The UN Committee on World Food Security must respond to the people affected by the growing food crisis

12 October 2021. Rome, Italy. The UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) must do more to respond to the growing global food crisis and its drivers, said the Civil society and Indigenous peoples’ Mechanism (CSM) yesterday.

The call comes as governments are gathering for the 49th plenary of the CFS in Rome this week, against a backdrop of rising global hunger exacerbated by Covid-19 and stark warnings about the drastic impacts of the climate crisis.

“The time for a radical transformation of food systems is now,” said Ali Aii Shatu, representative of the CSM Indigenous Peoples’ constituency to the almost 500 plenary delegates. “We need a radical change in our food system towards greater resilience, equity and sustainability. The Covid-19 pandemic is not over yet and its effects are being felt in increasingly dramatic ways in highly indebted and food-dependent low-income countries.”

The pandemic is having severe and lasting impacts on food security and nutrition, the right to food and related human rights, particularly of the most vulnerable. It is exacerbating existing structural fragilities and injustices in the food system and is increasing inequalities within and between countries. The CSM argues that the most affected countries require support and solidarity at the global level – especially from the CFS – to help strengthening domestic food production, improving links between producers and consumers, valorising traditional knowledge, and putting in place needed social protection.

In its report Voices from the ground: From COVID-19 to radical transformation of our food systems the CSM has documented the actions taken by different actors and authorities at national and regional level to address the impacts of the pandemic. At the global level, UN agencies such as the World Health Organization or the International Labour Organization have developed and adopted relevant policy instruments and programmes in their respective sectors. However, what is missing thus far is global coordination: a process that makes it possible to put the different perspectives and initiatives together into a multisectoral, multilaterally coordinated approach. Coordination, convergence and collaboration are required between the CFS and other international UN fora in which these other challenges are addressed, and the rights of people and the planet defended.

“We have enough knowledge now, what we need is action,” said André Luzzi, representative of the urban food insecure constituency in the CSM. The CFS is the appropriate forum to do this due to its inclusivity, local to global reach, mandate rooted in the right to food, and  strong knowledge-based support provided by the HLPE, particularly in its latest paper on the impacts of COVID-19 on food security and nutrition. “The 49th CFS plenary is taking place in an important nexus moment in history. Governments gathering at the plenary should agree to insert into the CFS work plan a decisive action to develop a globally coordinated policy guidance to the impacts of COVID-19 on food security and nutrition,” he added.

The UN Deputy Secretary General recently suggested to make the CFS responsive to the recent UN Food Systems Summit. CSM does not share this view. Hundreds of civil society and Indigenous Peoples’ organisations agree that the Summit was highly problematic in many aspects. According to Luzzi, “What is really needed is to make the CFS responsive to the growing food crisis, to the people most affected by hunger and malnutrition, and to assist countries in supporting the people most at risk.”

Media contact

Marion Girard, Media officer at the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSM) for relations with the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) [email protected]

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