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By Jordan Treakle
This entry is part of a special series of blog posts about the UN’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS): The Future of the CFS? Collectively reflecting on the directions of UN’s most inclusive body. Read more about this project here. This is not an exclusive project. If you would like to participate, please let us know: foodsecuresolutions@gmail.com This week we take a diversion and focus on the outcomes of the International Seminar on Local Public Policies for Food Sovereignty that took place in mid-November in the Basque Country.  In this post Jordan Treakle identifies key themes to emerge out of the Seminar. We note that these themes relate to discussions taking place at the CFS and are thus relevant for this special series. Further, while focussing on global policies, there is a need to also address local-level policies.
treakle_donostia2 In mid-November over a hundred participants from across Europe, the Americas, and Asia convened at the International Seminar on Local Public Policies for Food Sovereignty in Donostia (San Sebastian), Spain to share experiences and perspectives on four inter-related topics linked to food sovereignty:
  • Land access and the commons
  • The role of education in public food policies
  • Linking urban and rural spaces through territorial development approaches
  • Local public policies to support agroecology
Donostia is known as a food capital of the country with its famous tapas culture, as well as having a fiercely independent regional political identity. In this delicious and inspiring socio-political environment one of the core issues of the Seminar was the recognition that “urban” food policies (such as the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact) and agendas (such as the role of urban policies in the Sustainable Development Goals) are gaining prominence in the international policy arena. And to illustrate this trend, much of the Seminar focused on presenting urban-centered food sovereignty initiatives in Spain, such as the work of Red TERRAE on supporting municipal agroecology platforms and Llaurant Barcelona on mapping and reorienting Barcelona’s tourist food economy toward food sovereignty. As pointed out by representatives of the NGO FIAN, the international policy turn to “urban” spaces is not only a response to an increasingly urbanized world, but also reflects certain urban-focused political agendas, and thus presents both opportunities and challenges for more holistic systems-based approaches to supporting social justice and environmental sustainability in agriculture and food systems. Drawing on the event’s presentations and participants’ discussions, below are some topics for thought and debate:
Just a quick post to share links to two calls for abstracts for very interesting international conferences. I have added links to the sessions that I will be co-chairing.
  • International Conference on Public Policy Singapore, June 28-30, 2017
T03P04 - Uncovering Politics in Public Policies for Agriculture and Food
  • European Consortium for Political Research Oslo, Norway, 6-9 September 2017
Section 69: The Politics of Food Governance
By Nadia Lambek and Jessica Duncan
This entry is part of a special series of blog posts about the UN’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS): The Future of the CFS? Collectively reflecting on the directions of UN’s most inclusive body. Read more about this project here. This is not an exclusive project. If you would like to participate, please let us know: foodsecuresolutions@gmail.com This week we continue with the cluster CFS, a rights-oriented body? In this post Nadia Lambek and Jessica Duncan reflect on potential implications for the CFS policy interventions revolve around the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and related goals, and not explicitly around rights.
ruben_mendoza_bicycle_kick   This year we noted with interest that many interventions at the CFS (from governments, but also the private sector) were made with reference to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in particular SDG 2. While it is hard for us to assess the relevance of this for CFS policy outcomes as these were negotiated before the main meeting, it is clear that links to the SDGs are being used to legitimise interventions within the CFS and to ground (at least publically) policy recommendations. What is noteworthy about this development is that SDGs are being referenced to not only ground interventions and policy recommendations, but also to highlight the importance of combating hunger. In many respects, this points to a degree of coherence and commitment within this international space. However, it also raises questions about what it means when interventions are linked to goals and not rights.   We are interested in understanding the potential ramifications of this trend and how might it impact CFS policy making. It is not clear yet - but we offer some initial reflections here.  We begin by comparing and contrasting the SDGs and the right to food as framing and policy tools.  We then examine two implications of the trend that give us cause for concern. Rights vs Goals While the SDGs and the right to food both seek to end hunger, they have different purposes. To understand these, it is important to first distinguish between rights and goals. A goal is a desired aim or ambition. The SDGs are said to represent a “universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity”. The SDGs are interconnected and provide guidelines and targets for all countries to adopt.  SDG 2 aims to “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture” by 2030. The SDGs are to be implemented through the “Global Partnership for Sustainable Development”, bringing together Governments, the private sector, civil society, the United Nations system and other actors and mobilizing all available resources (see paragraph 39). Human rights are inalienable rights that we have by virtue of being equal and having dignity.  The right to food is “is realized when every man, woman and child,alone or in community with others, have physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement.” Adequate food is not about a “minimum package of calories, proteins and other specific nutrients”, rather it is determined with reference to the “prevailing social, economic, cultural, climatic [and] ecological” of the concerned population. The right to food is recognized throughout international law, most notably in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 25) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) (Article 11). It places a series of obligations on states to respect, protect and fulfil the right to food.   A rights-based approach represents a longer-term and structural approach to addressing food insecurity and malnutrition that encourages states to pass legislation and national policies, to ensure recourse mechanisms are available to hold the state accountable, and to progressively realize the right to food (which ensures a continual and growing commitment to addressing the realization of the right to food). We note that the preamble of the SDGs does contain rights-based language, however this language is not translated into the goals themselves, where human rights, at least for SDG 2, are not mentioned.
By Nadia Lambek
This entry is part of a special series of blog posts about the UN’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS): The Future of the CFS? Collectively reflecting on the directions of UN’s most inclusive body. Read more about this project here. This week we inaugurate the thematic cluster CFS, a rights-oriented body? Nadia Lambek’s provocative entry discusses universality - a key principle of international human-rights body and other global processes, such as 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The North-South divide found at CFS representation carriers important implications for the effectiveness and legitimacy of the Committee, she argues. This is not an exclusive project. If you would like to participate, please let us know: foodsecuresolutions@gmail.com
At the opening session of the 43rd CFS, in a room crowded with representatives of ministries of agriculture, food and livestock, the United States representative to the CFS made her introduction.  The head of the US delegate was not from the US Department of Agriculture or from the Food and Drug Administration. She was the Director of the Peace Corps – a volunteer program run by the United States government, which sends volunteers (mostly recent university graduates) to the Global South to live and work in communities.   [caption id="attachment_2752" align="aligncenter" width="512"]512px-unemployed_men_queued_outside_a_depression_soup_kitchen_opened_in_chicago_by_al_capone_02-1931_-_nara_-_541927-2 Hunger is not a new problem in the USA[/caption]

By Unknown or not provided (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This made a stark impression on me. Why was the head of the US delegation from the Peace Corps?  In fact, not one of the US’s 23 person official delegation to the CFS had a mandate concerning domestic issues within the US. Certainly the US is no stranger to food insecurity within its own borders. According to the US Department of Agriculture, 12.7 percent of American households were food insecure at some point during 2015. Yet it didn’t bring any delegate knowledgeable about domestic food insecurity or with any mandate to address it. The US is not alone in this respect.  Looking at the official delegate list of people attending the CFS, one thing is clear: countries in the Global South send representatives from their ministries of agriculture, fisheries, livestock or food, while countries from the Global North tend to send representatives from foreign affairs or international development agencies. This divide tells us a lot about how countries view food security, the role of the CFS and their human rights obligation – but it also has a lot of implications for the CFS and its effectiveness, particularly as a body with a human rights mandate.  I highlight some of these concerns below:
By Jessica Duncan and Matheus Zanella
This entry is part of a special series of blog posts about the UN’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS): The Future of the CFS? Collectively reflecting on the directions of UN’s most inclusive body.   Every week, until early 2017, a group of academics and practitioners will be sharing their reflections on the critical directions and emerging issues at stake in this innovative intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder forum. Contributors include Matheus Zanella, Jessica Duncan, Josh Brem-Wilson, Nora McKeon, Nadia Lambek, Carolin Anthes, Pierre-Marie Audrey, Katie Whiddon, Thomas Patriota, Alison Blay-Palmer, Allison Marie Loconto, Martin Herren, and others. This is not an exclusive project. If you would like to participate, please let us know: foodsecuresolutions@gmail.com
stakeholder Last year we wrote a reflection about the UN’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS) wherein we proclaimed that the CFS was at crossroads. That was right after CFS’s annual plenary in October - its 42nd Plenary. At that time we identified a number of potential challenges that this Committee was facing to keep the spirit of its 2009 Reform alive. In particular, we pointed out three main issues. First, that the initial ambition brought by the reform of the Committee and the engagement of non-state actors seemed to be fading away. Second, that we observed a lack of coherence amongst member states and participants regarding the future directions of the CFS. And third, that the multi-stakeholder format of the reformed CFS was being put into question, notably by not paying sufficiently attention to power dynamics and a failure to frame negotiations with a rights-based approach. Last week the CFS met for its 43rd Plenary. By the end of the week we felt that many of our concerns and predictions had been re-enforced or confirmed. We also felt that it would be interesting to re-engage in this debate. This time we also thought that it would be valuable to include more people in a thinking and sharing exercise. Indeed, after a week of intense interactions with academics, food producers, civil society actors, country delegates and private sector actors, we realised just how many people are working on questions like these! Besides, many issues such as those we raised above continue to need attention, while others were not addressed or even have just recently emerged. Thus, over the next few weeks, researchers will be sharing their reflections, insights, analysis, concerns and hopes for the CFS.  Our hope is to raise awareness of key issues, strengthen collaboration, and facilitate a different way, hopefully a more accessible way, of communicating our ideas.