After a long discussion process at the FAO : the new Committee on World Food Security is arrived !

Daniel Van Der Steen, 27 October 2009

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

News of the reformed Committee
Attached documents

During its 35th session, from the 14th to the 17th of October 2009, the FAO Committee on World Food Security negotiated, amended and accepted the elements of a deep reform of the Committee. The proposals submitted to the 191 Member States of the Committee were the result of a negotiations process of 8 month, which involved, not only Member States, but also organizations form the Civil Society, NGO’s and other CSO’s. The role of the Committee was reinforced and its composition extended, including the CSO’s (private sector) and NGO’s, which, now, can intervene in the same manner as the Member States in the discussions, but without having the right to vote. The details of this news are presented hereunder.

It is at the end of its 35th session, the 17th of October 2009, that the Committee on Food Security (CFS), belonging to the FAO, approved the text negotiated and amended related to the reform of this Committee. The discussions pursued during the night, from Thursday to Friday and a final text had been approved on the Saturday, 17th under the public cheers. A 5 minute long standing ovation was clearly unusual in the history of this Committee, whose goal is, since the Food Summit in 1996, to reduce by half and in 15 years period the number of undernourished persons in the world (in 1996, 850 millions -> 425 millions).

The reform was decided last year, in the framework of the FAO reform and especially after the shock induced by the food price crisis by the end of 2007. Moreover, the rapid growth of the number of undernourished persons recorded these months constituted also a powerful catalyst to reinforce the world agricultural governance, process in which the reinforcement of the Committee should play a major role.
The FAO has, indeed, revaluated the number of undernourished persons in the world, which now is higher than 1 billion (cf FAO-WFP: The food insecurity situation in the world. Economic crisis, repercussion and lessons. 2009).

As a result of the reform, the Committee sees its role strongly reinforced whereas its composition has been extended.
The Organizations of the Civil Society (OSC), including organizations of agricultural producers, the IPC, the NGOs and other CSOs, for instance organizations of small-scale fishermen and indigenous people…, will intervene there in a more effective way, as participants to the debates, no longer as observers. It is obviously also the case for intergovernmental organizations and for private sector representatives. If these new members (formerly observers allowed to intervene at the end of the debate) will now be able to participate at the discussions, however they will have no voting right.
This crucial decision is the result of preliminary negotiations within a contact group including States, but also organizations of Civil Society, intergovernmental organizations and other organizations and persons (such as the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations for the right to food). This contact group pursued its works during summer and the beginning of autumn. It is a first crucial step which was done. The details of the news are presented here after.

News of the reformed Committee

The Committee is considered as a central element of the evolving organ which is the Global partnership for agriculture, alimentation and nutrition. It will constitute an international and intergovernmental open platform, including a large range of stakeholders committed to a coordinated work and to the support of processes encouraged by countries to end hunger and guarantee food and nutritional security of the whole world. The CFS will strive for a world free of hunger where countries implement the voluntary guidelines for the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security.

The Committee will play different roles:
- coordination at global level;
- policy convergence;
- support and guidance to countries and regions.

In a second time (phase 2), the role will be extended to:
- coordination at national and regional levels;
- promotion accountability and share best practices at all levels;
- develop a global strategic framework for the food and nutritional security.

Committee composition
The CFS is and will continue to be an intergovernmental organ composed by members, participants and observers.

The members are State representatives and, in particular, the members of the United Nations and, especially, roman institutions dedicated to food security: FAO, WFP, IFAD.
They take part to the work of the Committee and take the decisions.

The participants are:
- Representatives of UN agencies and bodies with a specific mandate in the field of food security and nutrition and representatives of other relevant UN system bodies whose overall work is related to attaining food security, nutrition and the right to food;
- Civil Society and non-governmental organizations, including their networks, whose activities are related to the food and nutrition security.
This group will search for a geographical and gender balance;
-The consultative group for the international agricultural research and other organisms in charge of agricultural research;
- International and regional financial institutions (for instance, the World Bank, the IMF, regional development banks and the WTO);
- Representatives of private sector associations and of private philanthropic foundations active of concern to the Committee.
On the contrary of Member States, the participants don’t take decisions.

Observers can also be invited to participate in a permanent or occasional way. It concerns, for instance, regional associations and regional intergovernmental institutions of development, local, national, regional and global NGOs/CSOs, different from those already participating to the meetings, and other networks and associative organizations, notably local authorities, foundations, technical or research institutions.
The observers can be invited by the President to take part to the debate during a Committee session.

Attached documents

- Final declaration resulting from the deliberations of the CFS can be downloaded here
- “A food battle won”. Interesting comment about the event by Nora McKeon (NGO Terra Nuova, partner of the CSA in the “EuropAfrica” project).
- For more information on the process and the issues, see the article presenting the results of the meeting in Bellagio, one of the preliminary steps of the previous negotiation process.
- All the documents concerning the contact group are available on the website of the contact group
(login: CFS and password: CFS). You will find all the versions of the discussed text, the proposals made during the negotiations by the different protagonists, for instance IPC and the EU), the composition of the contact group…
- Position of the European Food Security Group of CONCORD, the NGO federation of the European Union.
- To be aware of the food insecurity situation in the world in 2009, see the following document: 2009 FAO publication on food insecurity in the world

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