IFOAM at the United Nations Committee for World Food Security Meeting

IFOAM delegation: 

Andre Leu - IFOAM vice-president and INOFO focal point for Australasia region

Cristina Grandi - IFOAM Liaison Officer to FAO and IFAD.

IFOAM Intervention during the GFS Plenary Session of CFS 36

The Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition (GSF) document is the strategic plan on the priorities and actions that will be undertaken by the CFS and the key overview document it is therefore critical that Organic Agriculture is included.

Video of IFOAM Vice President making the intervention

Read the transcript of the IFOAM CFS 36  intervention

IFOAM Intervention on behalf of the CSOs during the Roundtable on Protracted Food Crises at CFS 36

The intervention related to importance on the respect of the rights of people affected by protracted food crises and that they should be put at the centre of policies, involved in decision making to ensure their sovereignty over resources and livelihood and actively involved in defining the solutions.

Video of Estrella Peninua, Asian Farmers Association Secretary General 

Read the transcript of the roundtable intervention on behalf of civil society

Summary of outcomes of CFS 36

The Committee:

agreed to develop the first version of the Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition (GSF) [Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition] by October 2012, which will be subject to regular updates reflecting the outcomes and recommendations of the CFS.

Encouraged the continuation of the inclusive process for the development of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land and Other Natural Resources with a view to submitting the guidelines for the consideration at CFS 37.

Decided to start an inclusive process of consideration of the Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investments that Respect Rights, Livelihoods and Resource.

Requested its high-level panel of experts to study / review:

The respective roles of large-scale plantations and of small-scale farming including economic, social, gender and environmental impacts

Existing tools allowing the mapping of available land;

Comparative analysis of tools to align large scale investments with country food security strategies;

Price volatility: causes and consequences (by CFS 37);

Social protection: vulnerability reduction, the impact of existing policies, special focus on small scale rural producers, urban and rural poor, women and children, local production and livelihoods and promoting better nutrition (by CFS 37), and

Climate change: existing assessments and initiatives, most affected and vulnerable regions and populations, interface between climate change and agricultural productivity, including the challenges and opportunities of adaptation and mitigation policies (by CFS 37).

IFOAM Key Messages / Objectives

In the last decades, most international efforts have focused on distributing food to vulnerable populations; with very little support dedicated to strengthening the ability of smallholder farming to adequately feed their local communities. IFOAM has always criticized this policy, and asked for international aid to support rural development, in particular, adopting organic agriculture as an efficient tool for food security. IFOAM strongly advocates for agricultural development that puts the needs of local people before commodities for international markets.

Despite smallholder agriculture now taking center stage in international food security policy discussions, there is a strong push within the CFS for promoting chemical agriculture and GMO’s as the solution for smallholders despite the high suitability and affordability of organic agriculture for smallholders. This is despite growing high-level recognition of the benefits of ecological based agriculture and organic in particular as a solution to the MDG 1: Extreme Poverty & Hunger:


IAASTD (the World Agriculture Report)

UN rapporteur on the Right to Food

Background & significance of the CFS meeting:

The issue of food security is a major UN priority given that the eradication of extreme poverty & hunger is the No.1 Millennium Development Goal (MDG). In the time since the MDGs were instigated instead of halving the number of undernourished people as stated, the number has increased to 1 billion.

The Committee for World Food Security (CFS) is a governing body of the FAO and is the United Nations’ forum for policies concerning world food security. It makes the recommendations on how Rome UN agencies (FAO, IFAD, and WFP) and national governments allocate policies, programs and funding in farming and food systems.

This meeting is particularly significant as it is the first since major reforms to the CFS have begun. Following a year of negotiations among governments, CSOs and UN bodies the CFS has been redesigned to act as an authoritative global policy forum deliberating on food policy issues. The Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) and the High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) are central pillars of the reformed CFS that will feature for the first time at CFS 36. Important items to be discussed/agreed at CFS 36 include:

  • Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition (GSF).
  • Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land and Other Natural Resources (VG).
  • Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investments that Respect Rights, Livelihoods and Resource.

Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition (GSF)

According to the agreements, the reformed CFS, as the foremost body of global food security governance, should have the authority to formulate and approve a Global Strategic Framework for Food  Security and Nutrition (GSF). Governments would commit themselves to translating this framework into national action plans with the participation of all stakeholders and would be held accountable for the results. it is anticipated that the GSF will increase the effectiveness and impact of a more inclusive and participatory CFS.

The concept note on the GSF presented at CFS36 stated that developing the framework it is useful to emphasize that the GSF must:

  • Take into account existing frameworks such as the UN’s Comprehensive Framework for Action (CFA), the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security.
  • Take into account the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), Scaling Up Nutrition and other relevant documents.
  • Take into account the Five Rome Principles for Sustainable Food Security, and the definition of food security be developed through a comprehensive, participatory and transparent process including all CFS stakeholders and relevant UN-bodies, other international organizations, international finance institutions, private philanthropic foundations, and private sector associations.

The elaboration process will be led by the CFS Secretariat in close collaboration with the Bureau, Advisory Group and High-Level Panel of Experts (HLPE). The GSF will be adopted by the CFS Plenary to ensure ownership by all.

The overall purpose of the GSF is to provide a dynamic instrument to enhance the role of the CFS as a platform to improve cooperation, catalyze coordinated action and provide guidance towards effective and synergized partnerships in support of global, regional and country-led plans and processes designed to prevent future food crises, eliminate hunger and ensure food security and nutrition for all human beings. More specifically, the GSF is expected to help the CFS:

  • Improve coordination and synchronized actions among all stakeholders based on comparative advantages and partnerships.
  • Strengthen coherence and convergence among policies and programs of countries, donors and other stakeholders.
  • Add value through a harmonized process of demand-driven (country-led) activities with scientific inputs from the network of professional expertise and knowledge (HLPE) and field experience (joint secretariat) by identifying focus areas, encouraging best practices, preventing duplication and overlapping, and filling the response gap.
  • Catalyze country-level capacity building.
  • Strengthen CFS as a platform for communication and information exchange.
  • Create an atmosphere of trust, shared responsibility and mutually reinforcing incentives among all stakeholders.

The GSF will be a high profile, a living document updated periodically by the CFS. The elaboration of the GSF should include a broad participatory process that will strive to “ensure the voices of all relevant stakeholders – particularly those most affected by food insecurity – are heard” The GSF will be voluntary and thus will not constitute a mandatory requirement and will be approved by CFS member states but will be endorsed by all stakeholders. Neither approval nor endorsement will be binding; they will rather constitute an acknowledgment that the document is a sound framework to improve convergence and synchronized action in food security and nutrition governance.

Civil Society Mechanism (CSM)

A critical aspect of the CFS reform was the establishment of the Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) to facilitate the participation of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the work of the CFS, including input to negotiation and decision-making. Three of the CSO members of the Contact Group, IPC (the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty including Via Campesina), Oxfam and Action Aid International, took the initiative to establish a drafting committee to facilitate the development of the CSM. The proposal was one of the official documents at the CFS meeting. Opening-up to a wider group of stakeholders was intended to help it to make better decisions on how to fight hunger and malnutrition and promote agricultural and rural development worldwide.

The CSM is intended to provide a space for dialogue between a wide range of civil society actors where different positions can be expressed and debated. The CSM will present common positions to the CFS where they emerge and the range of different positions where there is no consensus. The CSM included the introduction of the right for CSOs to participate in the CFS as full participants and not just observers and with the same rights as the members except the right to vote. As a consequence representative of small-scale food producers and other CSOs, along with private sector associations and other stakeholders took part in the 36th meeting of the CFS including IFOAM.

High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE)

Also as part of the ongoing reform of the international governance of food security and nutrition, a Steering Committee was established to lead the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) advisory body. 15 world-class experts were appointed to the committee including M. S. Swaminathan who is the Chair. They participate in their individual capacities, and not as representatives of their respective governments, institutions or organizations. The Steering Committee will appoint ad-hoc expert teams to provide independent expert knowledge on food security-related topics. Its function will be to assess and analyze the current state of food security and nutrition and its underlying causes and provide scientific and knowledge-based analysis and advice on specific policy-relevant issues.

All official CFS 36 preparatory documents

Statement by Ms. Swaminathan, Chairperson of the steering committee

Final Report of CSF 36

The United Nations System High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis (HLTF) - Updated Comprehensive Framework for Action (Sept 2010)

Thousand Day Movements