On 18 July 2022, the President of the UN General Assembly and the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) co-convened a High-Level Special Event at the UN headquarters in New York entitled “Time to Act Together: Coordinating Policy Responses to the Global Food Crisis”. Representing the Landworkers’ Alliance and the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSIPM), Deirdre Woods delivered a statement which can be read here or watched in the video below.
The event was preceded by a public event co-organised by the CSIPM with IPES-Food, “Beyond the Ukraine war: the new layer of the global food crisis from a human rights approach“. During the event, a rich panel of experts, government officials, and civil society representatives urged political leaders across the world to step up their efforts to tackle hunger and malnutrition, claiming that responses promoted so far by governments, international agencies, and financial institutions, like the most recent statement of Rome-based Agencies, International Financial Institutions, and WTO are nowhere near what is needed to turn the current crisis around and prevent future ones.
CSIPM’s intervention delivered by Dee Woods at the High Level Special Event on 18 July 2022
On behalf of the Civil Society and indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism of the CFS, we would like to express our appreciation for this event, jointly convened by the CFS with the President of the UN General Assembly, as an explicit recognition and sign of support of the UN General Assembly to the important role of the CFS.
This is the third food price crisis in 15 years. Failure to deal with the structural causes of the crises in 2008 and 2011 means we are once again facing the unacceptable situation of millions more being pushed into hunger. Each crisis exposes not only the inability of the agro-industrial food system to respond to successive crises, but also that it has contributed to creating them. Countries that suffer from debt and dependency on food imports are particularly affected leaving them with no means to cope.
The Rome Based Agencies, G7 and financial institutions however frame the current global food crisis almost exclusively from a market and production perspective, and as caused by the disruption of global trade due to a war involving two major agro-exporting countries. They fail to question why so many countries in the global south have become dependent on imports or why we continue to face unacceptable levels of hunger despite many years of record production in previous years.
As with past food price crises, the governments with the economic power to effect structural reforms to the global economy (including curbing corporate power) are not effectively acting towards the needed profound transformation, because of their unwillingness to address the root causes of a failing system and leaving our communities with the burden to adjust to successive crises.
The dominant economic actors take partial measures and use political spaces they control such as the G7, Bretton Woods institutions, WTO, to impose their responses, further increasing inequalities within and across countries, particularly marginalizing populations and countries with fragile national policy spaces, and fragmenting multilateral spaces. Their responses are biased because:
- They are not based on a human rights approach. There is no meaningful participation of the most marginalized and affected constituencies to shape the responses through their autonomous formations and organisations.
- They are not proposing any policy or normative changes for a vision of profound food systems transformation to address the multiple and intertwined crises of the present and the future, and working towards food sovereignty, economic and social justice, gender justice and diversity, agroecology, biodiversity, and climate justice.
- They do not address the challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples and mobile pastoralists whose traditional food systems provide critical food security for millions of indigenous people and beyond, where dominant corporate actors and interests often act in disruptive ways ignoring the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- They do not address the challenges faced by small-scale food producers and workers, who are the backbone of local-national and territorially embedded food systems and of most of the food consumed in the world.
- They do not take into account and build on the relevant policy outcomes of the CFS. They fail to draw lessons on why the responses to the previous global food price crises were inadequate to prevent recurring crises. Instead, they continue to reinforce large-scale industrial food production and a food security strategy based on dependence on global trade, synthetic fertilizers and fossil fuels to access a handful of cereal crops.
The CSIPM is currently undertaking people’s consultations in all regions to build our collective understanding of the impacts of crises and identify transformative policy proposals. These will further enrich our contributions to coordinated policy responses at the CFS 50.
The CSIPM main demands to the CFS and the UN System are:
Policy responses need to be anchored in a comprehensive human rights approach, recognizing the agency of those most affected as rights-holders and the accountability of governments as duty-bearers. Such responses are even more necessary as the impacts of the climatic crisis continue to increase.
Therefore, global policy coordination needs to be urgently implemented within an inclusive multilateral governance mechanism that affords priority voice for most affected countries and constituencies. This should take place in the framework of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS).
The CFS has the convening power as the foremost inclusive platform on food security and nutrition and has the mandate, with the support of the HLPE, to coordinate and strengthen collaborative action, to provide support and advice to countries and regions, as well as to monitor the policy uptake and implementation and their impacts on the Right to adequate food.
Therefore, the CSIPM demands that the CFS members adopt at CFS50 the decision to give guidance for a coordinated short term and long-term structural responses within the mandate of the CFS. We propose:
1) Agreeing in the MYPoW rolling section to monitor the uptake of the CFS decisions on food price volatility and social protection at the CFS 51 session in October 2023. These CFS policy products have special relevance in the current context.
2) Using the CFS convening power and coordinating mandate to develop an inclusive food crisis mechanism, that can be activated to coordinate and support members and participants to monitor the current crisis and prevent and address future crises. This mechanism should be initiated by:
- Installing a CFS OEWG on Monitoring the food crisis, or continuously assessing, within the foremost inclusive format of the CFS, the food crises trends drawing on evidence from most affected countries and constituencies,
- Supporting and advising food import dependent countries in transforming their food systems through the diversification of their economies and breaking their dependencies on food imports and external inputs and building resilience to future crises
- Addressing and assessing the impacts of trade agreements and finance and investment rules on food security and nutrition and how to address speculative behaviors in the short and long term. This debate should also include an assessment on how public food reserves can protect countries and their populations against shocks.
3) The future CFS policy convergence process on inequalities should take stock and further understand how the global economic model is impacting food systems, and how changes in the global rules and institutional arrangements shaping trade, tax, debt, financial markets, investments, and public finances are necessary for a profound food systems transformation.
- Learn more about the structural causes of the current global food crisis and why policy responses have been falling short, according to civil society and Indigenous Peoples.
- Watch the recording of the event “The causes of the current global food crisis are structural and go beyond the war in Ukraine“
- Take action on social media and share your dissent about the need for a bold policy response to the food crisis. Suggested messages:
To avert future #FoodCrises, we need to redesign, diversify and localise food systems. This requires that economic assumptions be questioned, human rights be protected and power be rebalanced.