Hundred and Twenty-third Session
Rome, 28 October – 2 November 2002
Information on NGO/CSO Participation in the WFS:fyl and their Involvement in the Follow-up in Pursuit of the WFS Goal
1. FAO relations with civil society are an integral part of its work, rooted in a long history of collaboration with rural peoples’ and consumers’ organizations and with a broad range of NGOs. This interaction was given renewed energy by the World Food Summit in 1996. Some 500 NGOs/CSOs attended the Summit itself, while a parallel NGO Forum brought together 1 300 representatives from 80 countries. These consultations stimulated networking on food security which has continued to be active in the WFS follow-up. Concepts and initiatives first enunciated at the NGO Forum – such as the code of conduct on the right to food - have since gained credence in international discourse. The UN system as a whole has moved in the direction of more inclusive global governance. The 1999 publication FAO Policy and Strategy for Cooperation with NGOs and other CSOs provided a solid framework in this regard. Both FAO and NGOs/CSOs thus attached importance to effective civil society participation in the World Food Summit:five years later.
Preparations for the WFS:fyl (Rome, June 2002)
2. Progress in implementing the WFS Plan of Action and problems encountered were discussed in Regional NGO/CSO consultations held in conjunction with the FAO Regional Conferences in 2000. The chairpersons of these consultations reported their conclusions to the September 2000 Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and, on this occasion, participated in an innovative panel discussion alongside spokespersons for the Regional Groups of FAO member countries.
3. Later that year, major NGO/CSO networks and constituencies with which the Organization has cooperated began to reflect on how best to organize NGO/CSO participation in the WFS:fyl. They included national and regional civil society networks; organizations representing constituencies like farmers, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk, and agricultural workers; and global NGO networks interacting with FAO on themes like plant genetic resources, pesticide use, and sustainable agriculture. At a meeting held in conjunction with the March 2001 Session of the Committee on Agriculture, the organizations present decided to constitute an autonomous civil society mechanism that came to be known as the International NGO/CSO Planning Committee for the WFS:fyl (IPC)1. Over the following months the IPC coordinated an intensive process of preparation which included decentralized initatives at national and regional levels and thematic reflection.
4. The NGOs/CSOs focused on a limited number of issues which they believed were key to attaining WFS goals. Thematic background papers were authored by the technically expert members of the IPC on “Food Sovereignty in the Era of Trade Liberalization", “Access to Land”, “Alternative Approaches to Food Production”, “Access to Genetic Resources", and “The Right to Adequate Food”.2 A position paper was also drafted, discussed in regional meetings, and revised as an initial basis for NGO/CSO advocacy at WFS:fyl on these issues.
Decentralized and constituency preparation
5. A decentralized approach to civil society reflection and dialogue with governments was adopted, building upwards from the country level. Between June 2001 and June 2002 the IPC coordinated the organization of a series of consultations at national, subregional and regional levels. NGOs/CSOs were urged to take part in official national preparations with the support of FAO country representatives, and participation took place in a number of countries in all regions.
6. The regional members of the IPC, working together with the NGO/CSO focal points in the FAO regional offices, organized a first round of consultations in 20013 and another in 2002 in conjunction with the FAO regional conferences. The reports of these consultations were presented to the technical and/or the ministerial sessions of the regional conferences, providing an occasion for dialogue between NGOs/CSOs and governments of member countries at this important level. An international consultation on the right to food of indigenous peoples was also organized. All of these activities culminated in an active NGO/CSO presence at the WFS:fyl and a dynamic and productive NGO/CSO Forum.
The NGO/CSO Forum during the WFS:fyl
7. The “NGO/CSO Forum for Food Sovereignty" took place in Rome from 8 to 13 June 2002. On 8 June, some 20 000 people took part in a peaceful march through the streets of Rome on the theme “Land and Dignity.” The official segment of the Forum grouped some 500 participants nominated by the regional and constituency focal points of the IPC according to a quota system that ensured balanced representation by regions and by types of organizations: farmers’, indigenous peoples’ and fisher folk organizations, trade unions and NGOs. These participants met in plenary sessions for strategic discussions and decision-making. The other NGOs/CSOs present at the Forum, close to 1 000 in all, organized workshops on a broad range of issues and followed the plenary proceedings through a “video wall”.
8. The opening session of the Forum was addressed by the FAO Director-General4. The Forum adopted a final Statement on "Food Sovereignty: A Right for All". It also formulated a detailed Action Agenda which was presented to FAO with an invitation to study the proposals it contained and jointly identify ways in which FAO and civil society could work together effectively in follow-up to the WFS:fyl. The Action Agenda was articulated in five sections, under the overarching theme of food sovereignty, understood as "the right of peoples, communities and countries to define their own agricultural, labour, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances":
NGOs/CSOs at the WFS:fyl
9. Close to 500 NGO/CSO delegates from over 250 accredited organizations attended the WFS:fyl. An effort was made to accredit as many as possible of the organizations selected to participate in the NGO/CSO Forum in order to facilitate interaction between the two events. In addition, a number of NGO/CSO representatives attended the Summit as members of their countries’ official delegations.
10. As a part of the programme of the WFS:fyl, a Multistakeholder Dialogue took place in which NGO/CSO spokespersons presented their views regarding how to overcome the obstacles to attaining the WFS goals. Government delegates and observers from intergovernmental organizations also participated in this work. The report of the Dialogue was presented to the WFS:fyl Plenary. The NGO/CSO Forum Statement was also presented to the WFS:fyl Plenary, as were a number of NGO/CSO caucus statements.5 NGOs/CSOs participated actively in many of the side events scheduled at FAO headquarters, in particular those on Rural Women, Anti-Hunger Programme, and NEPAD. They also held workshops and met with government delegations.
Follow-up to the World Food Summit:five years later
11. The preparations for the WFS:fyl, the discussions at the NGO/CSO Forum, and the dialogue with FAO member governments at national, regional and global levels have laid a strong foundation for civil society’s strengthened interaction with FAO. Discussions are now underway between the IPC and the FAO Secretariat on how best to harness the broad mobilization and enhance further the interest in food security issues that has been generated. The NGOs/CSOs propose that the principles and working method adopted in the preparation for the Summit be maintained: respect for the autonomy of civil society organizations and their right to self-organization; recognition that no structure can "represent" civil society but promotion of a decentralized, inclusive process of information and consultation that privileges those sectors of the population which are furthest from the decision-making arena.
12. Steps are being taken to enhance the institutional environment for FAO-NGO/CSO cooperation, based on the relevant provisions of the FAO Policy and Strategy for Cooperation with NGOs and other CSOs and incorporated in the FAO Strategic Framework and Medium-term Plans. These steps include strengthening FAO's outreach to civil society at national and regional levels and facilitating access to information and effective participation in the Organization’s policy fora so that FAO Members can take civil society concerns into consideration when making decisions on policies and programmes. For their part, NGOs/CSOs are committed to focused interaction with the FAO Secretariat and dialogue with FAO Members at all levels to advance the agenda of priority issues they feel are key to attaining the WFS goals. They will do so through information and public awareness campaigns; by collaborating with FAO in documenting, diffusing and mainstreaming promising approaches to food production and resource access and management; by contributing their grassroots perspectives to FAO technical analyses and regulatory activities; by engaging with member governments to reinforce national action to implement WFS commitments; and by helping to give a voice and a protagonist role to the "end beneficiaries" of FAO's field programmes. These activities will build on and ensure greater impact for, the widespread collaboration of NGOs/CSOs with FAO, which will be documented in a report in due course.
International Focal Point:
Antonio Onorati, Crocevia, Coordinator of the Associazione ONG Italiane, the host NGO committee- Italy
Coordinator of case study preparation:
Jean Marc Von der Weid, Assessoria e Serviços a Projetos em Agricultura Alternativa - AS-PTA- Brazil
Regional Focal Points:
Ndiogou Fall, Réseau des organisations paysannes et de producteurs agricoles de l’Afrique de l’Ouest - ROPPA Senegal
Mercy Karanja, Kenya National Farmers Union – KNFU- Kenya
Elisabeth Atangana, Concertation Nationale des Organisations Paysannes du Cameroun
Nathaniel Don Marquez, Asia NGO Coalition - ANGOC - Philippines
Biblap Halim, Institute for Motivating Self Employment - IMSE - India
Sarojeni Rengam, Pesticides Action Network - PAN – Malaysia
Fouad Chehat, AREA - Algeria
Sahar Salama, ICA - Egypt
Mariam Rahmaman, Centre for Sustainable Development and Environment - CENESTA - Iran
Europe (EU and East and Central Europe Countries):
Daniel Van Der Steen, Liaison Committee of Development NGOs to the EU - Belgium
Annemarija Slabe, Institute for Sustainable Development - Slovenia
Latin America- Caribbean:
Alberto Ercilio Broch, Confedercão Nacional dos Trabalhadores na Agricultura - CONTAG - Brazil
Rosaura Rodriguez, Union estatal de organizaciones económicas y mujeres productoras de Guerrero - UESTATAL - Mexico
Francisco Menezes, Instituto Brasileňo de Analises Sociales y Económicas - IBASE - Brazil
Stuart Clark, Co-Chair Canadian Consultative Group on Food Security
Major Constituency Group Focal Points:
David King, International Federation of Agricultural Producers - IFAP
Paul Nicholson, Via Campesina
Carol Kalafatic, International Indian Treaty Council - IITC
Sustainable Agriculture/Food Security:
Linda Elswick, Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Working Group/NGO SAFS Caucus
Peter Hurst, International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations - IUF
Ad Hoc Group of International NGOs in Rome:
Francesca Ronchi-Proja, International Federation for Home Economics - IFHE
Marita Wiggerthale, International Movement of Catholic Agricultural and Rural Youth - MIJARC
Thematic Focal Points:
Right to Food:
Michael Windfuhr, Organización Internacional de Derechos Humanos por el Derecho de Alimentarse - FIAN
Steve Suppan, Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy - IATP
Agricultural Production Models:
Jean Marc von der Weid, Assessoria e Serviços a Projetos em Agricultura Alternativa - AS-PTA
Access to Productive Resources:
Henk Hobbelink, GRAIN
Pat Mooney, Erosion, Technology and Concentration Group - ETC Group
Patrick Mulvany, Intermediate Technology Development Group - ITDG
Peter Rosset, Food First
Democracy and Civil Society Involvement:
Elena Mancusi-Materi, Society for International Development - SID (firstname.lastname@example.org)
1 The membership of the IPC at the time of the WFS:fyl is attached in Annex 1.
2 All the documents produced by the IPC and by the NGO/CSO Forum can be found on the Forum web site: http://www.forumfoodsovereignty.org. See also FAO’s NGO/CSO web site.
3 At that time the WFS:fyl was expected to take place in November 2001.
4 The address is available on FAO’s WFS:fyl web site
5 All of these statements are available on the WFS:fyl web site