Hernando Salcedo, FIAN Colombia

Before we start with a brief introduction, I’d like to remind you all to speak slowly when you take the floor and to turn on your camera to facilitate interpretation. We will be recording this meeting in the original audio language and it will be made public on the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism’s (CSM) webpage.

Once again I would like to welcome you all. This is an important moment for civil society. We have spent three years, if you consider the formal calendar, but perhaps much more, working on this process of negotiations, which led to the endorsement by states of the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition. The CSM has played a key role throughout. What I wish to highlight now, as facilitator, and hoping that this dialogue will inspire us all, is that we are convinced of how important the CFS mission is. The CFS mission, and that of the CSM, provides a unique space within the United Nations system. The wide diversity of actors participating in this space will always want to defend it based on the overall mission of the Committee on World Food Security.

The crisis that we are currently facing is directly linked to food. On the one hand, the impact of centuries of human activity expansion has more recently endangered the stability of biodiversity and ecosystems, and perhaps manifests in what we are witnessing as a moment of risk. On the other, hunger continues to be an important factor of suffering among people who are affected by malnutrition, and who now see themselves as the most affected by this pandemic in terms of morbidity and mortality.  And this is highly pertinent. This crisis is deeply linked to a food systems problem.  Hence the mission of the Committee on World Food Security is a mission to defend rights and the right to adequate food and nutrition as a fundamental way of coming out of this crisis. We have to take steps toward relations based on life on the planet and not only on productivism.

We have to migrate toward paradigm shifts that will allow for a way to share life between humans and the planet and not merely in terms of exploitation.  And in that sense, we also aim to build a type of diplomacy that excludes alienation, that includes human beings, and that includes a planet-based outlook which we strive for as Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism, and as part of the Committee on World Food Security’s mission. This is not a trade platform. It is a platform from which to defend rights and the right to adequate food and nutrition.

Based on this inspiring vision, we can now start our interventions. We will have three or four interventions. The first person to take the floor is Hamadi Mohamed Abba, member of the World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Peoples, nomad peoples who raise animals. He is from the indigenous Touareg people, and he will be joining us from Timbuktu in Mali. Go ahead Hamadi, we can hear you.

Hamadi Mohamed Abba, WAMIP

Hello. Thank you Hernando for giving me the floor. I will make a statement on the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition, endorsed by member states at the 47th plenary session of the CFS.

Following our active participation for 5 years in the process of negotiations, and after a collective assessment of the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition, endorsed by member states at the 47th plenary session of the CFS in February 2021, the CSM expresses its disappointment and discouragement at the outcome.   In fact, during the last negotiation sessions in February 2021, it was observed that the process of policy convergence was hijacked and certain guiding principles were breached, in particular the principle of inclusiveness and participatory negotiations.

The February 2021 sessions were marked, among other things, by:

– a lack of interest in the CSM’s opinions,

– irregular methodologies,

– rushed time schedules,

– and a hostile atmosphere with strong power games.

The CSM does not rejoice in expressing its disappointment and discouragement, because the guidelines do not meet our constituencies’ expectations nor our priorities, which we have defended for 5 years in a climate of trust at the CFS, which aims to be the foremost inclusive intergovernmental platform for food security and nutrition.

Since the start of the process, one of our expectations was that participants would focus on identifying problems and possible solutions, as well as formulating guidelines and strategies for human rights-based actions for transformation toward more sustainable, healthy and just food systems.

We regret to state that these negotiations are a missed opportunity, therefore the CSM notes and reiterates that the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition endorsed by Member States are insufficient for transforming food systems, which is so urgently needed. Moreover, certain parts of these Guidelines could even jeopardize the work and livelihoods of people.

Thanks to the continued engagement of a few member states, the CSM and a few other participants, the Guidelines nevertheless contain some positive aspects, which can help support our ongoing work at national and local levels, despite the fact that in most cases, these positive points are conditioned by caveats intended to weaken them.

We remind states of their responsibility as duty-bearers to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of all, and call on the CFS to monitor the effects that these guidelines may have.

Thank you.

Hernando Salcedo, FIAN Colombia

Thank you very much Hamadi, thank you for this intervention from Mali. I now give the floor to Charlotte Dreger from FIAN International. Charlotte is part of the facilitation team of the CSM Food Systems Working Group and is in Germany. Go ahead Charlotte.

Charlotte Dreger: FIAN International

Thank you very much, Hernando. Well, after our collective assessment as Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples Mechanism, we believe unfortunately that the guidelines fail to meet the ambition, mandate and aspirations that this process should have had.  They are far from the CSM expectations and priorities and they can even undermine progress made so far. We therefore deeply regret that Member States have decided to endorse a document that in our eyes is more oriented towards maintaining the status quo than committed to the ambitious and profound transformation that is so urgently needed.

Let us explain why we think that these guidelines are not giving guidance on how to transform our food systems towards more just, sustainable and healthy ones. We have identified 5 main points:

  • First of all, the guidelines do not demonstrate the urgency for transformation by not recognizing that we need to redirect the current dominant food systems: Instead, they blur the responsibilities that today’s industrial food systems have for the climate crisis, ecological destruction and related pandemics that we are witnessing; they do not acknowledge the impacts of ultra-processed foods and beverages on malnutrition and chronic health problems; nor the impacts of globalized supply chains and trade agreements on local or domestic food systems, livelihoods, and access to food and water. The guidelines do not even recognize that there are planetary boundaries.
  • Secondly, the guidelines do not embrace a holistic food systems lens and do not recognize food systems as a matter of public interest: Therefore, they rarely mention the regulation of trade, of investments and of corporations and fail to give guidance on how to reframe public policies to address power imbalances and safeguard them against conflicts of interest. Likewise, they fail to prioritize those most affected by hunger and malnutrition as rights holders in decision making processes.
  • Third, the guidelines lack a holistic human rights approach: The Guidelines mention the fulfillment of the right to food as objective but they completely depart from the holistic view of human rights as universal, interdependent and A clear example is the omission of the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation. How could we possibly ensure the right to food, without also ensuring the right to water?
  • Furthermore, the guidelines do not promote or protect sustainable healthy diets: The complete missed opportunity to include the concept of sustainable healthy diets and the subsequent failure to adequately and consistently recognize even the link between environmental and human health throughout the document is a main limitation in our view. Critically, the Guidelines undermine the need for regulation and implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent World Health Assembly resolutions and other strategies to end harmful marketing, especially on children.
  • Lastly, the guidelines fail to prioritize local, resilient and agroecological food systems: The guidelines place agroecology on the same level as sustainable intensification and even fail to recommend reducing the use of pesticides. They do not protect or promote local The guidelines therefore fall behind existing CFS policy recommendations such as the ones on connecting smallholders to markets. By mentioning local markets alongside national and international ones throughout the document, there is no guidance on how to address the current discrimination of local markets.

This is the result of our collective assessment in short. We invite you also to read more about our assessment in a background document that we publish together with our positioning document. This document not only explains more in detail the concerns the CSM has regarding the VGFSyN, but it furthermore aims at providing guidance on how to critically engage with the guidelines.

Thank you very much and back to you Hernando.

Hernando Salcedo, FIAN Colombia

Thank you very much Charlotte, we will now give the floor to Gisela Illescas Palma, a peasant member of MAELA, the Agroecological Movement of Latin America and the Caribbean. She has recorded a video from Mexico, as she could not be with us live, given the time zone differences. Here is her video:

Gisela Illescas (video), MAELA México

We, the small-scale farmers, pastoralists, artisanal fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, agricultural workers, landless, women, youth, consumers, and rural populations who suffer from food insecurity, as well as non-governmental organisations that participate in the CSM, are saddened by the adoption of the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition. It is clear that climate, food, and health crises and malnutrition continue to worsen across the world.

The way the Guidelines’ adoption process was carried out was not inclusive. Although all constituencies in the CSM actively participated, the inequality gaps we faced in terms of access to technology and the carrying out of negotiations according to European time zones made our participation very difficult, in addition to the hostile climate that was experienced during the negotiations, especially during the pandemic.

That is why today we want to make a call to raise awareness about the corporate capture of food systems. We saw how during the pandemic local markets were closed. However global food markets have remained open, but we, who are used to varied and seasonal local diets, have had difficulties in selling our products to markets, or even in exchanging or bartering them.

The endorsement of these Guidelines violates our human rights. These Guidelines do not contribute to the transformation of the current dominant food system. For years, thousands of farmers and pastoralists have worked the land – our parents, our grandparents, our ancestors. Our ancestors have sown seeds that today are part of the biodiversity that feeds the world. We now watch with concern how the corporate capture of our food systems increasingly violates our human rights.

We need food systems that are built from a holistic perspective, to recognise that food is a human right and that it should be considered a matter of public interest to everyone. But we do not want a single type of diet, we want a diet based on our identity, on our seeds, on the way we have produced and prepared food. When we sow a seed, we are not only undertaking an agricultural activity. We are also bringing to our memory all the ancestral knowledge about lunar phases and traditional forms of production, storage and food preparation.

We need guidelines that adopt a holistic approach to human rights. One important right is the right to water; we cannot talk about food if at the same time we are not fulfilling the human right to water. Water is not a commodity, water is a public good – it is a good that belongs to everyone and that must also be considered and is considered a human right, but the guidelines do not see it that way.

Another important aspect is how these guidelines emphasise that diets must be healthy, but do not take into account the relationship between health, human wellbeing and Mother Earth. There is an intrinsic relationship between the earth – who feeds us, shelters us, keeps our seed in her bosom – and all of us who work to produce these foods. All of this affects our health.

There is a top-down and bottom-up relationship between health, the people who produce food, and Mother Earth. So, we must follow this approach, a holistic approach. But also resilience and agroecology must be prioritised. And the rights of farmers, women and men, to preserve our seeds, to have our own local diets and our forms of producing, selling, and exchanging foods must be respected.

Hernando Salcedo, FIAN Colombia

Thank you Gisela for this intervention, which was recorded in Mexico. We are now going to listen to Isa Alvarez, the Vice-president of Urgenci, a network that is member of the consumers’ constituency of the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism, and co-coordinator of the CSM Working Group on the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and /nutrition. Go ahead Isa.

Isabel Alvarez: Urgenci

Thanks Hernando. Good morning everyone, or good afternoon. I wanted to begin by thanking all of our colleagues from different constituencies from the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism for taking the time to contribute to this process, and enrich us all with their contributions. Some colleagues have already shared some reflections that we had prepared and I too wanted to share some evidence, before moving on to reflections. And this is because it is sometimes necessary, as we sometimes feel that there are people who are not part of the CSM who do not understand us, in some of the things we say, even though we speak the same language. I wanted to share an example with you, a case that I came to know about personally. This is the case of two women, Maria and her mother. I met Maria, on a trip – I will not say where because it is irrelevant, the story that I am going to share with you could happen anywhere.

These two women were peasants, Maria and her mother, and they were affected by the building of a dam. In Maria’s case, the dam directly affected her house and her land, the land on which she worked, because it was going to be flooded. In the case of her mother, who lived nearby in a different place, she was not even recognised as an affected person because the dam was not going to flood her house. But it was going to affect her because they were going to deviate the river, after which she would lose access to water and therefore to her means of livelihood.

I met Maria at a meeting of peasant movements. They had been fighting and resisting against being evicted from their territory, but in the end they had to leave, together. And when they left – and this is how Maria expressed it – when they had to leave, Maria’s mother started to fade, she used those very words, and after three weeks her mother died.    Her mother was not ill before all of this happened. What she said is that her mother had not been able to stand being taken away from her territory. And she wasn’t able, not because her property was taken from her, but because they removed a ‘vital organ’ from her.

This is where we come from when we speak on behalf of the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism. These are the cases we work with, and this isn’t the only case, there are thousands and thousands of cases like this one throughout the world, North-South, East-West, men and women who are affected by this type of situation. By paying attention to these cases, of course, we understand what we mean, when we refer to the right to water, but we also understand what we mean when we talk about the indivisibility of rights. For instance, in this case, where do we start? What right comes first? The right to water, the right to life, the right to health … we can no longer separate one thing from another, right? When we talk about the need for a holistic outlook and a comprehensive approach, this is what we mean. Apart from sharing this case with you, and adding to what other colleagues have already shared, well, I think you can see that we are not happy. As Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism, we always saw this process of Guidelines as an opportunity for the much-need transformation of food systems and of situations of hunger and malnutrition that people suffer from around the world.

People from our constituencies experience grave situations every day. I have already shared an example with you of lack of food security and rights violations. We are victims of multiple types of violence, from physical violence (many colleagues have died and continue to be murdered for defending the rights of all), to more structural violence that renders us invisible, disregards us and evicts us from our territories. These situations do not allow us to make time for vague documents, for Guidelines drafted with circumstantial evidence, or for documents and processes that lack ambition.

We are experiencing an urgency that has become all the more evident over the last year, which makes us demand suitable responses from states. That is not the case with these guidelines. During our assessment process, CSM constituencies decided that we cannot legitimise the process nor the contents of the Guidelines because, far from transforming the current model, they help to maintain it. And we already know that this model has led us to the climate and social crisis, which we currently face. This model aims to prioritise corporate interests of agro-exports and the privileges of a few over the rights of all. In addition, these Guidelines are very different content-wise from the outcomes of regional consultations, in which sustainability and agroecology were clearly discussed. We also ask ourselves: how do those who promoted and financed these consultations with citizens’ public money assess this document?

We have highlighted on numerous occasions, and again today, the lack of inclusiveness throughout this process. Although we recognise how challenging the pandemic was, along with the online version that we all had to accept, we do not believe that the necessary steps were taken since May 2020 to resolve this issue adequately and with good will.

For all these reasons, as Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism, we have decided NOT to endorse the Voluntary Guidelines for food systems and nutrition. We have taken this decision after an inclusive process of consultation with our constituencies and collectively carrying out the analyses already shared with you. We say NO, after listening to our peoples and to the evidence that shows us that this is not the path to take. Scientific evidence says it, just as mother earth yells at us, biodiversity yells at us, and our peoples lacking rights yell at us.

In addition, we took this decision believing that by doing so we could contribute to defending the CFS. We understand that the CFS is the space that must respond to the challenges of food security. We understood that after the evaluation carried out a few years ago, this process was an opportunity to demonstrate ambition and what the CFS should be about. That is why we believe that saying NO contributes to demonstrating that this is not the way, and to acknowledge areas of

improvement for future processes. As many of you already know, to build collectively does not always mean saying yes. Sometimes you have to say NO to be coherent with what we believe in, and to be able to continue building together.

We finish by saying that, despite the position we take, it is important to share that this process has nevertheless been fruitful. As CSM, it has helped us to develop our own vision on food systems and nutrition, which we have encapsulated in a vision document that will be our guide in the type of transformation that we really believe is possible and essential.

Also, saying NO does not mean that we will not meet you on the path to implementation. As CSM, we will always fulfil the role of following up and monitoring policies. It is our job as CSM constituencies and as peoples.

Undoubtedly, we must face these very important challenges together. There are still some very pertinent policy processes open at the CFS in which we really hope to be able to build the answers we need together with you, answers that meet the challenges as is expected of the CFS mandate.

You will find us, at every stage, defending human rights, agroecology, equity, respect for people and for the planet, to guarantee objectives of public interest that serve our health, our environments, our cultures and our territories.

Thank you.

Hernando Salcedo: FIAN Colombia

Thank you very much, Isa, for that intervention that explicitly shines light on the depth from which we speak at the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism.

Before opening the floor to questions, I would like to point out that Gisela’s video will be available online on the CSM’s webpage. The documents that have been uploaded to the chat box will also be made available on the webpage; these include our assessment, position, and also the CSM vision document on the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition. The documents are both in the chat box, and on our webpage.

I want to invite you all to ask questions. The floor is now open. You can raise your hand on the Zoom function or write the question in the chat box. We will give the floor to those who want to answer on behalf of the CSM. The floor is open for questions. I still do not see any questions. So if anyone wants to intervene directly, they can raise their hand.

I don’t know if anyone from the Working Group wants to speak whilst there are no questions. Our interventions were carried out as planned. I repeat that the floor is open for interventions and questions.

I will now give the floor to the representative of Senegal, Baye Mayoro Diop, you have the floor.

Baye Mayoro Diop: Representative of the Senegalese delegation to the Rome-based agencies

Hello Hernando. First of all, thank you for the invitation and for the excellent contributions and interventions, with which I fully agree. I think that Charlotte and Hamadi have correctly pointed out the weaknesses of the Voluntary Guidelines that we recently adopted. They also recalled the positive points that there were in these guidelines, on which further improvement could be based. I think that is all that’s left to build on.

In any case, I think that the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism and all the countries that care about sustainable development and sustainability, have to continue their efforts so that in future negotiations – for example on agroecology or any other document, in other venues – we can improve the weak points of these guidelines.

In this regard, actually, the question I would like to ask is whether, regarding monitoring, there are any actions to be taken, at least by civil society? What are, in your opinion, the relevant actions that should be taken to be on the lookout, in order to improve the situation. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.

Hernando Salcedo: FIAN Colombia 

Thank you to the Senegalese delegate. We would like to take advantage of this intervention to thank all member states for their cooperation and dialogue when the CSM intervened or when they supported civil society’s proposals. This is an occasion to do so. Would anyone from the CSM like to answer to this question about follow-up to this process and types of monitoring by civil society. Perhaps Sofia Monsalve or Isa?

Isabel Alvarez, Urgenci

Yes, thank you for the question. I’d also like to extend my gratitude, as you have just expressed. I think it is fair to say that there were also states who supported our positions. And I also think that it is fair to thank them for their support. Regarding the question, well, we will be monitoring the actions that states take. As mentioned before, we have developed our vision document, which goes well beyond what the Guidelines propose, and for us developing these actions will be our priority. Of course, at local level, if our states carry out actions, we will be there to monitor. But for the time being, with regard to these Guidelines, we do not have any proposals for concrete actions. We will carry out actions, we will invest our energies, of course, in monitoring what states do at the local level, but above all, in developing actions that really do transform food systems. We understand that the guidelines should have been ambitious, and they should have become objectives, and not the bare minimum. Which is why so many members among our constituencies are disappointed. So, I am not sure if I have been clear: we do not have any concrete action on these guidelines. Our priority is primarily to disseminate and develop our vision document, and, of course, to monitor the actions that our governments may develop.

Hernando Salcedo, FIAN Colombia

Thank you Isa, yes, just to add to what you said, the vision document is available on the CSM webpage. You can also see it in the chat box.  In that vision document we share our perspective and our view on monitoring and actions from now on. It’s important to say that. I now give the floor to Patti Rundall from IBFAN, who has a question. Go ahead Patti.

Patti Rundall, IBFAN

Thanks, it’s been very interesting to take part in this process.

And I watch also the WHO process and Codex processes. And so IBFAN has played a big role in the development of, you know, resolutions and standards, all to do with food, the trade of food and harmful marketing and trying to stop harmful marketing. And it’s been fascinating to watch this process and very disappointing, actually really seriously disappointing, to see how the really marvelous proposals from the CSM were brushed aside so often.

And I take a view looking at the growth of the multi stakeholder way of approaching policy setting. And this process with the voluntary guidelines seems to be rather a shameful example that is not going to serve the idea or the notion that you can solve these problems through a multi stakeholder process. From where I’m standing it isn’t respecting the civil society members at all. It’s using part of what they’re doing and putting it in, and then actually undermining it always with caveats that actually render most of the good things unworkable and very confusing to policymakers. So on the area that I know best, the infant feeding, it is simply appalling, I cannot understand how anyone could let that go through it was simply terrible, to actually undo 40 years of work in building good resolutions that would protect mothers, children and families from harmful marketing, suddenly thrown out and gone back to 1981, with the very important Code, that really none of the resolutions and none of the recognition that this marketing needs to be regulated, nothing in there on that.

So for me, it’s very extraordinary, that the members of this group should actually allow this to go through when it doesn’t reflect even important resolutions and important other documents that really will protect health and environment and everything else. So I just am intrigued that this could have gone through as it was so rushed, and without any really recourse to what not even Member states were saying, from the very beginning it got weaker and weaker and weaker. So I find that very, very worrying. And I I really think people should look at it and say, “how is this going to pan out in the future”? Will the corporations use the section on the Code, for example, and say that they’re now compliant with the voluntary guidelines? I mean, this would be a disaster and member states will be worried, they’ll take money from them, they’ll think they’re in compliance when they’re not. And corporations are very, very skilled at this in misleading people about what actually the Code and the resolutions and all these other documents and human rights documents mean.

So I leave it there but I’d love somebody to answer why this was passed so speedily without any translation, that final part of that that section. There was not even translation. I couldn’t believe it that that should just go to so quickly. Thank you.

Hernando Salcedo, FIAN Colombia

Thank you Patti. We have a few minutes left. I give the floor to Damian who is here on behalf of the European Union. Please, go ahead.

Damien Kelly, Representative of the EU delegation to the Rome-based agencies

Thank you, Hernando and thanks to CSM and all the speakers for this important event, and I think it’s really important that CSM has taken the initiative to explain very precisely your position following much analysis that you’ve invested in the process itself and now in evaluating the outcome. And naturally, from our side, it will take further analysis to develop an official position.

But I just wanted to take the floor first of all to voice my appreciation for this event. When we reflect, we know that the voluntary guidelines were an ambitious project and they cover a huge vast area, something that wasn’t attempted before. So there was a lot of ambition for the process. And then as you have rightly said, there were many challenges including COVID and so on and other challenges that you have pointed to. And we have to all consider that and take it on board.

And just to say that from my sphere, there was absolute respect for the positions of CSM and an appreciation for their voice and investment. And all of the, I would say, listening that that happened on both sides and fully appreciate that the conclusion of CSM was that that wasn’t enough, and that is very much respected.

And naturally, there will be disappointment with the analysis of CSM as there was during the process. And I guess that reflects on the bigger picture of CFS, and whether this is a departure from the norms that we have experienced in CFS, with the launching of products since the reform, and what this means for CFS and what this means for the voluntary guidelines.

But I think it is very important that CSM is so involved and as we go forward into advocacy around the product and the conversations that it’s stirring up, and the monitoring that will follow through thematic events and so on.

So there’s a lot to be said, the conversation hasn’t finished at all. And that aspect is really important to consider that, you know the future consideration of the whole topic. So it’s really encouraging to see the momentum that CSM has despite the obvious criticisms on the topic, and it’s clear that the conversation hasn’t finished at all. Maybe this is just the beginning of something positive. And I think that healthy criticism is very welcome and very important in fact, and as Senegal said, noting also the positives, I think as Hernando said, and that’s something that we can really work on, despite the caveats as he said.

Yeah, just to say that, you know, please be assured of the interest in CSM’s positions during the negotiations. And you know, as was rightly said, you know, various parties did support CSM, but understanding that the analysis that that was felt to be insufficient, and that’s that’s appreciated.

And just noting the large attendance here now. There were over 80 people attending at one stage, you know, so that attention to the message of CSM is still obviously very alive. And it’s good to see a very active conversation. And that has been referred to, you know, as essential to the multi stakeholder platform that CFS is, and we need to keep that alive. As Isa pointed out, it’s really positive to see the vision document and I’m looking forward to analyzing that. I think that’s a very constructive start to the conversation as we go forward. Despite all the constraints and the process and the constructive criticism. So that’s something very tangible to work on. Yeah, I think it’s interesting. We can reflect on CFS into the future and this may be as part of that debate. And maybe it’s reflective on on how we can all collectively improve CFS in the future. And that’s really important. And as we go forward…and I think the main thing is that we collectively improve food security and nutrition for all and that goes beyond any one document. Thanks very much.

Hernando Salcedo: FIAN Colombia

Thank you Damian. This opens a door. And as CSM we will make one more comment before giving the floor to Mali and to France. Sofia, did you want to take the floor.

Sofia Monsalve: FIAN Internacional

Yes, thank you very much and a very good morning, good afternoon to all, we are truly very pleased with your presence and with this conversation.

Damian, you have raised an issue about what our position means, what it means to express our great disappointment with the Guidelines so clearly, and to say that we cannot support this document as it is.

What does that mean for the CFS? And I think Isa put it very well: when we are in democratic spaces that really believe in democracy and respect differences of opinion, sometimes one has to accept a NO.

And it is precisely because we believe in that democratic spirit of the CFS that we do so. So from our point of view, what it does is strengthen the CFS, because we have an institutional space in the United Nations, where – through the constituencies that we represent – we can really bring their visions and express them, without coercion and without any type of blackmail. That is a very important message. And seen from a more macro-perspective, if you will, what this does is strengthen the CFS.

Now we have said it. And you also say that the conversation is just beginning, that is true, it is an issue that is still relevant. The international agenda is now practically dominated by this issue: food systems, processing… We cannot evade that conversation. But we are going to follow it in a critical way. We will continue to raise the issues that we raised during the negotiations, the criticisms that we have. We will continue to advocate the views that we think are correct. We will monitor what states and United Nations agencies do with the guidelines, and we will obviously follow this critical conversation. So that is our perspective. And we will keep talking, we will keep interacting. That is how we will do it.

Thank you.

Hernando Salcedo: FIAN Colombia 

Thank you Sofia for that firm answer, which opens another door. I now give the floor to Switzerland, to Bruce. Please go ahead.

Bruce Campbell: Representative of the Swiss delegation to the Rome-based agencies

Yes, thank very much Hernando. Good morning. Good afternoon, whatever, everybody… And yes, very much coming in a similar mood and feeling to that of my colleague Damian from the EU. I would certainly like to thank the CSM for making this event today possible and also take the time to carefully explain their position. And in all, this is not a step that CSM has taken lightly. And I remember it was with extreme deliberation that you did plan to leave the negotiation in its later stages. Also knowing that CSM has invested massively in this process and contributed extremely to what goodness is already in the document. Now, we Switzerland also feel that these voluntary guidelines fall behind their potential and we’re also disappointed not to achieve a more progressive document in the end. Now, obviously, the question is: is the world a better place with or without these guidelines? On balance, we feel probably so and we look forward to the coming processes to the Food System Summit and then especially beyond to reach a better, more equitable outcome for the environment, but also for humankind, for food producers. And especially for those at the margins of society and economic systems.

But in terms of a better place, the world will be a better place if CSM continues their engagement, brings their know-how, the voice of the marginalized and the moral compass that have been very important in this negotiation, to future processes and that’s something we would certainly look forward to. Thanks.

Hernando Salcedo, FIAN Colombia

Thank you Bruce. I think there is a possibility here for the learnt lessons to have a repercussion on upcoming negotiations, such as the ones on agroecology guidelines. I now give the floor to the Malian delegate. Please go ahead.

Halimatou Traore, Representative of the Malian delegation to the Rome-based agencies

Thanks, hello everyone. I will go very quickly. I thank the CSM for this session. I think this session was necessary, it allowed us to learn lessons. And it must allow the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism to position itself for future negotiations. I agree with Hamadi, my fellow countryman. To be brief, I will say that apart from these Guidelines, which have only spilled a lot of ink with a lot of discontent, I would like to know how the CSM intends to go about disseminating CFS documents. Thank you.

Hernando Salcedo, FIAN Colombia

Thank you to the delegate from Mali. Perhaps somebody from the CSM would like to answer? Before I give the floor to France, the Malian delegate has asked us about future products, but in any case, I would say that our vision document is the reference point against which we will monitor and move forward with actions within the CSM. It is available online. For now what we have is an outlook, an objective, rather than concrete actions.

I now give the floor to France. And I thank the interpreters for staying with us another five minutes so that we can finish, even though we have gone overtime. Thank you. The delegate of France, Delphine, has the floor.

Delphine Babin-Pelliard, Representative of the French delegation to the Rome-based agencies

Thank you very much and good morning to everyone. I will also be brief, and I thank the interpreters for staying so that I can speak in French. First of all, I wanted to warmly thank the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism for this meeting ,which is indeed, as my colleagues have said, very important to fully understand what led the CSM to take this position. So thank you for clearly expressing your positions, which we note and understand.

We understand your disappointment, we understand your positions on certain aspects and of course this position saddens us deeply because I think it is important to restate it, once again, that the CFS without the CSM, without civil society, is not the CFS. And we need all actors so that the CFS can exist, be dynamic, be alive, and lead to ambitious guidelines. So, of course, maintaining the status quo as you have stated is not what France wants from the guidelines either. Now, I think we have to look ahead, both in everything that concerns the implementation of these guidelines, in favour of the people who are most in need, to improve world food security, and I think we all have a role, to best implement these guidelines, and beyond. And also to share a positive message for the future, for the negotiations on agroecology, which are underway and must enable us to achieve everyone’s objectives, in as constructive an atmosphere as possible, as has already been the case since the start of the negotiations. And I’d like to reiterate that France is on the side of all those who are prepared to make the current text an ambitious one. So let us look into the future, let us all be constructive. I think this is extremely important for the CFS, and we are lucky to have this CFS, which exists with all of its actors. This is a great wealth, so let us preserve this wealth. Thank you so much.

Hernando Salcedo, FIAN Colombia

Thank you Delphine. From the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism we would now like to close this space by saying that our path ahead is guided by our vision document, but also by products from the Committee on World Food Security that adhere to the CFS’s real mandate, which is what we wish to insist on. The CFS’s function, and its mandate, is what drive us as Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism. With this we close this meeting. We do not respond to a capital, but rather to all peoples, regions, and countries that we represent in terms of people suffering from hunger, and small-scale producers. That is our commitment, and is also the commitment made under the CFS mandate.

I’d like to thank you for your presence here today, and thank you to the interpreters. I wish you a pleasant week, and I invite you all to take a look at the documents on our webpage. Many thanks.


Thank you, thanks to the interpreters !

Merci !

Muchas gracias !

Learn more about the CSM’s position on the CFS Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition


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