon.
The goal of the day’s plenary was to review the mechanism that was developed autonomously by civil society, as required by the reformed CFS. The mechanism, which worked through a relatively transparent and consultative process maintained momentum through important communication and coordination work by Oxfam, IPC on Food Sovereignty, and Action Aid, among others.
Various drafts and a review of the process are available in the CSO4CFS Document Library.
The Chair of the plenary presented the final draft of the mechanism (which was unfortunately available only in English due to limited funds) and encouraged the delegates to endorse the process (delegates had been selected through a process which, time permitting, I will try to outline in a future post). Many delegates stood and expressed their support for the Civil Society Mechanism as a positive first step and highlighted changes and considerations to consider over the next year.
Some key points about the CSM:
1)      Organizing principles that are laid out and that structure the mechanism: inclusiveness, transparency, openness.
2)      This mechanism is not about representation. That is, it is not about positions to represent an single organization’s point of view. The goal and purpose of the position is one of communication and reaching out. Those who are elected from the 11 constituencies and 16 sub-regions to form the 40 member committee will work on communication and discussion and will not be there as organizational talking heads.
Some limitations:

  • Inclusivity, accountability mechanisms still needs work.
  • There will be a need to continue reviewing constituencies and making sure no one is falling through the gaps.
  • Clarify the decision making processes in the mechanism (what is consensus?).
  • Ensure gender balance and definitions of gender are addressed through the mechanism.
  • What are the criteria for membership?
  • Ensure documents are translated in time (resources?)
  • Make sure this is work is continuing at the national and regional levels and that it is not restricted to what happens at the CFS in Rome.

It was generally felt that we need to build on this good start, keep moving forward so that in 1 year we are more organized and more inclusive and working together.
There is recognition that this is not a perfect document but a work in progress and an important step in the right direction. The document will undergo formal review in one year, at which point changes and improvements can be made.

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