Regional Office

Voices of civil society speak up at FAO regional conference

NGOs and other civil society groups are contributing to FAO decision-making. Photo: ©FAO/Mugur VarzariuCivil society across Europe and Central Asia is contributing more to decision-making about FAO and its work than ever before.

A consensus Declaration hammered out by more than 50 representatives of NGOs and civil society organizations based in Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia was presented at the outset of the recent FAO Regional Conference for Europe (Bucharest, 2-4 April 2014).

The NGO/CSO Consultation that produced the document convened at the same venue, in the days just preceding the opening of the biennial Conference that governs FAO’s work in Europe and Central Asia.

As a sign of closer collaboration and partnership with FAO, the Consultation addressed the same key agenda items as the Regional Conference itself – the state of food and agriculture in the region, food losses and waste, and the future of family farming. In addition, spokespersons elected by the NGO/CSO group participated directly in both the 38th Session of the European Commission on Agriculture and the 29th European Regional Conference, on an equal footing with FAO Member Countries.

In their final document, participants in the NGO/CSO Consultation welcomed the FAO Strategy for Partnership with Civil Society Organizations, approved by FAO Member States in 2013. They viewed the current policy of FAO to decentralize operations as positive, presenting an opportunity for civil society to collaborate more actively at country and regional level.

They urged FAO Member Countries to implement the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests, the Global Strategic Framework of the Committee on World Food Security, and other approved documents in order to define targets and indicators for sustainable development in the post-2015 period. This was emphasized as, in their view, achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals had fallen short by some 50 percent.

One of the priorities expressed in the Declaration is to conduct assessments of the food security situation in the region, using as reference the Right to Food Guidelines, and to support governments in reviewing their food security policies in the light of the Guidelines. 

Another priority underscored by the Consultation was the promotion of decent work for all workers, enforcing their rights as defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and avoiding precarious employment.

The International Year of Family Farming was welcomed, highlighting the need for policies that are friendly towards the family farming model.

On the issue of food losses and waste, the Consultation recommended that FAO promote sustainable food systems, based on peasant family farming, improving access to markets for small-scale producers.  It also suggested that FAO evaluate the negative impact of agro-industrial farming models.

Small-scale producers, artisanal fisher folk, pastoralists, indigenous peoples, the landless, workers in the food and other rural sectors, consumers, women’s and youth organizations all were represented in the Consultation. Attendance for some of the participants from outside Romania was facilitated by FAO.

23 April 2014, Budapest, Hungary