On 12 April 2024, the second Open-Ended Working Group meeting of the CFS Workstream on Reducing Inequalities took place. The meeting provided a space for CFS participants to exchange regarding their priorities and provide feedback on the Policy Recommendations zero draft launched in March. Deidre “Dee” Woods (UK), Coordinator of the Equity Working Group, Lena Bassermann (Germany), from the facilitation team,  and Judith Hitchman (France), participant of the Equity Working Group brought the collective voice of the CSIPM to the meeting. The full written comments are available here.

We call for a process that is truly grounded in the realities of peoples, constituencies and grassroots communities who are experiencing the impacts of an unequal world.
Dee Woods
CSIPM Equity Working Group Coordinator & Coordination Committee member

Thank you Chair, we would like to welcome the new CFS Secretary. We have a lot of comments, but we will stick to our general comments, and these will be shared through our written submission. 

The chasms of inequalities within and between countries of the Global South, Global North, are deepening and widening drastically. We are globally confronted with more and more violent conflict, some wars, more and more people are living in poverty and going hungry.

Against this backdrop, we have to ask ourselves: What is our ambition for this process? Who, these recommendations really for? We call for a process that is truly grounded in the realities of peoples, constituencies and grassroots communities who are experiencing the impacts of an unequal world on a daily basis. 

We as the CSIPM reconfirm our appreciation and the relevance of the policy convergence process “Reducing Inequalities for food security and nutrition”. Our constituencies see these as a prerequisite for inclusive, participatory, equitable, healthy, and sustainable food systems. As the largest international space of social movements and civil society organizations working to eradicate food insecurity and malnutrition, the CSIPM prioritizes the organizations and movements of people through our constituencies including Indigenous Peoples, peasants, women and diverse genders as the most affected by food insecurity and malnutrition. We also include those in protracted crises, conflict and war zones like Gaza, Sudan, Yemen,  Congo, and Haiti.

The CSIPM explicitly welcomed the scope of the process as well as the extensive analysis provided by the HLPE. Especially, among others, the deep analysis of systemic drivers of discrimination and power imbalances that lead to inequalities affecting food security and nutrition outcomes. We welcome that the zero draft is mentioning power imbalances leading to inequalities in food systems, albeit guidance on how to transform these imbalances is missing.

We welcome that the zero draft is following the structure of the HLPE but unfortunately the multidimensional framework has not been applied throughout the document. In general, the Zero Draft of the CFS Policy Recommendations on Reducing Inequalities for Food Security and Nutrition does not fully reflect the envisaged level of ambition.

We would like to emphasize that the reference to the need to transform current systems of trade, investment and debt governance, and subsidies related to food security and nutrition, are important because it is the first time that we are including this in a policy document. And we should recognize the difference between the Committee taking decisions on issues on which other international spaces are the mandated decision making spaces, like, for instance, debt relief, and trade, and the Committee providing input on the implications of these issues regarding food security and nutrition, which can then be taken into account in decision-making in other spaces.

The mention of agroecological and other innovative approaches under innovations into value chains, is not understandable. Rather, the potential of agroecology for reducing inequalities, as presented in the HLPE, should be highlighted in the policy recommendation.

The draft doesn’t show the connection between power structures and inequalities. It lacks the understanding that addressing inequalities would require an effective confrontation with power structures as an essential prerequisite for substantial change. Sustainable change requires understanding and addressing the systemic drivers and root causes of inequity in context. Understanding inequity and inequality involves recognizing who is marginalized from food and nutrition opportunities, as well as clearly identifying how and why. We need to look at race, caste, age, gender, disability, indigeneity, ethnicity. 

We need a consistent application of a human rights perspective and the associated internationally agreed human rights language, which is missing: An example of this is the need to make the distinction between duty bearers and rights holders. The entire document should be reviewed and revised to include this aspect. 

So far, the recommendations do not address specific stakeholders, or actors. And we need to include UNDROP and UNDRIP , and other internationally recognized UNGA resolutions and documents. Thank you.

  • Lena shared information regarding the general gaps of the Zero Draft, based on the collective analysis of the Equity Working Group. The complete analysis can be read in the written submission.

We mainly would like to emphasize that the multidimensional framework, the “engine of equity”  of the HLPE framework should be added to the rationale of the Policy Recommendations since it is a comprehensive analysis for understanding how inequity is intersectional, intergenerational, and interterritorial. This should be explicitly mentioned. 

Accordingly, actions in the recommendations must work through processes of recognition, representation, and redistribution so this whole framework is important to have in the rationale. All actions that aim to address inequalities in the food systems need to work through human rights and justice principles, considering the range of different knowledge and evidence available in framing issues and actions. And also referring to several CFS products already mentioned and other frameworks. 

Additionally, we also propose to add a paragraph on conflicts and crisis building on the CFS Protracted Crisis Framework for Action (CFS-FFA), also using language out of the CFS-FFA. Safe and rapid access to affected communities must be guaranteed to provide humanitarian food and livelihood assistance in all situations of conflict, occupation, terrorism, and man-made and natural disasters. 

For the first paragraph, about land tenure and resources, we would propose not speaking of access, but rather of control over resources. That’s a very important point for the CSIPM.

Regarding the Gender approach, we think it’s really not possible that gender inequalities are for the first time mentioned under point 31, but rather call for a gender transformative approach that is applied throughout the whole document, from the rationale throughout the different paragraphs. And we also want to emphasize that as has been also the ambition from the beginning of the process, to really have gender inequalities as a centrality in the workstream. 

The other comments will be shared through a written contribution. Thank you. 

As we have already mentioned the recommendations need to include various policies such as UNDRIP and UNDROP, and the UN resolution on social and solidarity economy (SSE). I want to emphasize that over 30 states and regions already have legislation on Social Solidarity Economy (SSE). In terms of ways of supporting food justice, it is a very significant lever from providing school dinners to children like in Cabo Verde, where there is SSE legislation to inclusive employment and collective wealth through bringing people from informal into formal employment, through the creation of small scale cooperatives and through community economic development and in supporting territorial markets. 

In particular, I would refer to the CFS policy on connecting smallholders to markets. SSE includes things like community land trusts that are recognized, for example, by the Habitat International. An example of that is where food is grown in community gardens that are perpetually within the hands of the community. And this is a way of providing food security in many black neighborhoods in New York, for example. 

Also, the importance here of direct food chains, from producers to consumers and other means of territorialising, the link between consumers and producers that greatly reduce and have many different techniques in reducing the inequalities both for producers and consumers. Thank you very much. 

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