A report by Liliana Mosca, SI Representative to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, Rome.
The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) organised a 3-day virtual High-Level Special Event on Global Governance of Food Security and Nutrition, 13 – 15 October 2020.
The event brought together representatives from governments, United Nations (UN) agencies, civil society and non-governmental organisations, private sector associations, philanthropic foundations, international agricultural research centres, and international and regional financial institutions. The special event, in lieu of CFS 47 which has been rescheduled to 8 – 12 February 2021 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, centred around food security and nutrition, as well as the global sustainable development agenda.
In the three plenary sessions, discussions focused on:
- the global food security situation and the way forward towards 2030;
- the impacts of COVID-19 and efforts needed to “build back better”;
- the relevance of the draft CFS “Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition” and the draft CFS “Policy Recommendations on Agroecological and Other Innovative Approaches” to the objectives of the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit.
The first session of the virtual event held addresses by FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu, President of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Gilbert Houngbo, Executive Director of World Food Programme (WFP) David Beasley, and the CFS Chairperson Thanawat Tiensin. The heads of the Rome-based UN Agencies (RBAs) reflected on how to improve food security and nutrition, and their collaborative commitment to CFS.
In his opening remarks, Qu Dongyu stated that the CFS is dedicated to employing a comprehensive and inclusive approach in its work. He also urged the CFS to promote innovation and to address food loss and waste as areas of great importance.
“I strongly believe in the power of innovation and digital technologies as a central tool to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG2 (hunger) and SDG1 (poverty).” – Qu Dongyu, FAO Director-General.
Referring to food waste as “a matter of instilling a sense of responsibility into the whole society”, the Director-General called on CFS to work with one voice for the purpose of raising awareness and creating a shared motivation towards eliminating food waste. In relation to food loss, he stated that its reduction needs progress along the value chain, as well as the introduction of varieties with better shelf lives. Qu highlighted the need for investments in agricultural infrastructure, from roads, to cold-storage houses and facilities. He concluded by stressing the need for more “synergy and complementary activities between CFS and FAO” and promised continued support for CFS’s policies and actions.
In turn, the CFS Chairperson, Thanawat Tiensin, said that “we are at a critical turning point for humanity” with COVID-19 and conflicts placing further pressure on the food systems. Tiensin highlighted the need for a radical transformation of our diets and food systems if the international community wants to attain sustainable development.
The President of the IFAD, Gilbert Houngbo, reflected on how much the world relies on small-scale farmers who produce half of all our food calories, and demanded a commitment to increase investments in order to transform rural areas. Houngbo added that we need food systems that are sustainable, climate adapted, able to provide nutritious food, inclusive, resilient and above all do not underestimate the small-scale producers.
David Beasley, the Executive Director of the WFP, stated that conflicts, climate extremes and now the COVID-19 pandemic are the primary drivers of food insecurity, connecting the hunger pandemic to the health pandemic.
From the three days at the CFS High-Level Special Event, we should consider five points:
- People and collaboration at the heart of a COVID-19 recovery
- Food Systems Dashboard & ‘No Regrets’ actions
- Improved data for strengthened food security and nutrition
- A transgenerational and women’s view of a food systems transformation
- Women are the glue of our rural communities and global food systems