CL 123/21


Hundred and Twenty-third Session

Rome, 28 October – 2 November 2002

World Food Summit: five years later

Table of Contents


Preparations for WFS:fyl

Conduct of the WFS:fyl

Immediate follow-up action by FAO

Action proposed by the Council


1. The World Food Summit: five years later (WFS:fyl) took place at FAO Headquarters in Rome from 10 to 13 June 2002. Its objective was to give renewed impetus to the implementation of the 1996 World Food Summit (WFS) Plan of Action, and mobilize greater global commitment to achieving the WFS target of reducing by half the number of undernourished by the year 2015.

2. A total of 179 countries and the European Community participated in the WFS:fyl, and 73 of the delegations were headed by Heads of State or Government or their deputies. Accredited observers included 26 UN and 47 other intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), as well as 258 nongovernmental/civil society (NGO/CSO) organizations. At its first session on Monday 10 June, the Summit adopted the Declaration of the World Food Summit: five years later, entitled International Alliance Against Hunger. (The text of the Declaration, and the full report of WFS:fyl are available separately.)

3. The focus of this paper is on the preparatory process, the conduct of the event and the main lines of immediate follow-up action taken or envisaged by the FAO Secretariat. Document CL 123/22 covers action requested of the Council on operative paragraph 10 of the Declaration, calling for the establishment of an Inter-Governmental Working Group to elaborate voluntary guidelines on the progressive realization of the right to food in the context of national food security.

Preparations for WFS:fyl

4. In September 2000, the 26th Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) considered and referred to the Council the proposal by the Director-General for a high level review of progress in achieving the World Food Summit goals. At its 119th session in November 2000 the Council agreed to convene the WFS:fyl as an integral part of the 31st session of the FAO Conference in November 2001.

5. Further discussions on the arrangements for the event were held during the 27th Session of the CFS in May 2001 and the 120th session of the Council in June 2001. The Council formed the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) which made considerable progress towards an agreed outcome for the WFS:fyl.

6. Events in the second half of 2001 led to the decision to postpone the WFS:fyl to June 2002. The additional six months of preparatory time made it possible for the five FAO Regional Conferences to provide input for the discussions of the CFS immediately prior to the Summit, and for all governments to take into account developments in the intervening period, notably the Monterrey Consensus and the outcome of the WTO Doha Conference.

7. At its 28th Session (6-9 June 2002) the CFS, as mandated by the Council, reconvened the OEWG which finalized the draft Declaration for submission by the CFS to the WFS:fyl. As part of its regular monitoring of implementation of the WFS Plan of Action, the Committee itself considered a synthesis of national progress reports, as well as reports of the discussions which had taken place at the five FAO Regional Conferences. The Committee’s conclusions are contained in its report (CL 123/10) and in the information document tabled at the WFS:fyl, “Progress in the Implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action: Summary Report on Results of the First Monitoring Cycle” (WFS:fyl 2002/LIM/2).

8. Preparations for the WFS:fyl by NGOs/CSOs included five regional consultations held in conjunction with the FAO Regional Conferences. The reports of the consultations were presented to the conferences and subsequently drawn upon by the International Planning Committee (IPC) of NGOs/CSOs from all regions which worked with the FAO Secretariat to ensure the input of civil society to the preparatory process and the event itself.

9. The FAO secretariat produced on its own responsibility a volume of technical background documents entitled Mobilizing the political will and resources to banish world hunger. Issued in the spring of 2002, this volume contained three papers, earlier drafts of which had been submitted for comments to the CFS and to a broad spectrum of other organizations and eminent individuals: New challenges to the achievement of the World Food Summit goals, Fostering the political will to fight hunger, and Mobilizing resources for agriculture in support of food security. Several other papers were provided as contributions to the discussions which took place at the events held in parallel to the WFS:fyl or for side events held on the premises.

Conduct of the WFS:fyl

10. The WFS:fyl involved seven Plenary sessions, three Round Table meetings for heads of delegations and a Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue between governments and non-governmental organizations. The Chairs of the Round Tables and Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue reported on the outcome of the discussions to the Plenary, and these reports are included in Part One of the Report of the World Food Summit: five years later.

11. Parallel events taking place outside the FAO Headquarters complex, the conclusions of which were also reported to the Plenary, included: a meeting of Parliamentarians organized by the Italian Inter-Parliamentary Group and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) at the Italian Senate; a private sector forum convened by the Italian agriculture federations Confagricoltura, Coldiretti and the Confederazione Italiana Agricoltori, and the NGO/CSO Forum for Food Sovereignty, organized by the Italian NGO host committee and the International Planning Committee, which also hosted workshops at FAO Headquarters during the WFS:fyl.

12. Seventeen side events were held at FAO Headquarters during the Summit, providing an opportunity for delegates and observers to discuss specific priority issues on the basis of presentations by FAO and/or its partner organizations, such as the secretariat of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and the World Bank. The events, a full list of which is contained in Part One of the Report of the WFS:fyl, included a discussion on Rural women: crucial partners in the fight against hunger and poverty, organized with the support of the Government of Sweden.

13. Another 17 side meetings were held on regional food security with the participation of regional economic organizations (REOs) concerned. These events constituted a brainstorming exercise permitting the exchange of information among the participants, which included Heads of State and Government from several member countries of the REOs, representatives from the donor countries and international and regional financial institutions and banks.

14. The presence of high level delegations from so many countries led to additional important results during the Summit. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture was signed by a further 45 countries, bringing the total to 56 signatories plus the European Community. The members of NEPAD’s Implementation Committee took the opportunity to meet, at the level of Heads of State or government, to prepare for the G8 meeting in Kananaskis, Canada.

Immediate follow-up action by FAO

15. The WFS:fyl Declaration reconfirms FAO’s major role in assisting countries to implement the WFS Plan of Action, in the areas of its mandate, and keeping in mind that the WFS entrusted to the Committee on World Food Security the task of monitoring progress. Without attempting to cover the many programmes of the Organization which contribute to helping Members achieve the WFS goals, it is possible to identify some major lines of action which FAO expects to pursue with a view to responding to this provision of the Declaration, at the international, regional and national levels.

a) International level

16. The 1996 World Food Summit and subsequently the WFS:fyl have unequivocally affirmed that reducing hunger must form an essential part of the international development agenda. The Millennium Declaration reflected the WFS target by making hunger and extreme poverty reduction a primary goal for development, and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are now widely accepted as the framework for development action and for measuring development progress.

17. As extreme poverty and hunger are still predominantly rural phenomena, agricultural and rural development must form an essential part of any strategy aiming at alleviating hunger and poverty. Concerted efforts by FAO, IFAD and WFP in the preparatory process for the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, and during the Conference itself, also helped to ensure that serious consideration was given to the need for greater investment in, and development of, rural areas if lasting success in poverty reduction is to be achieved.

18. The Anti-Hunger Programme, presented as a draft during a side event at the WFS:fyl, sought to spell out broad requirements in terms of actions and incremental resources required at the global level to meet the WFS target. The programme also suggested how the costs could be shared between developing countries and external sources of finance. The message was carried to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg through a second draft of the Anti-Hunger Programme. This draft emphasized the policy dimensions of hunger reduction and was linked closely to UN-led activities in support of the attainment of the MDGs, in particular the Action Plan for Agriculture, one of the five priority areas for action in the UN Secretary General’s WEHAB (Water, Energy, Health, Agriculture and Biodiversity) initiative.

19. The Strategic Framework for FAO 2000-2015 sets, as a strategic objective, the achievement and maintenance of a central place for food security on the international agenda. It specifies that FAO’s major thrust will be to work with its partners to promote action to meet the WFS goals. The main challenge will be to promote a move from advocacy to action, so that the awareness rekindled by the WFS:fyl is translated into concrete measures to accelerate progress in hunger reduction.

20. Commitments to implement the Anti-Hunger Programme and to further promote hunger reduction, through activities already underway in the context of Millennium Summit follow-up, will be important. In this respect, as the Declaration indicates, the International Alliance Against Hunger would offer a framework for all constituents concerned with eliminating hunger to join forces and promote coordinated action, using the Committee on World Food Security as the forum for monitoring results. In the coming months FAO will consult with other interested organizations, with a view to proposing steps towards giving substance to this concept, as endorsed by the WFS:fyl. Particular attention will be paid to civil society initiatives to bring stakeholders together for joint advocacy and action on hunger issues.

b) Regional level

21. The discussions at the side events held during the WFS:fyl highlighted the fact that, despite specific differences among the member countries of the various regional economic organizations, concerted efforts at regional level were essential to address the food security concerns and demonstrated political will and commitment of the REOs and their member countries to work together in this regard.

22. The participants recognised the importance of the regional strategies and programmes, with focus on support to national food security efforts, regional food safety issues and agricultural trade facilitation measures. Emphasis was also placed on the need for rapid finalization and implementation of Regional Programmes for Food Security (RPFS) and participants sought FAO’s assistance in this regard, including mobilization of donor support. The representatives from donor countries and international and regional banks and financing institutions expressed their support for a regional approach to address issues of regional concern. Donors expressed interest in different components of the RPFS, in keeping with the priority areas for support laid down by their own governments and/or governing bodies.

23. At the request of the REOs, FAO is now reinforcing its assistance to them by preparing detailed project documents on the various components of the RPFS, while maintaining overall coherence and synergy, as well as appropriate sequencing, in order to achieve sustainable impact on food security and poverty alleviation. The REOs intend to discuss these proposals with national, bilateral and multilateral financing institutions with a view to determining financial modalities, including national, bilateral and multilateral financial support to the implementation process. Taking into consideration the suggestions received during the side events, and further internal discussions and preparatory work at the REO level, the various projects would be ready for presentation in regional meetings during the latter part of 2002.

c) National level

24. Operative paragraph 11 of the WFS:fyl Declaration, states: “We specifically urge governments to review their ongoing national food security policies with a view to filling gaps, identifying new initiatives, removing implementation obstacles and streamlining inter-ministerial and inter-departmental policy initiatives.”

25. It is timely, therefore, for developing countries and countries in transition which have re-affirmed their commitment to the World Food Summit goal to revisit the strategies and policies through which they will achieve their national food security targets, taking into account the developments at the international level (such as the Monterrey consensus and the Doha agreement), their own experience with pilot programmes and the fact that, with few notable exceptions, little progress has so far been made towards accelerating hunger reduction.

26. This is an exercise that must be nationally owned and led, with full stakeholder participation, in order to bring about strengthened political commitment to cutting the incidence of hunger and see that this is reflected in resource allocations to key sectors. To ensure an integrated approach, it is important that the national strategies be prepared not only within the framework of the commitments and goals of the WFS:fyl but also in the broader context of the MDGs. It is also important that, where relevant, they be fully integrated with the PRSP process.

27. To assist countries, FAO has launched an initiative to help review and update national agricultural development and food security strategies and policies, based on work carried out in follow-up to the World Food Summit. In 1997 FAO prepared and submitted to developing member countries and countries with economies in transition, draft Strategy Papers on National Food Security and Agricultural Development – Horizon 2010. These were formally endorsed by 117 countries, and in some cases reflected in national strategic and planning work, presented to parliaments and endorsed at the level of the Head of Government.

28. Between 2000 and 2001, an updating exercise was carried out and over 100 governments benefited from FAO support to organize national multi-stakeholder one-day workshops aimed at discussing and reviewing the national strategies. Seventy seven countries have reported the successful completion of the exercise, including the preparation of new versions of the strategies. The post-WFS:fyl initiative, foreseen in 2002-2003, will build upon this recent experience to furnish, resources permitting, technical advice and assistance to those countries which request it, and to facilitate the participation of UNDP, World Bank other UN agencies and bi-lateral donors in the review and updating process.

29. The United Nations System Network on Rural Development and Food Security, a modality established in response to the World Food Summit Plan of Action and now comprising over 70 thematic groups in individual countries, is expected to act as a standing source of information to participating development partners. The flexible, open nature of the Network at country level permits broad-based membership by concerned national stakeholders, and many of the thematic groups include non-governmental/civil society organizations and private sector associations in addition to government agencies and UN system organizations. The full potential of the Network has yet to be realized in many developing countries, but it is clear that it has a significant role to play in building partnerships and improving existing ones for sustained and focused national implementation of the WFS Plan of Action.

30. To mobilize political will and resources, both human and financial, and to encourage policy reforms where necessary, the importance of bringing together a broad constituency of stakeholders concerned with food and food security issues within each country can hardly be overstated. In this connection, the Director-General has addressed a Note Verbale to Members appealing to them to consider giving concrete effect to the International Alliance Against Hunger beginning at national level, and indicating that he would welcome additional views for implementing the Alliance.

31. During meetings on the fringe of the WFS:fyl, many government delegations expressed their interest in scaling up and broadening the scope of their programmes to address food insecurity, including the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS). The Organization has begun to work jointly with these governments and their development partners with the aim of upgrading the SPFS programmes so that they assume national dimensions. The new phase will include the combination of extra actions in the technical, policy and institutional fields required to achieve the WFS target of halving the number of undernourished people by 2015. In up-scaling the SPFS, special attention is being paid by FAO to combining forces with other development partners with similar projects and activities in the same country within the framework of what could become a national alliance against hunger.

Action proposed by the Council

32. Action proposed in connection with Item 5.1 of the Council’s agenda is dealt with in document CL 123/22. In further considering the outcome of and follow-up to the World Food Summit: five years later, the Council may wish to give its views on the lines of action outlined above, as well as to provide guidance on additional follow-up to the Declaration of the WFS:fyl by Members and by the Secretariat.