Voices from the ground:
From COVID-19 to radical transformation of our food systems
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This report presents the experiences and concerns of millions of small-scale food producers, workers, consumers, women and youth represented in the organizations that participate in the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples Mechanism (CSM)1.
As the COVID-19 pandemic swung from country to country in its deadly course this year, the members of the CSM Coordination Committee gathered virtually to discuss how it was affecting their communities and regions. From these discussions emerged the conviction that addressing the pandemic and its implications should be at the center of discourse and action not only in the CSM, but in the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) as a whole.
It would be inconceivable for the CFS to fail to assume its responsibility in the face of the worst food-affecting phenomenon to strike humanity since the 2007-2008 crisis that sparked its reform. The World Food Programme (WFP) warns that COVID-19 could almost double the number of people suffering from acute hunger, pushing it to more than a quarter of a billion by the end of 2020.2
Accordingly, over the past months the CSM has advocated that the CFS exercise all of its agreed functions in addressing COVID-19, including that of policy convergence. The cogency of this position has become increasingly apparent as the weeks have passed, bringing evidence that COVID-19 is not a passing episode, but a manifestation and harbinger of deeply-rooted challenges, that globalized food supply systems are subject to multiple fragilities and generate deep and often fatal inequalities, and that a coordinated and coherent global response adhering to agreed principles and guidelines has never been more indispensible.
The present report is intended as a contribution to meeting this challenge. The methodology adopted for its preparation has been inclusive and participatory. All CSM Coordination Committee members were asked to reach out to the constituencies and regions they facilitate, responding to three questions: 1) What impacts is COVID-19 having on food systems, food security and the right to food? 2) How are communities, solidarity movements, constituencies reacting to these impacts? 3) What public policy proposals are emerging for building more equitable and resilient food systems? The Women’s and Youth Working Groups of the CSM have made dedicated contributions from the viewpoints of their constituencies elaborating, respectively, a women’s autonomous report and a youth declaration.
The hundreds of inputs received have been synthesized into the present report and live links provided to longer documents. Video recordings have been inserted where possible in order to provide readers with the possibility of obtaining more detail and direct testimony. The diversity of style of the sections testifies to the fact that they have been authored by different groups in different places.
1 The CSM is articulated into the 11 constituencies enumerated in the CFS reform document (smallholder family farmers, artisanal fisherfolk, herders/pastoralists, landless, urban poor, agricultural and food workers, women, youth, consumers, Indigenous Peoples, and International NGOs) and 17 sub-regions.