Regional FAO/Civil society Consultation for Europe (Riga, 5-6 June 2006) and FAO Regional Conference (Riga, 8-9 June 2006)

First overview of the results and other information about the FAO/Civil society Consultation and the FAO Conference for Europe

Daniel Van Der Steen, 3 mai 2006

A. Consultation, Conference and other events
B. The preparation process of the Riga Consultation
C. Complementary information about the IPC and FAO process
D. Statements and other results of the Consultation
E. Documents to download

A. Consultation, Conference and other events

1. The Consultation between the FAO and Civil Society from Riga (5-6 June 2006)

The Next European FAO / Civil Society Consultation will be held in Riga, Latvia, on the 5th and 6th June 2006. The Consultation will be followed, on the 8th and 9th June 2006, by the European FAO Conference.
The working languages will probably be, during the Riga Consultation, English, French and Spanish ; and we will probably also benefit, as it happened during the former consultations, from the meeting and translation facilities given by the FAO.
Other information, such as the (provisional) agenda, the information note (with the registration form for hotels in annex) and the form to send back to register for the meetings, can be uploaded here after.
The Consultation will give the opportunity to the European Civil society organizations to prepare the Conference, while addressing the main issues that are important for the organizations interested in agriculture, food security, trade and other issues related to the FAO work.
Between these 2 meetings, the European FAO Committee on agriculture will be held, on the 7th of June, and will prepare some of the issues that are at the Agenda of the European Conference. This Committee is a more technical meeting while the Conference is a more political meeting.
As it happened in the past Consultations (in Porto, in Cyprus and in Montpellier), the European members of the IPC for Food Sovereignty will co-organize in 2006, with the FAO Regional Office for Europe, the FAO-CSOs/NGOs/Social Movements Consultation, in relation with the Conference, at the beginning of the same week.
For to the European Civil society organizations, the Consultation will be an important opportunity to discuss crucial food and agricultural issues that are at the international and European agenda.
Moreover, during the 2006 European FAO Conference, the FAO will organize, for the first time at the European level, a Multi Stakeholders Dialogue (MSD), where the Civil Society Organizations have also an important role to play.
The Consultation will also be an important step in the preparation of the Special Forum of the "World Food Summit : ten years later" to be held in Rome in September 2006.

A first Steering Committee (held in Budapest in January 2006) and two phone conferences (held on the 30th of March and the 28th of April) discussed different issues related to the IPC (International Planning Committee) for the FAO work in Europe and to prepare the Riga Consultation and the participation in the Riga Conference.
The agenda for the Consultation, still a draft, can also be uploaded, in English and in French, at the end of this paper.
The Consultation will address food and agriculture issues that are important for Europe, as well for the European Union (EU) members than for the European East and Central Countries (EECCs) and will also address the impact of the EU policies in all the European countries and in other Regions in the World.

In addition to the draft Consultation agenda, you can also upload the FAO information note for the Consultation, including the form to send back in order to book the hotels in Riga.
It is here probably useful to make clear that the general rules are that the organizations will support the travel and staying costs of their members attending the meetings. Limited funds are however available for the IPC to finance a limited number of organizations that have financial capacities to support the meeting costs and that made a demand for support.
If you want staying possibilities with a lower cost than the one proposed in the FAO information note (the lowest proposed cost is here 50 €, but these possibilities will not remain for a long time), please let me know because the Latvian organizations are looking for collective staying opportunities at lower cost.

2. The FAO Conference for the European Region from Riga (8-9 June 2006)
Concerning the European Conference, it is important for the FAO to convince the governments to participate and to debate the importance of rural development in the European East and Central Countries (EECCs). In order to facilitate the participation of the ministers, the European Conference will be particularly short (a day and a half). Let me know if you are interested to participate also (as observer) to the European Conference (8th and 9th of June) and at the FAO Committee on agriculture (7th of June).
Something totally new for the European Region is the inclusion of a Multi Stakeholders Dialogue (MSD) in the Conference.
The initiative of the Multi Stakeholders Dialogue should be the result of the greater importance showed by the FAO to the Civil Society after 1996 (World Food Summit), even if it remains true that few means were invested into human resources for the follow-up.
Moreover, during the past Consultations, the Civil Society Organization (CSOs) proved their capacities to collaborate with governments in a constructive way.
Like the Conference, the Multi Stakeholders Dialogue will be also quite short. Given the process implies also the participation of all interest groups, the interventions need to be short and well prepared. It is why a preparation time will be needed.
If the IPC will facilitate the Multi Stakeholders Dialogue process during the Conference, in relation with the FAO, he will also prepare the dialogue process during the Consultation.
The dialogue, planned at point 5 of the official agenda of the Conference, includes the private sector and the local authorities, but it is not sure these groups will already participate in the Riga Conference.
Even if everybody in the Civil Society is not convinced of the interest of such a dialogue, at least it offers the possibility to have a debate with all the components of Civil Society, with a huge freedom of speech, and to push for common statements between different networks (for example between COPA and CPE for the group of the farmers).
To prepare the dialogue, IPC will organize, during the Consultation, the preparation of the common statements of existing interest groups inside of the IPC (such as farmers, fisherfolk, NGOs...). Interest groups not included in the IPC (such as private sector, local authorities, research institutions) could work in parallel during the Consultation.

At the European Conference, Civil Society Organizations will have at least 3 means to interact :
- the statements issued from the Consultation, that will be addressed to the governments representatives during the Conference on each point at the Conference’s agenda ;
- the Multi Stakeholders Dialogue, that will produce a text in which each « major group » participating in the dialogue will include a paragraph ;
- the organizations participating in the Conference keep the possibility to make interventions after the governments interventions (general FAO and United Nations rules).
Moreover, a meeting between a delegation of the Consultation participants and the FAO DG is generally planned.

Other information about these events and about FAO and Civil Society activities are available on the website in English and in French on the following addresses on the CSA website :

B. The preparation process of the Riga Consultation

The organizations to invite for the Consultation and other events in Riga are the European organizations interested in :
- the international governance for agriculture in the main fields (land reform and access, access to resources, poverty, impact of regulatory work...) and their impact in (Eastern and Western) European countries ;
- the lobbying of their national governments on these issues ;
- the East-West collaboration within Europe ;
- the impact of European policies on agriculture in Southern countries.

It is important to mobilize the European organizations about the issues related to the FAO’s work, sensibilize them on the important role of the FAO in the definition of food rules (cf. codex alimentarius), in the struggle against hunger, in analyzing the impacts from trade reforms on the poor and the farmers, in keeping the specific issues related to agriculture on the agenda. There is also the FAO’s mandate to help poor countries (with the specific problem related to the fact that the funds are given by the developed countries).

Some other aspects of the mobilization of European organizations are the following ones.
1) One of the difficulties to mobilize people at the European level towards the FAO is that the FAO has an evident role at world level and less at the European level, while many organizations believe there are problems in the South and not in the North.
2) In order to target the European public, we should show all the ways FAO impacts the food consumption of European citizens. And it is important to show how these policies affects consumption in daily live.
3) More and more people feel the need to have an East/West policy in Europe and to work more with the EECCs.
4) FAO should plays towards WTO a role of "watchdog" for food security (parallel to the Convention for climate change that plays the same role for the impact of trade on the climate, or to the Workers trade unions towards social dumping).
5) IPC Europe needs to develop its contribution more than the organization of a FAO/Civil society Consultation every 2 years. But this need more financial means, a larger group in charge of the Regional IPC and the development of a deeper thinking and deeper analyses.
6) European IPC is a structure that European organizations can use to work on the global level threw their impact on the world IPC. They are responsible for the impact of European policies on other Regions. This is why it is important to asses the impact of European policies on other regions.
7) European IPC should also develop interaction with governments, showing the contradictions between policies (trade/food security).

Other tasks for the Steering Committee are :
- to inform the organizations about the Riga events ;
- to prepare the Consultation program ;
- to organize the thematic preparation of the Consultation ;
- to choice the organisations to be funded (with a balance between sectors and countries) ;
- to establish a larger group (than the Steering Committee) to be better involved in the IPC work, in particular for the spreading of information.
Here also, the balance between sectors (for instance farmers, fisherfolk, NGOs......), countries and networks (for instance between IFAP and Via Campesina) is important.

An appeal is made to the interested persons and Organizations to help us in the preparation of these events. We need also to know more about the Civil Society organizations interested in these issues, as well in the European Region outside of the EU than in the new Member States. Particularly, we need to know better how the farmers, the consumers and the environment defenders are organized, which organizations are active in the country and what are their concerns in relation with the situation of food and agriculture in the country and the Region. Which are in particular the problems related to the entrance in the EU (turn into the agricultural policies). What is the impact of the farms, which problems do they face about access to markets, to land and other resources ?

C. Complementary information about the IPC and FAO process

Complementary information about the IPC is available on the following Website :

For the documents of the European Conference, see :
http://www.fao.org/Unfao/Bodies/RegConferences/erc25/erc25_en.htm (for english)
http://www.fao.org/Unfao/Bodies/RegConferences/erc25/erc25_es.htm (for spanish)

For all what concern the governmental process at European and world levels, please go to the following website :
http://www.fao.org/world/regional/reu/Content/NgO/DB/index_en.htm http://www.fao.org.

Information about Europe is available on the CSA website :
On this website, many documents are available on the former European Consultations mostly in french and English.

D. Statements and other results of the Consultation

The Riga FAO-NGO/CSO Consultation gathered representatives from 24 organisations from the European region, in preparation of the 25th Regional Conference for Rurope and the Thirty-fourth European Commission of Agriculture. Among those participating were : NGOs ; peasant farmer and agricultural organisations ; consumer organisations ; environmental organisations ; and associations of organic farmers.

First the participants debated three points that were at the agenda of the Conference. On these points, statements were produced and concerned the points 5, 6 and 7 of the Conference agenda :
- point 5 : The view of the European region on the role of FAO as provider of global public goods ;
- point 6 : Contribution of rural development in meeting the world food summit
(WFS) / millennium development goals (MDGs) in the region ;
- point 7 : Strengthening regional cooperation and assisting countries in controlling highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Europe, including CIS countries.

These statements were presented in spanish by Vicent Garcès (CERAI - Spain, in french by Sergio Marelli (Associazione ONG italiane -Italy) and in english by Mrs Tatevik Davtyan (Protection of consumers rights - Armenia).

The participants debated also another point that was at the agenda of the Commission of Agriculture on "The Impact of the development of agri-food markets on producers and consumers". A statement was prepared for the point 5 of the European Commission of Agriculture, but we had no chance to read it, because it came too late.

The Consultation discussed also 2 other issues that were important for the participants but that did not issued on statements :
- Impact for development of the Economic Partnership Agreements between European Union and the African, Caraibbean and Pacific (ACP) countries ;
- Civil society organizations and FAO internal reform.

Summary documents were prepared for the statements that were presented at the Conference in three languages : english, french and spanish.

Synthetic overviews of all the statements, including the one presented at the Commission of Agriculture, were also prepared in three languages.

On all these points, a longer document exist actually in french, but is not yet available in english or spanish.

The statements and other documents in 3 languages can be downloaded (see after).

The definitive agenda can also be downloaded (english and french) and other documents, such as the list of participants and the full report, will be available later.

A delegation had also the opportunity to meet during one hour with the FAO DG Jacques Diouf.
The meeting gave the opportunity to discuss the role of FAO, the follow-up of the 2006 Agrarian reform and rural development Conference (ICARRD) from Porto Alegre and the cooperation between FAO and Civil society.

All the FAO preparatory documents for the Conference and the Commission of Agriculture are available on the FAO website at following address :


E. Documents to download

- Summary of the statement on point 5 of the Conferece : The view of the European region on the role of FAO as provider of global public goods (english and spanish) ;
- Summary of the statement on point 6 of the Conferece : Contribution of rural development in meeting the world food summit (english and spanish) ;
(WFS) / millennium development goals (MDGs) in the region ;
- Summary of the statement on point 7 of the Conferece : Strengthening regional cooperation and assisting countries in controlling highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Europe, including CIS countries (english and spanish) ;
- Summary of the 4 statement prepared for the Conference and the Commission of Agriculture (english and spanish) ;
- Full presentation of the 4 statement prepared for the Conference and the Commission of Agriculture (actually in french only) ;
- Presentación completa de las Declaraciónes de la Consulta FAO - ONG-OSC de Riga (frances) ;
- Definitive Consultation agenda ;
- FAO information note for the Consultation including, in annex, the form to send back ;
- FAO information note for the Conference ;
- Presentation on the EPAS by Anne Wagner (GRET) ;
- Reform FAO. A vision for the 21st Century by Thomas Price (FAO) ;
- La politique de developpement rural : une politique au service du territoire (Terra Nuova).

Daniel Van Der Steen
Collective for Food Strategies (Belgian Non Governmental Organization)
Focal point for European in the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty

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