• Report from the CFS first round of negotiations on the policy recommendations to reduce inequalities for food security and nutrition

The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) is developing Policy Recommendations on Reducing Inequalities for Food Security and Nutrition. A core part of this process involves negotiations, as these sessions allow member states, participants—including the CSIPM and other UN bodies—and observers to discuss the content of the policy document. The objective is to achieve an outcome that is truly relevant to diverse contexts and can guide policymakers in designing and implementing effective food security and nutrition policies.

The process includes two rounds of negotiations. The first round took place from June 3 to 7, and the second round will be held from July 1 to 5. On behalf of the CSIPM, a diverse delegation traveled from Tunisia, Panama, the UK, India, and Kenya to Rome to present the collectively identified priorities of the CSIPM Equity Working Group and share their experiences from the ground to ensure the policy document reflects the realities of the people. This is a summary of what was brought by the CSIPM during the first round of negotiations.

  1. Intersectional lens

For the CSIPM, the CFS Policy Recommendations must acknowledge the intersectional nature of inequalities. As highlighted in the HLPE report, this perspective is essential for creating appropriate and actionable policy recommendations.

The CFS policy recommendations must support the realities faced by people on a daily basis. In this regard, they should recognize that groups and individuals face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination based on gender, race, age, disability status, ethnicity, geographical location, religion or belief, sexual orientation, or poverty status.

“For instance, in India when you’re born into a particular community, it’s very clear which caste you belong to. And belonging to a particular caste is where discrimination begins, you begin to feel you face a lot of inequality in accessing the services that are meant to be for all people in the country.”– Aasha Ramesh, from India, the Asian Rural Women Coalition, and CSIPM CC member. 

⏯️ Aasha Ramesh, from India, is the CSIPM CC member facilitating the participation of the landless constituency. In the video she explains how discrimination linked to ethnicity and racism are at the core of inequalities. 

Hamadi Ag Mohamed Abba, an agropastoralist from Tomboctou, Mali, and the organization ADJMOR, describes how water scarcity is a widespread challenge in rural Mali. Farache, a community south of Lake Kamango, has been struggling with drought since the lake dried in 1973. To address this issue, the organization implemented a solar pump water system to support a horticulture project, which not only provides food but also offers a means of subsistence. In the video, Hamadi explains how the water shortage has also affected the community’s herders by limiting the availability of forage for their animals. On top of the impacts of drought, the community is also struggling with war context, that has forced some of them to move to refugee camps in Mauritania. 

An intersectional lens  would allow, for example, to analyse how the causes and impacts of climate change, war and food insecurity, among others, intersect in Mali, and provide decision-makers the tools to implement policies grounded on the realities faced by people.

Despite clear examples provided by the CSIPM and acknowledgment from several Member States of the importance of intersectionality, this remains a contentious issue. The debates have aimed to find a compromise in explaining the concept without explicitly naming it, as there might be a misunderstanding that intersectionality refers only to gender. In reality, as we have shown, intersectionality encompasses a broader range of issues.

2. Recognizing the links within conflicts, occupation and inequalities

As in Mali, we are witnessing a painful and alarming increase in the number of wars and armed conflicts around the world. In Gaza, Sudan, Yemen, Congo, Libya, and Haiti, to name a few, we see how, in addition to taking human lives, war strategies are weaponising essential resources like food and water, intensifying hunger and suffering. People living in these contexts are facing the harshest impacts of inequality, experiencing displacement, famine, loss of cultural identity, and loss of lands and territories.

The CSIPM has been advocating for the recognition of the inextricable link between colonial occupation, war, conflicts, and the exacerbation of inequalities. We called on the CFS to include a paragraph in the Policy Recommendations based on the CFS Framework for Action for Food Security and Nutrition in Protracted Crises (CFS-FFA). Although several Member States agreed to include recommendations recognizing occupation, building on the agreed language from the CFS 51 Final Report and the CFS-FFA, one of the most relevant CFS policy documents on protracted crises and food security, there has been intense debate around the inclusion and recognition of genocide.

Souad Mahmoud from Tunisia, the World March of Women and CSIPM CC member for the women’s constituency, explains in this video why the policy recommendations must explicitly refer to the women, men, and children living under occupation and currently experiencing genocide, as the population in Gaza.

Power concentration at the core of inequalities

Addressing inequalities in food systems starts by recognizing the power asymmetries that perpetuate inequalities. This includes disparities between large-scale food producers and peasants, landowners and the landless, and big agri-food companies versus small-scale farmers. According to the HLPE report, “food security and nutrition, and food systems policy should have an explicit focus on reducing inequalities, devoting particular attention to the interaction of multiple types of inequality that have a cumulative impact on the same groups of people (that is intersectional inequalities), taking into account rising power concentration in food systems.”

The CSIPM delegation provided numerous examples on how power concentration perpetuates inequalities, emphasizing its critical importance in the policy recommendations. How can a policy document address inequalities effectively if it fails to acknowledge and propose solutions to overcome power concentration?

Challenging the current economic system

In words of Dee Woods, “the current economic system that prioritises profit over people and the planet exacerbate inequalities. The financialization of food systems directs capital to those already in power, redistributing value away from food workers and farmers.”

The discussions around  the current economic system, including debt and trade, are being addressed for the first time in the CFS in this policy process. Although decision-making on debt and trade occurs in other international bodies, the CFS can provide valuable input on these issues as they have an enormous impact on food security and nutrition. The very foundations of the current economic system are also those that have exacerbated global inequalities.

“I come from one of the richest continents in the world, with good soil and conducive weather for food production, but also one of the poorest continents. And we see this in terms of hunger, Africa continues to be on the hunger map. When you look at inequalities in food as an example of debt, we find that the most indebted countries are located in Africa. As these negotiations continue, nearly every African country has a debt to pay. Debt servicing has implications for food production and consumption. We find that when the countries are paying off debts, the servicing of these debts is transferred to citizens through increased taxation on basic commodities including food and fuel. – Leonida Odongo, Kenya, Haki-Nawiri Afrika, CSIPM CC member. 

 The Rights of Indigenous Peoples 

For the CSIPM, policy recommendations aimed at reducing inequalities are crucial to addressing the root causes that lead to displacement and other severe consequences. For Taina Hedman, from Panama, member of the International Indian Treaty Council, and CSIPM CC member, the participation of Indigenous Peoples in the UN spaces bring forward the experiences from  their communities and regions, shedding light on centuries-long injustices, particularly against Indigenous Peoples. 

Another issue identified as contentious is the attempt from some Member States to include local communities in the same line as Indigenous Peoples, when referring to FPIC. If accepted, this could open the door to the continuation of extractivism of knowledge, and accepting the violations of this right won by the Indigenous Peoples.

A call for progressive and transformative policies

The CSIPM calls for a policy document rooted in a strong Human Rights framework. We need recommendations that prioritise the rights and needs of the most marginalised, aiming to eradicate all forms of oppression within our food systems. This progressive, transformative equity policy document is essential to transform the lived realities of people.

⏯️ Hear from the Equity Working Group delegation a summary of the main points of the first round of negotiations.

 

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