SE015 "The Food Security Standard - Addressing the Right to Food in Sustainability Standards and Certification Opportunities and Challenges


  • Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Germany (BMEL)
  • World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
  • Welthungerhilfe
  • Center for Development Research of the University of Bonn, Germany

The international demand for and trade with agricultural commodities is growing, induced by a gradual shifting from petroleum based to bio-based economies. Concerns about the sustainability of the production of agricultural commodities is increasing, with the rising demand for biomass for food, feed, energy and bio-based materials. Food security has been at the core of the sustainability debate due to the rising competition among different uses and competition for land and natural resources. Despite persisting hunger in countries producing global agricultural commodities, food security has been hardly addressed in sustainability standards and certification schemes. The Food Security Standard provides a set of practicable and measurable criteria and audit tools that can be incorporated in sustainability standards and certification schemes to ensure the realization of the Human Right to adequate Food in agricultural production.

The side event will present the Food Security Standard and the results of pilot tests carried out in plantations and smallholder farms in Africa, Asia and Latin-America. Key challenges and opportunities to mainstream food security into sustainability certification schemes will be discussed.

Key speakers/presenters

Welcome Speech:

  • Ambassador Dr. Ulrich Seidenberger, German Permanent Representation to the UN Organizations in Rome


  • Inna Knelsen, ISCC (International Sustainability & Carbon Certification)
  • Gábor Figeczky, IFOAM - Organics International
  • Dr. Rafaël Schneider, Deutsche Welthungerhilfe e.V.


  • Dr. Liliana Gamba, WWF Germany

Main themes/issues discussed

Hunger and malnutrition persist in many countries producing agricultural commodities for global markets. Food Security has been seldom addressed in sustainability standards and certification. The Food Security Standard (FSS) addresses the food security of farmers and agricultural workers producing all kinds of agricultural commodities on fields or plantations which are certified according to a sustainability standard such as RSPO, Rainforest Alliance or ISCC.

The FSS is not raising the bar for social sustainability norms and standards. It aims to ensure the fulfilment of internationally recognized rights and guidelines including the Human Rights declaration, ILO-conventions and the Voluntary Guidelines on the Right to adequate Food and Responsible Governance of Tenure of the CFS.

The FSS has been thoroughly tested. Standards involved in the pilot phase like ISCC confirm its applicability. On the one hand, some aspects concerning food security are partially or already covered by quality standards (e.g. fair contracts, working rights and sustainable agriculture). On the other hand, the FSS provides practical tools to assess food security.

To ensure food security for farmers and workers, a wide range of improvements are needed, including the promotion of extension services and a wider adoption of sustainable farming practices.

Summary of key points

  • The FSS assesses the food security situation of farmers and workers. Based on it, context specific measures to enhance food security must be developed and implemented.
  • Certification cannot replace the responsibility of governments to fulfill the Right to adequate Food. Governments can use the FSS criteria, adapt and implement them in national legislation.
  • Company driven demand for FSS-compliant commodities is crucial for the further adoption of the FSS by certification schemes.
  • FSS partners confirm that combined audits (sustainability certification + FSS) are feasible.
  • Food security is assessed during the audit through standardized interviews with the farmers, workers and relevant local stakeholders.
  • The additional costs for the audit of the FSS are moderate. The challenge remains in food insecure settings is to comply with the FSS (e.g. minimum wages, achieving food and nutrition security of farmers and workers, legal requirements, proper infrastructure etc.)
  • There are various instruments for addressing food security in value chains. Other approaches like diversification or Participatory Guarantee Systems could complement the FSS.

Key take away messages

  • Food security has so far not been sufficiently considered in agricultural value chains. This gap can be addressed with the FSS. To achieve food security, a combination of several instruments is needed.
  • All actors along the value chain should commit and contribute to sustainability, also regarding food security.
  • The awareness of the consumers and processors needs to be increased to generate demand of sustainably produced agricultural products. However, no new logos should be introduced for this purpose.
  • There is a broad consensus that the food security gap of farmers and workers has to be closed in agricultural production.



CFS 46 Side Event: SE015 The Food Security Standard – Addressing the Right to Food in Sustainability Standards and Certification (Lebanon Room)


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