Letter of the CSM WG on Food Systems and Nutrition to CFS

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To the kind attention of:

H.E. Hans Hoogeveen, Ambassador of the Netherlands, Chairperson, CFS Open-Ended Working Group on Food Systems and Nutrition

H.E. Thanawat Tiensin, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand, Chairperson, Committee on World Food Security (CFS)

All CFS Member States and participants

10th of June 2020

Dear Ambassador Hoogeveen,

For the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples Mechanism for relations with the CFS, the process of negotiating the guidelines on food systems and nutrition is of great importance. As in all the negotiations that have taken place in the CFS, members of the CSM have made and are currently making an enormous effort to enable participation from civil society and IndigenousPeoples and make available to the CFS all the experience, knowledge, innovative proposals and wisdom of the groups mostaffected and discriminated against by the prevailing food systems. We value the CFS immensely as one of the few places in the UN system where this is possible.

It is in this context that we wish to express serious concerns about the direction that the dynamics of work in the OEWG has taken.

Firstly, we would like to highlight that, in the context of the Covid19 pandemic, the meetings of the OEWG that have been held virtually have had serious limitations in terms of inclusiveness and participation, not only of civil society but also of entire regions of Member States. Unequal access to virtual media and scheduling of the meetings without considering different timezones, as well as lack of interpretation and lack of preparatory documents in the six UN languages, have prevented broad participation.

Secondly, the methodology for working and building consensus to facilitate negotiation is not clear. After a first round of comments on Draft One requested for the April 14 meeting with no clarity on how they were taken into account, the abrupt request for inputs by May 11 led us to express our concerns about the purpose of providing text change proposals when negotiations on the text have not yet started. The subsequent formatting of the inputs of May 11 into a “matrix” did notadequately take into account the comments submitted by the CSM because most of our points were missing and there was no way to identify what CSM had recommended. We found our comments grouped with many others, and it is likely that we had different points than some of these Member States or CFS participants. Likewise, several Member States expressed their disagreement at the informal meeting on 28 May, as their contributions were not reflected adequately in the above-mentioned matrix and there was a lack of transparency as to who made which proposal.

In order to create a constructive and trusting environment to address the divergences in terms of the contents of the guidelinesand to be able to build the necessary commitments, it is necessary to adopt a methodology that allows for the visibility of the comments and suggestions of all. We therefore believe that comments should not be put into a matrix format, but they should be solicited as comments on sections of the draft for negotiations and uploaded to the CFS platform so that they canbe made visible and taken into account by all CFS actors when it comes to future discussions.

In a constructive spirit, we would like to propose some elements that would be useful to clarify the procedure and methodology of work in the coming weeks and months. In order to substantially advance the consensus-building process, we believe that informal discussions on the most controversial issues based on the dialogue that took place on 28 May should be organized.

We believe that it is important to allow sufficient time for separate topics to be discussed, rather than trying to address theentire guidelines or major sections together. This could be done by breaking the discussion into several shorter sessions focused on a combination of divergent issues, clearly identifying the scope of each session, responding to feedback as needed,and then developing a time- table of what and when it will be discussed – similar to the methodology of the informal virtual sessions being held within the “Agro-ecological and other innovative approaches” process. In our view, this initiative is successfully achieving in-depth discussions on identified divergent issues and seeking possibilities for promoting further convergence among Member States and CFS participants on issues.

To support the identification of controversial issues within the Food Systems and Nutrition OEWG, which was already initially addressed by the Chair’s Summary, the CSM identified the following during the last OEWG meeting on 28th May:

  • Key Concepts & Definitions (food systems, nutritious foods, sustainable & healthy diets, )
  • Trade
  • Food safety
  • Food reformulation, food fortification, biofortification
  • Pesticides & chemical fertilizers
  • Fiscal interventions (tax, subsidies, )
  • Monitoring and follow-up
  • Gender analysis and approach
  • Knowledge systems for evidence-base (formal science, indigenous knowledge, experiential knowledge, )

We therefore urge you, Honourable Ambassador, and all CFS Member States to ensure that the discussion of the draft guidelines is done in the spirit of inclusiveness and mandate of the reformed CFS to pave the way towards decisions on the core aspects of food security and nutrition.

We thank you for your attention and remain at your disposal to continue contributing to this process. Yours sincerely,

CSM WG on Food Systems and Nutrition