The CSM is the largest international mechanism of civil society organisations (CSOs) seeking to influence agriculture, food security and nutrition policies and actions - nationally, regionally and globally.
In the reform process the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in 2009, Member States recognised the right of CSOs to “autonomously establish a global mechanism for food security and nutrition which will function as a facilitating body for CSO/NGOs consultation and participation in the CFS”1.
A proposal for the establishment of the CSM was endorsed by CSOs at the Civil Society Consultation held in Rome in October 20102 and acknowledged by CFS Member States during the 36th Session of the CFS in the same month3. The CSM proposal had three drafts, each of which went through a thorough consultation process, receiving contributions from a broad range of civil society actors. The results of those consultations and submitted contributions are available if you scroll down to the end of the page.
The CSM is reaching out to hundreds of CSOs in all continents, sharing information with them on global policy debates and processes, promoting civil society consultations and dialogue, supporting national and regional advocacy and facilitating the participation of a diverse range of CSOs at the global level, in the context of the CFS.
The purpose of the CSM is to facilitate civil society participation in agriculture, food security and nutrition policy development at national, regional and global levels in the context of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS).
Functions and activities
The CSM aims to support CSOs to influence policy processes and outcomes at the global level by facilitating civil society participation in CFS Plenary Sessions, Open Ended Working Groups, Task Teams, the CFS Advisory Group and other CFS mechanisms.
The CSM seeks to enable CSOs to influence policy processes at regional and national levels by facilitating civil society participation in regional inter-governmental events and processes, e.g. FAO regional conferences, and facilitating participation in national, multi-stakeholder food security governance structures and processes.
The CSM facilitates the broad and regular exchange of information, analysis and experience between CSOs from around the world. It also enables the development of common CSO positions where possible and helps communicate divergent positions where there is no consensus. These functions are performed through the facilitation of face to face and virtual meetings, trainings, consultations, reports and papers, the CSM website4, CSM working groups and an annual CSM Forum.
Organising principles and ways of working
The CSM is an inclusive space open to all civil society organizations, with priority given to the organisations and movements of the people most affected by food insecurity and malnutrition, i.e. smallholder producers, fisherfolk, pastoralists, indigenous, urban poor, migrants, agricultural workers etc. The CSM is founded on the belief that the people most affected by food insecurity and malnutrition must be the agents of their own development, are best placed to represent their own interests and views and are not only victims but also bearers of solutions.
The CSM seeks to involve the full range of CSOs concerned about, and affected by, food insecurity and malnutrition, and to ensure that a wide range of views can be heard by policy makers on how to address these issues. The CSM respects pluralism, autonomy and self-organization and tries to ensure a balance of gender, regions, constituencies and sectors. The CSM presents common positions to policy makers where they emerge and the range of different positions where there is no consensus.
The CSM aims to be a decentralised, grassroots based mechanism with many of its activities, such as analysis, trainings and consultations, taking place at national and regional levels. As much as possible, resources will be de-centralised and the CSM will avoid creating bureaucratic structures at global level. However, in the initial stages of the CSM it may be necessary to maintain significant global level resources in order to facilitate the development of capacities and processes at regional, sub-regional and national levels, with resources being increasingly de-centralised over time.
Members of the CSM can participate in activities through the 11 constituencies and the 17 sub-regional groups5. Through participation in the CSM, members are able to participate in political processes relating to the CFS, have access to information, dialogue with other CSOs and develop common positions and complementary strategies and ways of working.
The work of the CSM members is facilitated by its Coordination Committee which consists of 41 focal points for different constituencies and sub-regions. The first face-to-face meeting of the Committee was held in Cordoba from 30th May – 1st June with generous support from the Spanish Government. The role of Coordination Committee members is to facilitate the work of CSOs within their constituencies and sub-regional groups. They perform this role by sharing information, facilitating dialogue and consultations, supporting analysis and advocacy at national and regional levels, and feeding analysis and positions into global level policy processes. The Coordination Committee also oversees the work of the civil society CFS Advisory Group members and the international Secretariat.
The CSM has established international Working Groups as a means of consulting with CSM members on policy issues under discussion within the CFS and feeding the diverse views of CSOs into the work of the CFS.
The CSM also has four members of the CFS Advisory Group, who have the role of ensuring that decisions made by the CFS Bureau are informed by a wide range of CSOs from around the world.
The work of the CSM is facilitated by a small, neutral Secretariat which amongst other tasks, maintains the CSM website www.csm4cfs.org and can be contacted by email, which can be found on the "contact us" page
1 CFS: 2009/2 Rev.2, para.16, http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/cfs/Docs0910/ReformDoc/CFS_2009_2_Rev_2_E_K7197.pdf
2 CSM proposal, http://cso4cfs.org/civil-society-mechanism/
3 CFS: 2010/Final Report, para 32, http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/cfs/Docs0910/CFS36Docs/Final_Report/CFS36_Final_Report_K9551_E.pdf
5 See endorsed CSM proposal, paras 14 & 20 http://cso4cfs.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/csm-en.pdf