CSM Public Briefing | 25 March 2021

The Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism for relation with the CFS 

kindly invites to a Virtual Public Briefing: 

“Priorities and Key Messages to the upcoming CFS Negotiations 
on Agroecological and other Innovative Approaches”

Thursday,  25 March, 13:15-14:15h CET

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CSM Declarations on the VGFSyN during the CFS 47th Plenary

Speech by Shalmali Guttal | 10 February | CSM Policy Briefing Good afternoon everyone. My name is Shalmali Guttal and I am joining you from India. My organisation, Focus on the Global South, is a participating organisation in the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism—the CSM. We are also in the CSM Liaison Group on the UN Food Systems Summit. I will share with you our key messages regarding the CFS Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition—the VGFSyN—and its nexus with the UN Food Systems Summit. The CSM is not able to take a decision today regarding our endorsement, or not, of the VGFSyN.  The CSM is a collective space with participating organisations from 11 constituencies and 17 sub regions across the world. We need to conduct a comprehensive process of consultations with our participants to reach a final decision, which was not possible in the five days since the negotiations were concluded. But at this time, we want to make clear that the CSM is deeply disappointed with the outcome and process of the negotiations, and we have profound reservations about the content of the VGFSyN, given that most, if not all our priority issues are not meaningfully reflected in the final document. These include: the absence of human rights as the central pillar of food systems transformation; omission of the right to safe drinking water; no recommendations on reduction of pesticides and dangerous agro-chemicals; the dilution of the importance of agroecology, which could narrow the scope and ambition of the upcoming negotiations in the CFS on agreocology; no recognition of territorial markets as crucial economic spaces for food systems; lack of clear identification of the harm caused by misleading marketing; and inappropriate funding of nutrition interventions. The document does not recognize the roles of industrial agriculture and food production in precipitating the climate crisis, ecological destruction and related pandemics; of ultra-processed foods on malnutrition and chronic health problems; and of long supply chains and trade agreements on local/domestic food systems, livelihoods, and access to food and water. The VGFSyN has walked away from the recognition of the public purpose of food systems: the regulation of trade, investment and corporations in the public interest is almost non-existent in the document; as is guidance for recalibrating public policies towards addressing power imbalances in society, and strengthening local and resilient food systems based on agroecology, and the communal and public economy

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Proposal in the Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition risks undermining international law

During the 3rd and final round of negotiations of the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition (VGFSyN), the representative of the United States proposed the following addition to the text: “Treaties in the list below are only relevant for the parties to each respective treaty; other documents listed are not legally binding and reference to them shall not be interpreted as a sign of support or acknowledgement by countries that abstained or voted against their adoption and have not since then expressed their support.” With this change, the United States is in effect questioning the nature of UN treaties and resolutions. Although, at the time of writing, this proposal has not yet been accepted by member states, it has changed the nature of the negotiations around the VGFSyN. “What is now at stake is not just these particular voluntary guidelines but international law and the multilateral system itself,” says the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Michael Fakhri. To better understand the significance of the proposed addition by the United States, we suggest readings by two world-leading experts who have swiftly reacted to this deeply concerning change in the Guidelines. Letter of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Michael Fakhri. Letter of Rodrigo Uprimny, member of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR). Disclaimer: Mr Uprimny clarifies that this opinion is not made officially in the name of CESCR;  however, he considers that most members of the CESCR agree with it.

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CSM Statements on the Negotiations of the Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition

Since the onset of the negotiations of the CFS Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition, CSM has been highly committed and made many substantial contributions to bring in the priorities of its constituencies. CSM also  repeatedly expressed its concerns about an increasingly problematic way in which the process was conducted since April 2020, and the lack of political willingness of a number of governments to transform unsustainable corporate food systems. As the negotiations drew to an end, the delegation of CSM’s Food Systems and Nutrition Working Group summarised the position of the Mechanism in three key statements. Opening statement, 25 January 2021 Closing statement, 29 January 2021 Final statement, 4 February 2021 Statements at the CFS 47th Plenary, 10 February 2021 CSM Opening Statement 25 January 2021 – First day of the 3rd round of the OEWG negotiations of the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition CSM would like to raise a number of points concerning the document we have in our hands: Firstly, we are witnessing how, at a time of global ecological and social crisis, which is becoming visible in the form of a pandemic, there is a clear inclination in the negotiations to avoid drawing attention to the responsibilities of the different actors, especially the responsibility of the agro-industrial model which is the one to blame both for the climate crisis and for nutritional deficiencies on a global scale. This ignores the sense of urgency we are facing, the solution of which necessarily involves the transformation of food systems towards a fairer, more sustainable, resilient and healthier model. The urgency of the situation is not captured in the document. Even at a time when the SDGs are framing the work of many, the concept of sustainable food systems is being pursued with little or no mention of sustainability, which raises doubts about the ambition and goals of this process. While some of us seek to guarantee rights, others seek to save interests. This is evidenced by the absence of a human rights-based approach as a core overarching element of these Guidelines. The right to food is barely mentioned, while human rights’ indivisibility and universality are mentioned in passing. There seems to be no desire to mention specific rights that are crucial for the most vulnerable, such as the right to health or the right to water. Who are these guidelines for? We have already repeated on several occasions that for the CSM these guidelines

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CFS Virtual negotiations on Food Systems and Nutrition

September//December 2020 CFS virtual policy negotiations Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition CSM Preliminary Key priorities   9 October 2020 First meeting of the Friends of the Chair In order to allow the finalization of the Guidelines during the foreseen second week of negotiation (dates to be identified), a series of Friends of the Chair (FoC) meetings, scheduled between October and early November, on specific parts of the text will be taking place in the upcoming weeks starting on October 9th. The aim of this informal meetings is to facilitate the consensus building around some particular issues and controversies. It seems that no interpretation will be officially granted by the CFS, directly challenging the inclusiveness of the process. As a basis for this FoC meetings a Chair’s proposal which was prepared based on the inputs submitted during the first round of negotiations on the VGFSyN will be used. A note with modalities for this meetings was also shared. Calendar of upcoming Friends of the Chair meeting: Friday, 9 October (13.00-17.00) Monday, 19 October (13.00-17.00) Friday, 23 October (13.00-17.00) Monday, 26 October (13.00-17.00) Friday, 30 October (13.00-17.00) Friday, 6 November (13.00-17.00)   18 September 2020 CFS Advisory Group and Bureau meeting During the CFS Advisory Group and Bureau meeting of 18 September, an evaluation session of this first week of negotiation took place and CSM reminded CFS members that diversity and plurality of voices are central for the legitimacy and ambition of this process, sharing the expectation that this approach would be maintained in the next steps of the process. Please find here CSM Contributions. Due to the multiple challenges of this virtual modality and a lack of clarity on the methodology of the negotiation exercise during this first week, a first reading of the text was possible, consisting in a comprehensive annotation of the different text changes’ proposals, but without having the possibility to negotiate those text proposals, seeking convergence among the different and sometimes very polarized positions. The CFS has foreseen only a second week of negotiation to finalize the Guidelines on time for their approval in February, during CFS 47th Plenary Session, and so far, no concrete dates were identified in the busy calendar of the RBAs, but it was announced that they might  take place between the end of November and the beginning of December. 7-11 September 2020 CFS virtual policy negotiations Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition The

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Letter of the CSM WG on Food Systems and Nutrition to CFS

To the kind attention of: H.E. Hans Hoogeveen, Ambassador of the Netherlands, Chairperson, CFS Open-Ended Working Group on Food Systems and Nutrition H.E. Thanawat Tiensin, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand, Chairperson, Committee on World Food Security (CFS) All CFS Member States and participants 10th of June 2020 Dear Ambassador Hoogeveen, For the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples Mechanism for relations with the CFS, the process of negotiating the guidelines on food systems and nutrition is of great importance. As in all the negotiations that have taken place in the CFS, members of the CSM have made and are currently making an enormous effort to enable participation from civil society and IndigenousPeoples and make available to the CFS all the experience, knowledge, innovative proposals and wisdom of the groups mostaffected and discriminated against by the prevailing food systems. We value the CFS immensely as one of the few places in the UN system where this is possible. It is in this context that we wish to express serious concerns about the direction that the dynamics of work in the OEWG has taken. Firstly, we would like to highlight that, in the context of the Covid19 pandemic, the meetings of the OEWG that have been held virtually have had serious limitations in terms of inclusiveness and participation, not only of civil society but also of entire regions of Member States. Unequal access to virtual media and scheduling of the meetings without considering different timezones, as well as lack of interpretation and lack of preparatory documents in the six UN languages, have prevented broad participation. Secondly, the methodology for working and building consensus to facilitate negotiation is not clear. After a first round of comments on Draft One requested for the April 14 meeting with no clarity on how they were taken into account, the abrupt request for inputs by May 11 led us to express our concerns about the purpose of providing text change proposals when negotiations on the text have not yet started. The subsequent formatting of the inputs of May 11 into a “matrix” did notadequately take into account the comments submitted by the CSM because most of our points were missing and there was no way to identify what CSM had recommended. We found our comments grouped with many others, and it is likely that we had different points than some of these Member States or CFS participants.

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