In 2021, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), the UN System’s highest body for discussing global food policy, initiated a workstream on data: Data collection and analysis tools for food security and nutrition. 

This is an urgent invitation to join the Data Working Group of the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism to learn together about the digitalization of our entire food system from production to consumption; to discuss how this CFS policy convergence process could impact our constituencies, our communities, and our future right to food; to share alternatives and stories from our territories, and to challenge the terms of a debate that has been set mainly by digital technology corporations. 

The purpose of this workstream is to fill digital information gaps on hunger, food insecurity, nutrition, and global food production, and has initiated a process to outline policy recommendations to support digital data collection, increase analysis capacities, integrate repositories, and secure funding.

As a starting point, the CFS asked the High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) to prepare a report on the current state of tools and technologies for data collection and analysis and to formulate recommendations on this topic with respect to food systems. Civil society organizations represented in the CSIPM were able to make contributions from the beginning of this process, responding to online consultations on the scope of the report, its initial version, and final version, which included many of the observations of organizations and food movements.

During CFS50 (October 10-13, 2022), taking as a starting point the HLPE report, the Committee on World Food Security began the cycle of work that will culminate in an agreed set of policy recommendations to be endorsed at CFS51 in October 2023. We intervened expressing our observations (intervention of Patti Naylor, coordinator of our group). Some of the points that concern us are:

  • The massive accumulation, by private companies, of digital information on land, seeds, production systems and consumer behavior;
  • Discrimination based on algorithms
  • Lack of transparency in transactions related to food, agriculture and land use; 
  • The assault on privacy, unethical surveillance and digital blockades; 
  • The private nature of the infrastructures in the hands of a few technology companies that make digitalization possible
  • The privileging of digital information over other forms of knowledge about food security and nutrition problems and their solutions, among many other concerns.    

Starting in October 2022 and through negotiations in the spring and summer of 2023, we will have the opportunity to influence the process and achieve a common position as civil society and food movements on the impacts of the digitalization of food systems. The beginning of these discussions within the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) was a good starting point as the experts’ HLPE report included several of our alerts and concerns. 

Thus, we urge you to join the Data Working Group of the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism. Find more information and the link to join this group here: https://www.csm4cfs.org/policy-working-groups/data/ 

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