The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) convened a half-day public event on 22 November 2022 regarding its workstream on Reducing Inequalities for Food Security and Nutrition. Convened in hybrid modality, the event was open to all CFS interested parties and relevant institutions, including Members, UN bodies, civil society and private sector organizations, international financial and agricultural research institutions.

Saima Zia, women secretary of the Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee, member of La Via Campesina, and member of the CSIPM Coordination Committee facilitated the participation of the smallholders and family farmers constituency and presented the collective statement prepared with inputs from the CSIPM Inequalities Working Group.

Hello. My name is Saima Zia. I am a representative of the Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee and the international peasant movement La Via Campesina.   

The CSIPM would like to thank the CFS Chair and the CFS Secretariat for convening this event on reducing inequalities. The CFS must continue listening to the voices of those most affected by food insecurity and malnutrition.

However, it’s not enough for Member States to simply hear what we have to say. Multilateral and concrete policy action is urgently needed in response to our proposals and demands.    

The HLPE has made it abundantly clear to the CFS that the statu quo is no longer an option. Realizing the right to food requires critical policy shifts and a radical transformation of food systems focused primarily on equity and sustainability. 

Today, we want to underscore why intersectionality is fundamental to consider when developing policy approaches and finding entry points to reduce and eliminate inequalities.

Inequalities within and beyond the food system have been an integral part of colonial domination of capitalism. The growing corporate concentration, increasing debt, tax evasion, austerity measures and dependency on food imports are a testimony of this colonial system prone to crises. With the lingering consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine there is little to no room for countries to cope with increasing food and fuel prices, volatile commodity markets, and financial speculation. 

The devastating impacts of COVID-19, the destructive consequences that climate change is having on the most vulnerable communities in my country and all around the world, are closely linked to the economic, social, and environmental injustices provoked by neoliberal policies and a food system based on intensive, export-oriented agricultural production, global supply chains, and market-led food provision. 

During the COVID-19 crisis, communities’ responses have fostered values of solidarity, resilience, sustainability, and human dignity. However, government policies and financial support have mostly favored corporations, large producers, and global supply chains, ensuring them the capital and work-force they need to keep operations running. This came at the expense of local food systems, creating hardships and deepening food insecurity.

Intersectionality requires us to adopt a particular approach and consider the different ways in which the current food system systematically disadvantages, impoverishes, and marginalizes women and gender-diverse people, youth, indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, older workers, migrants, refugees, racialized people, people who live and work in rural areas and other such groups.

We would also like to point out that many measures and policies already exist to reduce inequalities. The VGGTs (Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenures) and the UNDROP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas) and the UNDRIP (United National Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People) are examples of inclusive, intersectional and human rights-based policies and tangible demands from the peasant movement, the agricultural workers, fisherfolk and pastoralists. 

But until recently they have not been brought together in an intersectional manner at the global policy level. The workstream on inequalities offers us the opportunity to create coherence between all the CFS Policy instruments, especially seeking complementarities with the workstreams on Gender and Youth. 

Other UN Agencies have also delivered valuable work on reducing inequalities. The UNRISD Flagship report on reducing inequalities which came out at the beginning of November points out that the current crisis is not a flaw in the system but a feature of it. We can’t just green the system with ad hoc policies, we need large-scale systemic change with a paradigm shift. 

The CSIPM strongly advocates for universal social protection policies to support families and communities who face the increase in prices and which truly address inequalities. Social and solidarity economies can address many of the symptoms and root causes of our failing food system. 

We are not speaking about utopic or unfeasible measures, there are already existing examples of policy frameworks that are human rights-based, equitable, and based on social justice, they just need upscaling, support, and overall implementation. 

Think about the Bolsa Familia introduced in Brazil in 2007, a food safety basic income. Built on linking local agroecological and organic small-scale localized food production for school meals and a strong Ministry for solidarity economy as well as a Ministry for small-holder farmers. Proved to ensure an intersectional approach to the right to food, including both Indigenous producers and consumers. 

Several CSO groups in Europe and beyond are today calling for measures of food social protection. Because it makes sense, if peasants and rural workers receive decent pay and earn an acceptable living wage, they can then afford to buy healthy food, pay their energy bills, access their workplaces, be less forced to leave rural areas, and become part of the urban poor. 

Next to measures of social and solidarity economies, we need to redistribute power. Which means putting a halt to harmful policies and practices.  This is the third food price crisis in 15 years. It goes to show how fragile global food markets are, and how prices are largely determined by unsustainable demand, dependence on, and concentration of power in the global supply chains. 

Conclusion 

Tackling inequalities requires making political and ethical decisions now and in the future, and we strongly hope that the HLPE report by itself, and through the subsequent CFS Policy Convergence process, can significantly contribute to overcoming Inequalities for Food Justice and Healthy, Sustainable Food Systems.

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