Does a student need grading?

Imagine a school system in which examinations, sanctions and grading do not exist. Personally, I think a small group would still feel motivated to study and do their homework, but a considerable number would set other priorities. I believe this is a good analogy for the situation of global governance for food security and it exemplifies the need for a monitoring system.

Ever since I got involved in development work, I heard people expressing their aversion to monitoring and evaluation. It is considered technical and complicated.

Nevertheless, within the 43rd Committee on World Food Security (CFS), this issue has been addressed frequently. This is promising, since this has not happened to the same extent before. I am delighted with this development.

Implementation on the ground

A statement that has often been made within the CFS session this year is that the CFS is an important space and that it has proved its success in creating progressive policies. Many stakeholders have said that the CFS still needs to keep developing itself. The policies offer an important framework, but will really start making a difference when implemented on the ground.

This is a viewpoint that can be traced back to a wide variety of CFS stakeholders. Kanayo Nwanze, President of The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) remarked during his opening statement that “we need to do more, better, faster and together”. He stated that this should be done by moving from policies to action on the ground. Similar statements were made by other actors, such as the World Food Programme Assistant Executive Director Elisabeth Rasmusson, the delegates of Iran and Switzerland, and the Civil Society Mechanism (CSM).

So broad agreement exists within the CFS. Implementation of CFS policies is key to help moving the CFS forward. As is nicely summarized in the CFS document ‘from agreement to action towards implementing the 2030 agenda’, the CFS:  “now faces the challenge of putting this unique agreement into action”.

Monitoring the tenure guidelines

An action-oriented approach requires a clearly defined monitoring process. With respect to the endorsement of the ‘Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure’ this year’s CFS is already memorable.  As the CFS itself states, having monitoring guidelines “will enable an interactive multi-stakeholder dialogue based on the experiences and good practices ”. 

Marcela Villarreal, FAO director of Office for Partnerships, advocacy and capacity development, has emphasised the importance of having such a debate. “The real value of the guidelines comes when they are implemented on the local level and make an actual difference to the life of men, women and children”.  As shown in the plenary about monitoring of the voluntary guidelines, promising first steps have already been taken. Sierra Leone included the tenure guidelines in their national legislation. Countries such as Brazil, Colombia and Indonesia have provided other encouraging examples.

Another encouraging example is the report civil society developed regarding the use and implementation of the Tenure guidelines. They presented this during a side session at CFS43. The report is by several actors and is recognised as an important contribution in moving the CFS further towards improving its influence.


As mentioned in the report, the session on monitoring in this year’s CFS is “the first one held to share experiences and good practices in applying CFS decisions and recommendations”. This is a first step, but obviously there are also challenges ahead.

Space needs to be provided for individuals to fulfil their monitoring tasks. In doing so, several questions still need to be answered: who is going to monitor and evaluate? What indicators are necessary to make monitoring and evaluation as optimal as possible? And once monitoring processes are running, what will they be used for?

Another important question that has been raised is what happens next? The way in which this process needs to be followed up is still hazy. How frequently will the implementation practices be discussed? And is this monitoring process going to be replicated for the other CFS guidelines?

In sum, there are still many questions to answer. And I am sure they will be debated within the coming CFS meetings.

After all, how effective is it to grade a student only once? A continuing process of grading is used to keep track of an individual student’s progress. The future will show whether the CFS system will mirror this school system. I can only express the hope that the CFS will keep following this promising track in the direction it took during this year’s CFS session.

Blogpost by Josh Geuze, #CFS43 Social Reporter – josh.geuze(at)

Photo Credit: Rhoni McFarlane on Flickr

This post is part of the live coverage during the 43rd Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). This post is written by one of our social reporters, and represents the author’s views only.


21/10/2016 21:19


No comments