Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition Approved by the UN Committee on World Food Security

The UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in its 47th Session, held virtually on 8-11 February, endorsed the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition (VGFSyN) underlining the valuable input the guidelines will provide to the UN Food Systems Summit 2021 discussions and any follow-up process.

Although one paragraph of the guidelines emphasises the importance of sustainable and resilient food systems, through a range of sustainable innovative approaches including agroecology and organic agriculture as examples, the whole document appears weak and below the expectations of civil society and farmers’ organizations.

The Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) of the CFS criticised the guidelines mainly due to the absence of human rights as the central pillar of food systems transformation, omission of the right to safe drinking water, no recommendations on reduction of pesticides and dangerous agro-chemicals, dilution of the importance of agroecology and lack of recognition of the industrial agriculture model as the main responsible of the current unsustainable food systems.

The virtual 47th Plenary Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS)

It is odd that the same Committee session also discussed the report on “Food Security and Nutrition: Building a Global Narrative towards 2030” prepared by the CFS High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE), recognising as well its relevance in preparation of the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit 2021.  The report, unlike the VGFSyN, highlights the need of prioritizing the right to food and the need of taking into consideration the external costs of food systems, it also asks for a radical transformation of them, putting agroecology as one of main solutions to face their challenges.

For those engaged in the Food Systems Summit “dialogues” and “action tracks”, this report, welcomed by the CFS can be used to advocate for truly sustainable food systems.