Focal Points to the Coordination Committe of the Civil Society Mechanism

CSO: Civil Society Organisation
CFS: UN Committee on World Food Security
CSM: Civil Society Mechanism
CC: Coordination Committee of the Civil Society Mechanism (CSM)
The mandate of the second day of the CSO consultation was of great importance if not remarkably optimistic. When the chair welcomed the delegates and observers and outlined the agenda for the day, she clarified that the focus would be the discussion and development of processes at the sub-regional level to elect members (focal points) to the Coordination Committee (CC). The Chair reminded everyone that the Coordination Committee’s role is to work hard to facilitate the participation of those in sub-regions and constituencies and it is in no way to be seen as a  representative role whereby the focal point only reflects the views of their organization.
To ensure that all participants were on the same page, the plenary reviewed the Terms of Reference for the Coordination Committee.
Here are the key points:
The autonomous mechanism established by civil society to facilitate the participation of CSOs in the work of the CFS, including input to negotiation and decision-making, that was accepted by delegates on the first day of the civil society consultation (see post from Day 1) is made up of a Coordination Committee (CC) that is to be comprised of 40 members (focal points) from 11 constituencies and 16 sub-regions (explained below).  Priority is given to small-scale farmers as they represent 80% of the hungry people in the world and produce the largest proportion of the food in the world. Gender and geographic balance among the focal points in the CSM Coordination Committee will be ensured and 50% of the focal points of the Coordination Committee are to be women.
Each focal point will hold the function for 12 months during the interim period of 2010-2011 after which new members will be selected for a period of 2 years thereafter.

(Total of 16)
(Total of 24)
1 focal point from each of the 16 sub-regions 2 focal points from each, with the exception of 4 focal points from Smallholder family famer organizations
North America Smallholder family farmers
Central America and Caribbean Artisanal fisherfolk
Andean Region Herders/pastoralists
Southern Cone Landless
Western Europe Urban poor
Eastern Europe Agricultural and food workers
West Asia Women
South Asia Youth
South East Asia Indigenous Peoples
Central Asia Consumers
Oceania and Pacific NGOs
Southern Africa
West Africa
East Africa
Central Africa
North Africa

So what happened?
First and foremost, the mechanisms by which each sub-region and constituency selects their focal points to the Coordination Committee is to determined by each group in recognition of the diversity of histories, realities and experiences of each group.  So the work for delegates today was to make a plan so that this selection process could happen by the end of the year.
And the work?
The first breakout work session was organized by sub-region. Some regions opted to join together (e.g., a Latin America regional group was formed as was an African group. There was a joint South and South East Asia group. Europe and North America also formed a group).
The sub-regions themselves opted for these groupings as number are low but also as in many cases they have been working together at a regional level and their situations are comparable.  At this first session the groups were assigned a list of questions outlining the context, key actors to be involved, strengths, weaknesses and barriers and available resources.  The then developed processes for the selection of the Focal Point (each region is able to forward one nominee).
A very interesting proposal was raised that each region and constituency create a committee that rotates members every two years. This provides the benefit of support, training and knowledge transfer to members on the committee while working to ensure better diversity and sharing of power.
After the sub-regional working groups, the constituencies met and worked on the same task with the same questions. The constituencies are able to forward to Focal Points (members) to the Coordination Committee, with the exception of small-holder family farmers who forward 4 Focal Points.  It is important to remember that the 4 CSO representatives to the CFS Advisory Board will be from this Coordination Committee.
The goal was not to elect focal points, although some groups did. Rather the aim was to establish a clear, transparent and open process with people identified to move the process forward. This was important as many individuals and delegates were missing due to inabilities to get visas or tickets on time.
The Civil Society Mechanism (that is, the collective of engaged civil society actors) is governed by the Coordination Committee.  The roles of the Coordination Committee as outlined in the terms of reference are:
–          Ensuring that the functions of the CSM are carried out as effectively as possible and according to the organizing principles contained in the CSM proposal.
–          Facilitation of participation of CSOs in the CFS, including overseeing the work of civil society members of the CFS Advisory Group and the Secretariat of the Mechanism, as well as ensuring accountability of finances of the Mechanism.
–          Ensuring, to the best of their ability, effective two-way communication with CSM members and supporting efforts to participate effectively in policy dialogue at all levels.
–          Decision making with respect to the functioning of the Mechanism, including: criteria for participation in the Mechanisms, quotas for participation (including speaking) at the CFS Plenary, selection of civil society members of the Advisory Group, providing support to the CSO Advisory Group members, and assisting in the organization of the civil society forums related to the CFS.
–          Dialoguing with the CFS Bureau regarding the allocation of civil society seats/Speaking slots in the annual CFS plenary sessions with an understanding that membership in the Coordination Committee does not guarantee participation in the annual CFS plenary sessions.
–          Will seek to communicate the rage of divergent positions help by participants in the Mechanism when providing views to the CFS and at the Advisory Group.


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