The devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic build on and exacerbate existing and avertable crises in our food systems including hunger and malnutrition, destruction of ecosystems, poverty and inequality, gender injustice, patriarchy and racism. They have driven home – ever more dramatically – that how we build, organize and govern our food systems determines who can and cannot meet their basic needs, who lives and dies. The current crisis has shown that a radical transformation of food systems is urgently needed. The CSM and its members are fighting to ensure that the lessons of the pandemic are translated into supportive policies, from the local level up to the adoption of global policy responses in the CFS.

In the midst of the pandemic, the CSM published documents collecting evidence from the ground from constituencies and communities around the world, with dedicated reports from women and youth. They testified to the violence that COVID-19 and government containment measures were wrecking on marginalized people as well as the extensive mutual aid and solidarity support initiatives that they were putting into action. The first six months of 2021 saw an unacceptable aggravation of hunger and malnutrition as the pandemic continued to spread, particularly among disadvantaged countries and groups. At the same time they have witnessed the growing transformative potential of people’s practices and proposals in addressing the crisis and its structural causes.

Despite the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) issues note on the COVID-19 impacts on food security and nutrition and the engagement of a group of committed member states and CFS participants, the CFS has not been able to agree to initiate a specific workstream to develop a global policy response to the crisis. However, the CFS 47 Plenary did adopt a paragraph in which it: ‘Requested continued deliberation and due attention to the impacts of COVID-19 on food systems, agriculture and nutrition at all states of the implementation of the approved Multi-Year Plan of Work workstreams’.

The CSM is reaching out to its members once again to collect evidence on how communities and movements are moving ahead both with solutions and with public policy proposals leading towards attainment of the right to food and food sovereignty, the right to health, and solidarity and care-based economies.

The purpose of this collective action, which began with a CSM webinar held on 31 May 2021 is to:

  1. stimulate engagement by and exchange among CSM members on moving forward on transformative policy changes at local and national levels;
  2. demonstrate that positive experiences do exist on which we can build in our work on global policy responses;
  3. feed into the initiatives at global level which the CSM is planning to conduct, together with committed governments and participants, leading up to the CFS 49th Plenary in October 2021, and to the counter mobilizations around the UN Food Systems Summit in July and September 2021.
  4. draw lessons from the policy responses from constituencies to the COVID-19 crisis for the ongoing CFS negotiations.


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