Briefing of may 2003 for the European Organisations - Part 3

Technical committees and other meetings in the beginning of 2003

4 June 2003

a. FAO meetings in the beginning of 2003
b. Review of the meetings, documents and activities of the civil society activities


For all the basic information about the work done by the civil society in relation to the FAO please consult following web pages:
- about the International Planning Committee (IPC):
- web page of the FAO devoted to the cooperation with NGOs:
- general web page of the FAO:
The contact address is :

a. FAO meetings in the beginning of 2003

The meetings that have already taken place in 2003

During the first quarter of 2003 there were meetings of FAO technical committees and of the inter-governmental working group:

-  the Committee on Fisheries - COFI, from February 24 to 28;
-  the Committee on Forestry - COFO, from March 10 to 14;
-  the Committee on Commodity Problems - CCP, from March 18 to 21;
-  the first meeting of the Inter Governmental Working Group - IGWG, from March 24 to 26;
-  the Committee on Agriculture - COAG, from March 31 to April 4.
-  the NGO advocacy campaign in the framework of the International Alliance Against Hunger), Rome, April 10-11.
-  the Committee on World Food Security - CFS, from May 12 to 16.

The remaining meetings in 2003

- FAO Council, decision body, from June 23 to 28.
- FAO Conference, decision body, in November.
- A seminar on agro-ecology (September-November of 2003) organised by the IPC and the Agro-ecology working group.

Meetings planned for 2004

- regional Conferences. For the European region, it will be in Montpellier in the beginning of May. Regional conference is being prepared by the other meetings, especially by:
-  the European Commission for Agriculture, that will take place in the end of February or in the beginning of March.
-  in parallel to the regional Conference there will be FAO - NGO/CSO/social movements Consultation, just before the official meeting.
Daniel Van Der Steen has been present at the CCP and COAG in Rome, but other organisations participated at other meetings.

b. Review of the meetings, documents and activities of the civil society activities

During the meetings in the firs quarter of 2003, numerous side events have been organized by the NGO/CSO/civil society movements, in the co-operation with the FAO or by the FAO itself.

(1) Committee on Fisheries (COFI)
For all information related to the COFI you can contact the IPC person responsible for the fishery sector:
Chandrika Sharma
International Collective in Support of Fishworkers - (ICSF)
27, College Road Chennai 600 006 India
Tel.: (+91 44) 827 5303 - Fax: (+91 44) 825 4457
E-mail: icsf@vsnl.com
Web page: www.icsf.net et www.icsf.org

FAO documents:
- Information note for representatives of NGOs attending the twenty-fifth session of the Committee on fisheries, Rome, Italy, 24-28 February 2003 (EN).

Documents of the civil society:
- Report on the NGO/ CSO meeting on 23 February 2003, by Chandrika Sharma, ICSF (EN).
- Report to IPC of NGO/ CSO events at COFI (24 to 28 February 2003) (EN).
- Strategies increasing the contribution of small fisheries to food security and fight against poverty, NGO Declaration at the 25th session of the COFI at FAO (February 26, 2003) (FR - EN - SP).
- Fisheries Partnerships Agreements: will they be fair ? An NGO comment (EN).

(2) Committee on Forestry (COFO)
I do not have the reports of the work of civil society organisations related to this committee. Those who have information on this issue should contact me. At this moment I will limit myself on the official documents of the FAO.

FAO documents:
- Agenda and notes of the official meeting.
- Information note for non-governmental organisations attending the sixteenth session of the Committee on forestry, Rome, Italy, 10-14 March, 2003 (EN).

(3) Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP)
Besides participating in this Committee I had the opportunity to be involved in the preparation and participation in the side event organised by the IPC on Friday March 21st on the food sovereignty, together with Paul Nicholson (Via Campesina), Paul Mutunga (KNFU), Antonio Onorati (international focal point of the IPC), Luca Colombo (Greenpeace and member of the representation of the IPC in Rome) and Béatrice Gasco (IPC secretariat).
Before the event there was a discussion among the IPC representatives and the FAO officials responsible for the issues of commodity problems and market, especially with MM. Ali Gurkan, Ramesh Sharma and Mr Sumiter. FAO staff people estimate that food sovereignty should be better taken into account if at WTO such elements as food safety, environment, rural development or animal welfare are placed in the green box. FAO staff people also estimate that it is useful to have a "technical" discussion on this issue, to discuss on the base of field studies and on the basis of studies; and finally to establish the pertinence of the positions that civil society organisations take.
The IPC however suggested that the contribution of the civil society does not base primarily on the scientific analyses but much more on the testimonies issuing from the presence on the field.

The co-chairs of the side event were Luca Colombo and Hertwig de Haen (assistant to the Director General from the Economic and Social Department of the FAO.
The presentations (Paul Nicholson, Paul Mutunga and myself) were followed by a discussion on how to phrase the concept of food sovereignty and what is the best way to take it into account. The discussion was well appreciated although the presence of governments was too limited.
After the event there was a new meeting with FAO officials, with the aim to agree on concrete working tasks for the future. It is clear that there is a will to continue co-operation on the side of FAO officials and especially to continue the work on food sovereignty.

Different ways to improve the co-operation between civil society and FAO have been recalled:
-  to produce joint studies on field experiences, by integrating FAO expertise and experience of the representatives of social movements;
-  to discuss possible instruments of agricultural policy (including direct payments and export subsidies) on the basis of their consequences for food sovereignty (especially dumping and low prices);
-  it has been proposed to the FAO to conduct studies on the effect of low prices on small farmers and the responsibility of these low prices in the crises of farmers systems based on the family farms;
-  to avoid implementing studies when it is too late;
-  not to limit the problems on international market but to take into account also privatisation of the resources, control of internal markets, agro-ecological and socio-ecological production models;
-  "capacity building" programmes of the FAO (to improve the capacity of work on the market issues) could be more open to the civil society organisations (there is already a percentage foreseen for this purpose);
-  participation of the regional members of the IPC on the FAO regional conferences devoted to the case studies and "capacity building";
-  to invite FAO members to important meetings of the civil society on the questions of interest for food sovereignty (this recommendation was since concretised by inviting a FAO representative, Mr Poonyth (FAO Unit for Commodity Problems), to the "workshop on mutually-supportive agricultural and trade policies", held in Dakar, from the 19th to the 21th of May 2003 .

During the Committee and its preparation, there was an interest to reinforce the thematic dialogue between the representatives of the civil society and the FAO on the questions of agricultural trade and food sovereignty.
Regarding the official meeting, the issues that have been discussed at the Committee are interesting, but interesting are also documents prepared by the FAO services. I would like to draw your attention especially to some preparatory documents that are accessible on the FAO web page (link and reference below).

FAO documents:
Some interesting or important FAO preparatory documents for CCP:
-  "Major developments and issues in agricultural commodity markets".
This document deals especially with the problem of loosing of power of the governments in the relation to the process of concentration of the agricultural and food sector.
-  "Major policy issues and market factors having implications for the long-term performance of the agricultural exports".
This document is especially important in the context before Cancun.
-  "Some trade policy issues relating to trends in agricultural imports in the context of food security".
-  "Information note on the food aid flow".
-  "Information note to the NGO representatives for the participation in the Committee on commodities", Rome, Italy, 18-21 March 2003 (EN).

Documents of the civil society:
-  Protection of small scale family based agriculture. To what does it respond to? To what extend is it desirable and achievable? Text presented by Daniel Van Der Steen at the side event on food sovereignty on Friday 21 March (FR).
-  The impact of WTO and other international rules on the autonomy of national agricultural policy. Case study of Kenya. Text presented by John Mutunga at the side event on food sovereignty on Friday 21 March (EN).

(4) The first meeting of the inter-governmental working group on volontary agreements for assuring right to food
For all information related to the inter-governmental working group you may contact the IPC person responsible for right to food:
Michael Windfuhr
Executive Director of Food First Information and Action Network/FIAN International
P.O. Box 102243, D-69012 Heidelberg, Germany
Tel: +49 6221 83 06 20 Fax: +49 6221 83 05 45
E-mail: fian@fian.org et windfuhr@fian.org
From the Belgian side, I have obtained information from Priscilla Claes (FIAN-Belgique) and perhaps I will get more information from Jan Vannoppem (Vredeseilanden), the two persons sent by the Belgian national platforms responsible for agriculture - PFSA and VODO.

FAO documents:
- Report of the first session of the inter-governmental working group responsible for elaboration of a set of voluntary agreements to implement the right to an adequate nutrition in the context of national food security, a FAO document.
This official report of the inter-governmental working group can be found on the following address connected with the documents of the Committee on World Food Security:

Documents of the civil society:
- Vers l’élaboration de lignes de conduite sur le droit à l’alimentation, Compte-rendu de la première réunion du groupe de travail intergouvernemental chargé de l’élaboration des lignes de conduite pour le droit à une nourriture adéquate, qui s’est tenue à Rome du 22 au 25 mars 2003, par Priscilla Claes (FR).
- List of Participants at IGWG (EN).
- Voluntary Guidelines for the Implementation of the Right to Adequate Food. A Joint North-South Civil Society Contribution (EN).
- Examples for the formulation of "voluntary guidelines to support Member States’ efforts to achieve the progressive implementation of the right to adequate food" (EN)

(5) Committee on Agriculture (COAG)
Participating also in this committee, I have also had the occasion to be involved in the preparation and participation of the side event on Agro-ecology organised by IPC on Monday 31 March.
It is necessary to note that numerous other events have been organised by other organisations as well as FAO departments during the whole week. Here the overview:
-  International NGO/CSO Planning Committee - Forum on Agro-ecology (31 March, 12:45 -14:15);
-  First report on the state of animal genetic resources in the world (31 March, 17:00- 19:00);
-  Consultation of the parties to the ADRD Initiative (1st April, 12:45 - 14:15);
-  Results of the 3rd World Water Forum (1st April, 17:45 -19:00);
-  Résorber le « fracture numérique » dans les campagnes - Information et communication (2nd April, 12:45 - 14:15);
-  International evaluation of the role of science and agricultural technology for the fight against hunger (2nd April, 17:45 - 19:00);
-  FAO and biotechnology (3rd April, 12:45 - 14:15).

During the week, the presence of a part of the IPC members has enabled a discussion on many problems.
Besides, all the European members (European geographical focal points and Europeans responsible for sectors and themes) have met during the week between themselves as well as with the FAO personnel responsible for the European region (Ms C. Forthomme, Ms D. Moro and Mr G. Hirzel) and with the service for relations with civil society, especially to exchange information and finally to plan future work related to the FAO agenda.

Regarding the official meeting, it is necessary to note that numerous interesting issues have been discussed, especially in relation to sustainable agriculture and the Agro-ecological model, taking into account small farmers, problems of climate change and food safety (even if the way in which these issues have been tackled, especially the last one, does not correspond strongly to the way of the civil society and the IPC). If we compare the issues to those that were discussed 6 years ago, we can in any case notice a positive development. In any case, the problems of environment and sustainable agriculture are since now a part of the concern. Therefore, the FAO surely plays an important role in the development of the mentality, even if its power is weaker that the power of, for example, WTO.
Also here, there are interesting preparatory documents that are accessible on the web.

FAO documents:
Some specially interesting or important preparatory documents for COAG:
-  Elaboration of a framework of good agricultural practice.
-  Strengthening of support for means of sustainable existence in rural areas.
-  Information note related to the Consultation of WTO/FAO experts on food, nutrition and prevention of chronic diseases.
-  Report on the priority areas for an interdisciplinary action in the field of organic farming.
-  Report of the Inter-governmental working group on the climate change.
-  Bio-security in the context of food and agriculture.
-  Report on the situation of signature and ratification of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for food and agriculture.

Other FAO document:
- Information Note for Non-Governmental and Civil Society Organizations. Seventeenth Session of the Committee on Agriculture, Rome, 31 March - 4 April 2003.

Documents of the civil society:
-  Agro-ecology COAG side event, Monday 31 March. Presentation of the NGO/CSO International Planning Committee (IPC) Agro-ecology proposal, IRAN ROOM, 12:45 pm. Presentation Leaflet (EN).
-  Presentation of the side event on agro-ecology by Patrick Mulvany, ITDG, in the name of the IPC Working Group on Agro-ecology, Report to the plenary meeting of the COAG, 3 April 2003 (FR - EN).
-  FAO and Agro-ecology. Strengthening the capacity of the FAO to support food production and food security of resource poor family farms. An IPC proposal.
-  Presentation of the side events to the COAG. 17th session of the Committee on Agriculture, Rome, 31 March - 4 April 2003.

(6) Meeting on the campaign of advocacy of NGOs in the context of the International alliance against hunger
For more information you should contact the NGO representatives that have taken part (Bread for the World Institute - USA, FOCSIV - Italy, CFSI - France, IPC) or have been involved in another way (SOS - Faim Belgium for the Belgian coalition against hunger).

FAO documents:
-  Background document for the FAO is CFS: 2003/5-Sup.2, available among the preparatory documents for the Committee on World Food Security (see web page below).
-  Advocacy campaign meeting programme, by the FAO TCDS.
-  Participants in discussions on NGO advocacy campaign in the context of the International Alliance against Hunger - 10-11 April 2003, by the FAO TCDS.
Documents of the civil society:
- A Coalition against hunger, by Jean-Jacques GRODENT, President of the Comité de pilotage de la campagne de sensibilisation du Fonds belge de Survie, SOS Faim Belgique, October 2002 (FR).
- Coalition against hunger, Campagne belge de sensibilisation 2002 - 2011, Texte d’orientation pour la campagne de sensibilisation sur la sécurité alimentaire, la pauvreté et l’exclusion dans le cadre du Fonds belge de survie (FR).

(7) Committee on the World Food Security (12-16 May 2003)
On the contrary to the expectations, there was no plenary meeting of the IPC at the occasion of this committee; a plenary meeting is planned for the FAO conference in November 2003. Traditionally, numerous civil society organisations however usually participate at this committee that is the only annual one (others take place every two years).

FAO Documents:

(8) FAO Council (23-28 juin 2003)
This is a biannual institutional meeting of the FAO that takes decisions, while the contents are generally prepared during the meetings of the technical committees and other meetings.

Documents FAO :

(9) FAO Conference (29 November - 10 December 2003)
This is another biannual institutional FAO meeting that takes decisions. An enlarged IPC meeting is planned.
To my knowledge, there are no documents available yet.

(10) Seminar on Agro-ecology (end of 2003) organised by the IPC and working group on Agro-ecology
Also here there are no details at this moment.

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