Rome, 29 November – 10 December 2003
REPORT OF INFORMAL MEETING OF OBSERVERS FROM INTERNATIONAL NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (INGOs)
1. The Informal Meeting of Observers from International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) attending the 32nd Session of the FAO Conference was convened on Saturday, 29 November 2003, from 9:30 to 18:00. It was attended by over 50 participants from all regions. A list of participants is attached (Appendix). Following the usual practice, this report has been prepared by the appointed drafting group and is submitted for the attention of the Conference.
2. The Ad Hoc Group of INGO Representatives to FAO residing in Rome (AHG-INGOs) and the International NGO/CSO Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC) prepared the meeting in consultation with FAO and selected the following items for the agenda:
3. The meeting terminated with an information session on UN relationships with civil society led by Ambassador Bagher Asadi (Iran), a member of the Panel of Eminent Persons on Civil Society and UN Relationships appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
4. The meeting was opened by Mr Henri Carsalade, Assistant Director-General, Technical Cooperation Department. He noted that the past two years had seen a heightened visibility for food and agriculture issues on the world agenda due in good part to the activism of civil society. The World Food Summit:five years later and the NGO/CSO Forum of June 2002 had brought new dimensions to FAO’s interaction with civil society actors. Mr Carsalade expressed FAO’s appreciation for the information and mobilization campaigns being promoted by civil society at country level throughout the world in the spirit of the International Alliance against Hunger. He reiterated FAO’s commitment to work towards strengthened involvement of rural producers and NGOs/CSOs in field projects and programmes targeting food security. Regarding agricultural trade negotiations and food security, Mr Carsalade noted that the Cancun Ministerial Session has brought about important changes in the world scenario. One positive development was the strengthened voice of the developing world in trade negotiations, to which FAO had contributed through training and support for developing country delegations. Another was the growing realization that alternative solutions were possible and must be found, for which the mobilization of civil society and social movements was largely responsible. The views and proposals of the INGOs on the two topics before them were awaited with interest.
5. Two Co-Chairpersons were nominated. Mr Antonio Onorati, representing the IPC, chaired during the agenda item on the WTO negotiations on agriculture and Mrs Margaret Loseby, representing the AHG – INGOs and the International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE), chaired during the item on FAO initiatives to fight hunger. Welcoming remarks were made by Ms Carmela Basili, coordinator of the AHG-INGOs, and Mr Antonio Onorati, international focal point of the IPC. A drafting group composed of the following was constituted: Ms Bettina Corke, representative of the International Alliance of Women (IAW), Ms Sarojeni Rengam, representative of Pesticides Action Network – Regional Centres (PAN – RC), and Ms Carmela Basili, representative of the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW) and Soroptimist International (SI).
6. The proposed agenda was approved.
7. The chair of the session, Antonio Onorati called on participants to give their views and analysis regarding the WTO negotiations on agriculture, particularly following the developments in the recent Cancun Ministerial Session.
8. Overall the participants concluded that the WTO has had negative and destructive impacts on food security, food sovereignty and small farmers and their livelihoods. The liberalisation of trade and the privatisation of productive resources which are vital to food and agriculture production - including fisheries, land and water - is aggravating hunger and malnutrition. It was recalled that Lee Kyung Hae, the South Korean farmer who took his life protesting that WTO was killing small farmers and destroying their livelihoods and their support systems, had died defending food sovereignty.
9. The failure of the WTO Ministerial Session in Cancun has changed the debate and discussions on the neo-liberalisation process at the global level. The social movements in Cancun visibly tabled their resistance. This social mobilisation and the death of the South Korean farmer has had an enormous impact on the negotiations within the WTO.
10. The meeting raised concerns about the agro-export model of agriculture that is taking land from peasants and introducing hazardous agricultural inputs that create poor working conditions. Dumping made possible by direct or indirect subsidies has generated imports of cheap food and agricultural products that has depressed the prices of these products and negatively affected the livelihoods of farmers which produce them. The meeting overwhelming supported the removal of such subsidies.
11. One of the biggest problems that farmers experience, both in the North and in the South, is the problem of prices for agricultural products. For twenty years, the prices of many commodities have been so low that they do not cover production costs. In the North subsidies are adopted to compensate farmers. Southern countries are not able to use subsidies, and the result has been the impoverishment of small producers. There is a tendency to overproduction which affects world market prices. Low prices for agricultural commodities are also promoted by the commodity cartels and monopolies that are operating both nationally and globally, the only actors who profit from them. For these reasons the issue of controls to ensure remunerative producer prices should be re-examined and new mechanisms developed.
12. The group raised major concerns about transnational corporations and their control of food and agriculture. This concentration of power and resources is detrimental to small farmers, workers and fisherfolk everywhere. Transnational corporations pursue profits at the expense of people’s concerns, safety and livelihoods.
13. Participants noted that the WTO’s globalised intellectual property systems are detrimental to farmers’ access to seeds and technology, particularly in the South, and have been shown to be exploitative of farmers and Índigenous People’s local knowledge systems and resources. It was felt that FAO has an obligation to protect the seeds collected from farmers’ fields through the CGIAR Trust Agreement. In this regard, the patenting of the Mexican “Enola” bean (a farmers’ variety covered by the trust agreement) was raised. A participant reported that, at the 9th meeting of the Commission on Genetic Resources, governments had requested FAO to bring the case to the attention of WTO, WIPO and the UN General Assembly but that this did not yet seem to have been done.
14. The fish harvesters and fishworkers movement present at the meeting underlined the dangers of the privatisation of the fish resources. The sixteen percent of the total animal protein consumed by humans represented by fish products could potentially be under the control of private companies. They stressed the need for fish harvesters and fish workers to be systematically included in the fight against hunger. FAO was asked to actively promote the Code of Conduct on Responsible Fisheries and the enforcement of the UN Convention law of the Sea and other convention related to oceans and its resources that prevents the exploitation of fisheries
15. While there was no consensus on this point, the majority of the participants called for the removal of WTO from agriculture and fisheries because of its negative impact on small farmers and women producers. Some participants called for reforming the WTO and working within the institution to change the system and introduce more balanced and just trading mechanisms.
16. Most of the participants felt that only a rights-based approach that gives priority to the right to food and food sovereignty could address the issues of hunger, malnutrition and equitable development. Mechanisms to protect local producers’ capacity to ensure food sovereignty need to be put in place. The meeting also expressed the need for agroecological models of production. In addition, genuine agrarian reform, based on the equitable distribution of land, water, seeds and other productive resources, are required to address the crucial issue of hunger and malnutrition. Women are the main producers of food and yet they lack access to land and other resources and this has to be addressed. The quality and safety of food is also an important consideration.
17. A letter to the Director-General of FAO that the International Planning Committee on Food Sovereignty (IPC) had drafted regarding the trade issue was communicated to the meeting.
18. The meeting concluded that the multilateral mandate for food and agriculture is with FAO, not with the WTO. FAO must take full responsibility to protect the right to food, genetic resources and food sovereignty. In particular, FAO was asked to:
19. In responding to the points made, Mr Hartwig de Haen, Assistant Director-General, Economic and Social Department and Mr Ramesh Sharma, Senior Economist, Commodities and Trade Division noted that FAO shares many of their concerns. There are winners and losers in the international trading system, and the international community must ensure fair rules that protect the weaker players. FAO’s mandate is to ensure that developing countries are better informed and more equal partners in the negotiations.
20. In closing the session the chair underlined that all participants were critical of the way the WTO functions and would like FAO to play a stronger role. The challenge is to assist food producers – along with developing country governments - to be strong actors in world trade negotiations.
21. The chair, Margaret Loseby (International Association of Agricultural Economists), invited Mr Prabu Pingali, Director, Agricultural and Development Economics Division, Economic and Social Department to present Document C 2003/16, Strengthening Coherence in FAO’s Initiatives to Fight Hunger.
22. Mr Pingali pointed out that the paper was linked to the Strategic Framework of FAO 2000-2015. Progress in reducing hunger since the World Food Summit in 1996 had been insufficient and there was a need to promote the political will necessary for reaching the goals for hunger reduction which had been affirmed the international community. The paper was intended to highlight initiatives on which FAO had embarked over the past few years to address the problems of hunger and food security in a more focused manner. Mr Pingali explained how these initiatives relate to each other in the context of the twin-track approach to hunger reduction and gave examples of actions being taken. One important step was the Anti-Hunger Programme, described in a document released on the first day of the 32nd Session of the FAO Conference.
23. Ms Eva Clayton, ADG/Special Adviser to the Director-General on Follow-up to the WFS, then described the origins and the nature of another of the recent initiatives, the International Alliance Against Hunger (IAAH). The Alliance is intended as a platform to support the many existing initiatives to end hunger and encourage them to work together. The role of NGOs/CSOs and INGOs in the Alliance is of crucial importance.
24. The chair then asked participants to comment on the document. She referred to para. 63 which invites the Conference to provide the Secretariat with guidance on the initiatives described. Some participants responded by illustrating the on-going activities of their organisations to overcome hunger and provided written information on the subject to the Secretariat.
25. With reference to para. 13 which advocates for poor and vulnerable farm households, some delegates pointed to the necessaty of specifying that this includes households engaged in fishing and coastal activities.
26. Several points were raised in relation to paras. 16-22 which describe the four dimensions of food security, defined as “access of all people at all times to sufficient, nutritionally adequate and safe food, without undue risk of losing such access”. Some participants felt that insufficient attention had been paid to the question of access to land, water, seeds and other resources. Women, in particular, are often denied such access and efforts to redress this injustice are imperative. Some participants insisted that FAO should give priority to the problem of land reform, taking specific conditions and traditions into account. Some participants felt that the definition of food security given in para. 16 was inadequate since it did not evoke the constraints faced by smallholders and farm workers. Others pointed out that food security cannot be achieved without food sovereignty.
27. Regarding Table 1 on page 4, it was proposed that mention be made of nutrition education intervention and education programmes aimed at womed and children. It was also suggested that equitable trade should be fostered on local level as well as internationally.
28. Regarding para. 22, which refers to the concerted effort needed for women to participate fully in opportunities for productivity enhancement, several delegates noted the need for educational programmes starting at school level. This is particularly important for combating HIV/AIDS and for assisting single-head households. Nutrition educational and school feeding programmes are also of great value. Several delegates pointed out that, even though there has been progress in improving women’s rights at all levels, women workers and child labourers are often obliged to work in very poor conditions, in danger from health hazards from exposure to pesticides.
29. Para. 25 on food assistance programmes should underline the need for food assistance programmes to foster sustainable development.
30. Participants welcomed para. 30, which advocates greater accountability of governments. A supportive policy framework was taken to mean that governments should review and reassess their policy framework for food security.
31. Many statements were made in favour of the International Alliance Against Hunger and its new collaborative approach, attempting to create partnerships at national and international levels.
32. As regards the five priority areas for inverstment mentioned in para. 39, it was suggested that a sixth area – that of storage and basic processing facilities – should be added.
33. One participant suggested that National Strategies, mentioned in para. 45, should include reference to import duties on agricultural inputs. National governments should be challenged on this method of raising revenue since it increased their cost, thus preventing small farmers from enjoying productivity increases which they enable. Other participants felt that this approach would not be helpful to the South.
34. Participants welcomed the fact, reported in para. 50, that agriculture is the only economic sector named specifically under NEPAD’s first Action Plan, reflecting the fact that it directly affects the livelihoods of over 70% of Africa’s people.
35. As regards para. 55, the important role which INGOs had played in collaborating with FAO over the last decade should be highlighted. The Ad Hoc Group of INGO Representatives residing in Rome has been active since 1979.
36. With reference to the concluding paras, 56 to 61, several delegates expressed their opinion that some radical re-thinking was necessary about the approach to eliminating hunger. The neo-liberal approach which advocates the privatisation of water, seeds and land is inappropriate for the fight against hunger. It is necessary to create a new “mind-set” which puts the food producer at the centre of the picture. One participant warned against accelerating efforts, as suggested in para. 63, but in the wrong direction. Concurring with other speakers about the need for food sovereignty, he proposed that three criteria should be respected in assessing the effectiveness of international governance of food and agriculture: democratic choice, effective control of threats in relation to food safety, and a priority to food sovereignty. It was also emphasized that the trade issues discussed in the morning session were not a separate topic but an integral part of an overall approach to fight hunger.
37. The chair then invited Mr Pingali and Ms Clayton to reply. Both welcomed the exchange of views. It was pointed out that many important points raised in the dialogue had not been included in the paper because the document addressed only the more recent initiatives that have been undertaken as follow-up to the World Food Summit and the World Food Summit:fyl.
38. The meeting closed with a stimulating dialogue session on evolutions in relations between the United Nations and civil society led by Ambassador Bagher Asadi (Iran), a member of the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons appointed by the Secretary-General of the UN to review and make recommendations to him on this question.
39. The participants strongly recommended that an opportunity be provided for this report to be formally represented to the Conference.
ASSOCIATED COUNTRY WOMEN OF THE WORLD (ACWW)
Ms Carmela Basili
CARITAS INTERNATIONALIS (CI)
Mr Stefano Verdecchia
Ms Silvia Ribeiro
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF AGRICULTURAL ECONOMISTS (IAAE)
Ms Margaret Loseby
Ms Ornella Arimondo
INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE OF WOMEN (IAW)
Ms Bettina Corke
INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION FOR ANIMAL RECORDING (ICAR)
Mr Juahni Maki-Hakkonen
INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ON IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE (ICID)
Ms Maria Elisa Venezian Scarascia
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATIVE ALLIANCE (ICA)
Mr Lino Visani
INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN (ICW)
Ms Lydie Rossini v.H.
INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION FOR HOME ECONOMICS (IFHE)
Ms Francesca Ronchi Proja
INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION FOR ORGANIC AGRICULTURE MOVEMENT (IFOAM)
Ms Cristina Grandi
INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCERS (IFAP)
Mr Nils Farnet
Ms Hildegunn Gjengedal (Norwegian Farmers Union)
Mr David King
Ms Paola Ortensi
Mr John Wilkinson
INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF WOMEN IN LEGAL CAREERS (IFWLC)
Ms Teresa Assenzio Brugiatelli
Ms Antonietta Cescut
Ms Angelina Hurios Calcerrada
INTERNATIONAL NGO/CSO PLANNING COMMITTEE FOR FOOD SOVEREIGNTY (IPC)
Mr Antonio Onorati (Crocevia)
Mr Andrea Ferrante (AIAB)
Mr Karim Akrout (Association for the Protection of Nature and Environment – Kairouan, APNEK Tunisia)
Ms Tatyana M. Bragina (Naurzum, Kazakhstan)
Mr Cosme Caracciolo (Confederación Nacional de Pescadores Artesanales – CONAPACH, Chile)
Mr Luca Colombo
Mr Ali Darwish (Greenline Association, Lebanon)
Ms Beatriz Gasco Verdier
Mr Biplap Halim (Institute for Motivating Self-Employment - IMSE, India)
Mr Kenton Lobe (Canadian Foodgrains Bank)
Mr Aksel Naersted (The Development Fund, Norway)
Ms Maryam Rahmanian (Cenesta, Iran)
Mr Pierre Verrault (Conseil Canadien des Pęcheurs Professionnels)
INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE (IPSA)
Mr Arthur Getz Escudero
INTERMEDIATE TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT GROUP (ITDG)
Mr Thilak Kariyawasam (Green Movement of Sri Lanka)
Mr Patrick Mulvany
MOVIMIENTO AGROECOLÓGICO LATINOAMERICANO (MAELA)
Mr Mario Ahumada
PESTICIDE ACTION NETWORK REGIONAL-CENTRES (PAN-RC)
Ms Sarojeni V. Rengam
RESEAU DES ORGANISATIONS PAYSANNES ET DE PRODUCTEURS AGRICOLES DE L’AFRIQUE DE L’OUEST (ROPPA)
Mr Ndiogou Fall
SOUTHEAST ASIA REGIONAL INSTITUTE FOR COMMUNITY EDUCATION (SEARICE)
Ms Elenita Dano
Mr Rene Salazar
SOROPTIMIST INTERNATIONAL (SI)
Ms Carmela Basili
Mr Paul Nicholson
Ms Francisca Rodríguez (Asociación Nacional de Mujeres Rurales y Indígenas, ANAMURI)
WOMEN’S INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE FOR PEACE AND FREEDOM (WILPF)
Ms Anita Fisicaro
WORLD ASSOCIATION OF GIRL GUIDES AND GIRL SCOUTS (WAGGGS)
Ms Alessia Boschin
Ms Giovanna Cavarocchi
Mr Massimo de Luca
Mr Daniele Rinaldi
Ms Alessandra Silvi
WORLD FAMILY ORGANISATION (WFO, ex IUFO)
Mr Sandro Vota
WORLD FEDERATION OF TRADE UNION (WFTU)
Ms Annalaura Casadei
WORLD FORUM OF FISH HARVESTERS AND FISHWORKERS
Mr Pedro Avendano
WORLD UNION OF CATHOLIC WOMEN’S ORGANIZATION (WUCWO)
Ms Carla Romersi
Ms Maria Giovanna Ruggieri
Mr Victor Manuel Alanis Moreno, Union General Obrera, Campesina y Popular (Mexico) PPB- MA
Mr Rodolfo Araya Villalobos, Universidad Costa Rica
Mr Pablo Balbontín, free-lance journalist
Mr Richard Hoehn, Bread for the World Institute
Mr Javier Pasquire L., CIPRES, Nicaragua
PANEL OF EMINENT PERSONS ON UNITED NATIONS-CIVIL SOCIETY RELATIONS
Ambassador Bagher Asadi (Iran)
Ms Zehra Aydin
Mr John Clarke
UN AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Ms Tiffany Babington
Mr Roger Comforth
Mr Henri Carsalade, TCD
Mr Hartwig de Haen, ES
Ms Eva Clayton, SAD
Mr Prabhu Pingali, ESAD
Mr Kostas Stamoulis, ESAE
Ms Genevieve Coullet, ESAF
Mr Edgardo Valenzuela, GIDN
Ms Sylvana Ntaryamira, RAF
Mr Jean Balie, TCAS
Mr Eckhard W. Hein, TCDS
Ms Nora McKeon, TCDS
Mr Thomas Price, TCDS
Ms Aysen Tanyeri-Abur, TCDS
Mr Diego Colatei, TCDS
Ms Patricia Mejias, TCDS
Mr Erik Plaisier, TCDS
Ms Stefania Maurelli, TCDS
Mr Kevin Gallagher, TCOS