In this issue:

1. CFS Updates

2. Updates on the independent process to challenge the UN Food Systems Summit

3. CSM Internal Updates

CFS 47th Plenary Session 

The CFS 47th virtual Plenary Session took place from 8 to 11 of February 2021. It was an intense week for CSM participating organizations and constituencies, as the challenges to ensure a full and meaningful participation and inclusiveness in the virtual setting are far from being fully understood, addressed and solved, one year into the pandemic.

CSM Working Groups made a great effort to convene to the Plenary their key messages, mainly around the urgent need for a CFS global policy response to COVID-19, the deep concerns related to the Food Systems Summit, the urgent need for better applying the Framework for Action in Protracted Crises, support to an ambitious mandate for the CFS process on Gender equality and women’s empowerment, and expressing strong reservations towards the recently negotiated CFS Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition.

The recently adopted CFS Voluntary Guidelines (VGFSyN)

The CSM Food Systems and Nutrition’s Working Group made clear during Plenary that was profoundly disappointed by the process of negotiation of the Guidelines, which lacked a balanced approach and facilitation, meaningful inclusiveness and a clear methodology for the policy convergence process itself. CSM also expressed its strong reservation on the final content of the text and the endorsement of the Guidelines, requesting the CFS Plenary to officially report CSM reservations in the CFS 47th Final Report.

CSM is therefore currently engaged, as announced during the Plenary Session, in a comprehensive process of internal consultations to reach a final decision about supporting or not the endorsement of the Voluntary Guidelines, as there was not sufficient time to properly assess the final text of the Guidelines, which was only available in all languages five days prior to its adoption in the CFS Plenary Session.

The deep disappointment of CSM constituencies, despite the huge energies and commitment spent on the process in the last five years, it is not only linked to the process but also to the content of the Guidelines themselves, as they fail to integrate key CSM priorities. These include, among others: a) the absence of human rights as the central pillar of food systems’ transformation and the specific omission of the right to safe drinking water and sanitation; b) the lack of recommendations on the reduction of pesticides and dangerous agrochemicals; c) the dilution of the importance and integrity of agroecology, carrying the risk to to narrowing the scope and ambition of the upcoming policy negotiations on Agroecological and other innovative approaches; d) the lack of recognition of  territorial markets and local food systems as crucial economic spaces for sustainable food systems; e) lack of clear identification of the harm caused by misleading marketing and inappropriate funding of nutrition interventions; f)  the document does not recognize the roles of industrial agriculture and food production in precipitating the climate crisis, the ecological destruction and related pandemics.

The VGFSyN have walked away from the recognition of the multiple public objectives  of food systems: the regulation of trade, investment and corporations to ensure public interest is almost non-existent in the document; clear guidance for recalibrating public policies towards addressing power imbalances in society and conflicts of interest is missing; and the Guidelines are generally weak when it comes to strengthening local and resilient food systems based on agroecology, and the communal and public economy upon which local and national food systems heavily rely, especially in these times of the pandemic.

Located in the CFS, the VGFSyN should and could have been a “trailblazer” in terms of both, content and process, drawing from the report of the High-Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) and showing what inclusive multilateralism could mean in practice for the radical transformation of unsustainable food systems.

Follow-up on the CFS Policy Response to COVID-19, CSM Side Event and Policy Briefing

The CSM Global Food Governance, and especially CSM Youth voices, strongly demanded CFS for a global policy response to COVID-19. A year after the rise of the pandemic, these demands from the ground remained mostly unanswered and ignored. Despite the CFS Chair’s prompt initiatives around the topic, the substantial HLPE work, the opportunities existing on the CFS workplan and the strong demand from the African Regional group, some CFS Members objected and made the CFS failing in fully assuming the responsibility of an urgent coordinated and coherent global policy response to COVID-19, while millions are going hungry and the dramatic consequences of this crisis are increasing inequalities, discrimination, human rights violations, including through further shrinking of democratic spaces and criminalization all over the world.

CFS was reformed because of a global crisis, and therefore is fully equipped to respond to this one, after 10 years of incredible work and experience in the global food governance architecture. The African regional group was able to ensure, supported by the CSM and Spain, that some commitment could be ultimately reflected in the decision box of the CFS plan of work (MYPoW). The CFS 47 Decision box could be amended by the following paragraph which at least opens a way for developing a meaningful policy response: “The Committee (…) requested continued deliberation on, and due attention to, the impacts of COVID-19 on food systems, agriculture and nutrition at all stages of the implementation of the approved MYPoW’s workstreams”.

CSM efforts to prioritize this policy demand will continue in the upcoming period. Please find here all CSM relevant contributions on COVID-19 and here the CSM Plenary Statements on the topic.

Find here and below the recording of the CSM Side event co-organized with IPES-Food, Spain, Cabo Verde and the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Michael Fahkri “Developing effective Policy Responses to COVID-19. What is needed and what is the role of the CFS?”

Adoption of the ToRs for the CFS Voluntary Guidelines on Gender equality and Women and Girl’s Empowerment 

The CFS 47th Plenary Session has adopted the Terms of Reference for the upcoming process towards Guidelines on Gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment in the context of food security and nutrition. The Terms of Reference describe the rationale, objective, scope and steps of the policy convergence process. The CSM Women’s Working Group welcomed their adoption during its plenary Statement, also expressing high expectations towards an ambitious policy process.

As the CFS Plenary concluded, the CFS work resumed towards the drafting of a zero draft of the Guidelines. A senior consultant has been hired by the CFS Secretariat to start the drafting, and an open and inclusive gender experts’ meeting is expected to take place in the upcoming period to support the inputs related to the objectives of the Guidelines, as no HLPE Report was requested for this policy process. All CFS participants were called to nominate experts. The selection of them, as well as the process and format of the meeting are still to be communicated. The zero draft of the Guidelines is expected to be released in May, discussed in an OEWG meeting on 25 May and then be sent out for inputs to the CFS regional consultations from July to October 2021. Subsequently an electronic consultation will take place to conclude this part of the process, and all inputs received will shape the content of the first draft for negotiation.

The CSM Women’s working group is starting to prepare its own engagement. If you are willing to join the CSM Women’s WG, please write to the CSM Secretariat!

CSM Independent Monitoring Report and Global Thematic Event on the Framework for Action on Protracted Crises (FFA)

FFA FOn 9 February 2021, the CFS 47 Plenary Session held its third Global Thematic Event to monitor, in this occasion, the use and application of the Framework for Action in Protracted Crisis. The CSM actively engaged in all the preparation process and presented to the CFS Plenary the findings of its independent monitoring report (here also available in the following languages: ES | FR | AR).

CSM interventions during the Plenary Session recalled that the FFA uniqueness relays on its focus on addressing and preventing the root causes behind protracted crises, food insecurity and malnutrition. Equally important is the fact that the FFA recognises that resilience-building must increase people’s ability to prevent crises, not only to prepare for them, understand them and adapt to them. Member states were encouraged by CSM interventions, to create multi-actor platforms at national and regional level to foster the use, application and monitoring of the FFA implementation, and invited CFS to establish synergies and partnerships with other platforms to foster such use and implementation also at global level.

The CFS decision box on this Plenary session also included CSM demands for an enhanced dissemination, use and application of the FFA, as well as the commitment for enhanced collaboration of members states, Rome-based agencies, other UN agencies, CFS constituencies towards joint and coordinated implementation plans.

More detailed recommendations to CFS members and participants in the CSM Report!

🏭 CSM Letter to the CFS Chair on the Food Systems Summit

Devex article

The CFS 47th Plenary Session did not guarantee a dedicated and substantial space of debate on the upcoming Food Systems Summit (FSS) and the related CFS engagement. Nevertheless, many of CFS debates during the plenary week referred to the Summit, indicating the need to address some of its critical aspects. Moreover, the two most recent policy processes in the CFS, the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition and the upcoming Policy process on Agroecological and other innovative approaches are expected to feed the Summit’s elaboration.

Prior to the CFS 47th Plenary Session the Summit’s secretariat decided to invite the CFS Chair to join the Advisory Committee, the CSM and PSM to join the action tracks and the HLPE to join the scientific committee.

The CSM has repeatedly expressed it deep concerns about the Summit process and direction, stating that it would not jump on a train going in the wrong direction. On 9 February a CSM letter to the CFS Chair addressing its reasons, concerns and terms of engagement was published undersigned by its Coordination Committee, and currently signed by a total of 205 organizations.

CFS Advisory Group and Bureau meetings

The CFS Advisory Group and Bureau meeting held on 4 March assessed the CFS 47th Plenary session, started looking into the agenda of the extraordinary one-day Plenary Session on June 4 expected to adopt the CFS Policy Recommendations on Agroecological and other innovative approaches. Some governments, supported by CSM, tried to ensure that a dedicated moment of debate on COVID-19, could be confirmed during the CFS 48th extraordinary Plenary Session of June, as a response to the agreement endorsed by the plenary in February to continue its deliberation on COVID-19. Unfortunately, according to the CFS Bureau Outcomes also this attempt has failed. CSM contributions to the meeting are available here!
The latest CFS Advisory Group and Bureau meeting took place today, 6 April 2021 and will reported upon in the next issue of this newsletter.

Upcoming CFS policy convergence process on Agroecological and other innovative approaches


The negotiations for the policy recommendations on Agroecological and other innovative approaches started at end of March and are expected to be endorsed by the extraordinary one-day CFS 48th Plenary Session on 4 June 2021. This highly controversial process foresees two rounds of negotiations: the first took place on 29-31 March 2021 and the second on 4-7 and 10 of May 2021. In order to address and debate the methodology of the virtual negotiations the Rapporteur, Ambassador Yaya Adisa Olaitan Olaniran (Nigeria), convened an open meeting on 25 February 2021. During the meeting it was agreed that no night-sessions would be taking place and that the negotiations would first focus on the recommendations and then come back to the preamble. The CSM Working Group has finalized its contributions and key priorities and organised a public briefing on 25 March to share their key priorities and messages towards the process.

HLPE E-consultation on the scope of the Report on Data analysis and tools


The HLPE has launched its e-consultation on the scope of the Report on data analysis and tools for food security and nutrition, expected to be launched in 2022. The deadline for submissions was 21 March 2021. The report, which will provide recommendations to the CFS workstream, will: a) identify the barriers impeding quality data collection, analysis, and use in decision-making; b) identify specific high priority gaps in data production and analysis not covered by ongoing initiatives; c) highlight the benefits of using data and the opportunity costs of not using data for decisions; d) illustrate initiatives that have encouraged evidence-based decisions in agriculture and food security across the public, private, and academic sectors as well as approaches that have not worked; e) provide insights into how to ensure data collection and its utilization give voice to the people most affected by policies stemming from that data, including farmers and other food producers. Please find here CSM collective contribution to the e-consultation. Moreover, find more information on the new CSM working group on data in the final sections of the Update.

Updates on the alternative Process to the UN Food Systems Summit

The CSM has been integral part of the independent process to challenge the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) since the Open Call of Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ organizations was launched in October 2020. Since then, the number of international, regional and national organizations from inside and outside CSM who have actively joined this independent process has steadily increased. The first global calls were held in December 2020, and thematic calls on National Dialogues, International Advocacy and Corporate Capture were organized in early February. The CSM Coordination Committee agreed to draft a Letter to the CFS Chair on the Food Systems Summit which was then launched on 9 February in occasion of the CFS 47 Plenary. In the weeks after, more than 200 international, regional, national and local organizations signed this Letter. The CFS Chair took initiative for arranging a dialogue about the Letter between the UNFSS leadership and the CSM Liaison Group which was held on 24 March 2021. Unfortunately, the conversation made it very clear that the main concerns of CSM Letter on Food System Summit remain without adequate response. The independent Process and the CSM Coordination have therefore agreed to organize counter-events to the Pre-Summit which will be organized in Rome from 19-21 July. More information can be found on the dedicated CSM Web page.

Challenging the UN Food Systems in the media

Follow hashtag #FoodSystems4People on Twitter

📢 CSM internal updates 

New Working Group on Data

The CSM is launching a call to join the new policy working group on Data. This Working group will be in charge of preparing CSM contents, elaboration, analysis, vision and demands towards the CFS Policy process on Data collection and analysis tools for food security and nutrition, expected to take place in 2022. In order to join the working group, please write to the CSM Secretariat at cso4cfs [at] gmail [dot] com.

New CC members from the Southern-Cone, Andean Region, Central America and Caribbean

The Coordination Committee’s renewal process in the sub-regions of Southern-Cone, Andean Region and Central America and Caribbean was concluded in January 2021 and the CSM welcomes the new Coordination Committee (CC) members appointed:

  • Perla Álvarez Benitez (Conamuri – CLOC), Southern-Cone
  • Miriency Gónzalez (MAELA) – Andean Region
  • Taina Hedman and “Mani” Jorge Stanley Icaza (IITC) – Central America and Caribbean

We would like to wish good work to the new CC members and express our warm gratitude to the outgoing CC members of the region, Rodolfo Gonzalez Greco, Antonio Gonzalez and Gabriela Cruz, for their commitment and engagement in the past 4 years!

The Renewal process of the CSM Coordination Committee for the period October 2021-October 2023 will be conducted between April and July 2021. More information in these processes will be shared by the Constituency and Subregional facilitators within the next weeks.

After one year of the Pandemic: how can we keep being together? A reflection

Recently, the CSM Coordination Committee held a reflection about how we can continue working after one year of the pandemic, and within a horizon of a situation that will prevail for most if not all the year 2021. One year ago, the CC came together to completely reprioritize the work of CSM, pushing to slow down processes in CFS and rather devoting energy to bringing together the experiences and analyses from the territories, and the policy demands for responding to the multiple simultaneous crises on all levels, including the global level in CFS. The CSM constituencies’ reports of last year and the persistent calls for a CFS-led Global Policy Response to Covid-19 have been important steps since. Given the lack of responsibility of some member states and actors in the CFS, this push will need to be continued this year, together with the key member states and actors who have strongly requested the CFS to play a leading role in a multilateral and coordinated policy to the hunger crises that has been, and will be further, exacerbated by the pandemic.

On the internal side, we have seen as well that most social movements, indigenous peoples, grassroots organizations have been strongly engaged in responding to the new emergencies on community and national level. This includes not only the direct impacts of the pandemic, but relates to many dimensions: brutal repression and authoritarianism on the rise in many countries, shrinking space for civil society organizations, a heavy increase of violence against women and girls, structural discrimination, racism, sexism, spiking inequalities and systematic human rights violations, as it is becoming evident in the distribution and application of vaccines.

In this context, people have less time and energy for the global level, which also requires an even stronger prioritization. Technological gaps are affecting the work within the CSM, given that poor internet connectivity and power cuts are much more common in some regions than in others. Several calls in the CSM revealed that many people feel overwhelmed and tired when facing the multiple urgencies and worrying developments on many fronts, without seeing much of hope on the horizon. In this situation, we need to strengthen our interconnectedness, our spirit and practice of solidarity and interrelatedness within the global space of the CSM. Therefore, the CSM Coordination Committee agreed to devote more time and energy to our internal community, through more exchange and consultations on the regional and constituency levels, for being together in these weird times where different worlds seem of feel apart, and for connecting our thoughts, struggles and hopes as much as possible for our common visions.

CSM Website redesign 

The time has come for a revamp of the CSM website. Please help us improve its design and structure by sharing with us your feedback and suggestions. We have prepared a short, anonymous questionnaire which we would be most grateful if you could fill before Monday 12 April.

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