Based on our long experience working with farmers and agricultural communities around the world, and with our governments at national and international levels, EAA welcome this opportunity to submit the following points for consideration to the Zero Draft Political Outcome document.
1. Do you have any general comments on the draft political declaration and its vision (paragraphs 1-3 of the zero draft)?
- EAA’s overall assumption is that the text was drafted with inputs received from the food and agriculture sector. It seems, however, there was little involvement from the health sector.
- The tone is not sufficiently action-oriented.
- Malnutrition in itself is an indicator of the violation (or non-realization) of the Right to Food.
- Due to the global increase in obesity (and the consequent burden of disease), EAA would like to see stronger emphasis on this issue, including in Para 1.
2. Do you have any comments on the background and analysis provided in the political declaration (paragraphs 4-20 of the zero draft)?
- Para 7: EAA would like to see the statement on breastfeeding go beyond just the exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, to include the recommendation of continued breastfeeding for 24 months and beyond as part of good infant and young child feeding practices.
- Para 9: EAA would include the specific reference that more sustainable food systems also work to realize the right to food. We would also include that the people involved in our food system, both as consumers and producers, are central and should have ownership and decision making power.
- Para 10: EAA appreciates the emphasis on the quality of the food produced rather than simply the quantity. We have made great strides to increase food production in the last several decades; however, we have not been successful in solving global nutrition security challenges. Simply increasing production alone will not address the root causes of hunger and malnutrition. More systematic emphasis on nutrition is needed; apart from better food systems (that deliver good quality food in sufficient quantity), health systems that provide adequate care and health services (especially to young children, their care takers and women/mothers) as well as proper sanitation and hygiene.
- Para 11: EAA would like the drafters to reconsider the use of the reference to “Climate Smart Agriculture” in this Accord. The definition of “Climate Smart Agriculture” itself is not problematic, but how it is used and its political context makes it highly problematic. "Climate Smart Agriculture" has been criticized and resisted by many social and farming movements around the world, as it can also refer to highly contentious technologies such as GMOs or other technologies that have controversial social, environmental and nutritional impacts. It is also linked to carbon credit generation, which does not work for small-scale farmers and for which there is an enormous upfront transaction cost and questionable climate benefits. The FAO report even acknowledges that. It basically says that “climate smart agriculture” is any approach that results in lower emissions and will also help farmers adapt to climate change. But by conflating these terms, the text ignores all the other aspects of adaption that are not covered under this notion.
- Para 11: We are grateful that the text acknowledges the devastating impact that climate change is having and will continue to have on the global food and agriculture system. These impacts are set to intensify in the coming years, both through extreme climatic events such as droughts, floods, fires, tornadoes and hurricanes, but also the slow-onset effects of global temperature rise, rainfall variability and changes in soil moisture. To increase community resilience in the face of climate change, we need to strengthen local food systems using an ecosystem-based model of agriculture. For example, agroecological methods of food production considers aspects such as soil health and wider use of crop varieties and local breeds, and combines traditional knowledge with modern technologies that are well adapted to the needs of smallholder farmers and respect the local context. This includes ensuring that farmers have access to and control over the natural resources that they need (land, water, and a diversity of locally-adapted seeds that can respond to a range of difference climate challenges); enabling farmers to diversify their diets throughout the year by planting crops that ripen at different times; and replenishing the soil with nitrogen and organic matter to improve production of nutritious food.
- Para 11: It would be good if we could further emphasize the potential of reducing food waste, maybe by moving it up in the same paragraph to the second sentence. This paragraph should state that food systems should not be just “sustainably managed" but rather sustainable in themselves, which would then follow nicely into the issue about food waste and climate change.
- Para 12: EAA agrees that having good policies in place is one step. However translating policy into action, particularly for the most vulnerable, is often non-existent. We recommend a national multi-sectoral mechanism that would hold various sectors accountable to policies, connected to a local level accountability mechanism.
- Para 14: EAA supports the mention of the specific role of government to protect consumers from misleading commercial messages. However it would also be wise to clearly state who should be responsible for educating people about what good nutrition is. Awareness of what is good food and what is good nutrition for people of different ages is essential in a situation where some 40% of children in East and South Asia and Eastern Africa are suffering from malnutrition when food in fact is available.
- Para 17: EAA highlights the need to emphasize the importance of using evidence to inform decision making in the development of nutrition policy and program implementation.
- Para 19: EAA appreciates the specific mention of ‘faith organizations’ however one does not find mention of the implications of society, culture and religion affecting nutrition. There are many examples where culture or religion inhibits the consumption of certain foods, sometimes with positive health effects, sometimes with negative health effects, such as the exclusion of certain nutritious foods during pregnancy.
- Para 20: EAA recommends the inclusion of the need for competency development in nutrition to fulfill this point.
- Finally, it would be good to include an extra paragraph to emphasize the importance of health services and care and a clean environment, such as drinking water, sanitation.
3. Do you have any comments on the commitments proposed in the political declaration? In this connection, do you have any suggestions to contribute to a more technical elaboration to guide action and implementation on these commitments (paragraphs 21-23 of the zero draft)?
Commitment I: Aligning our food systems (systems for food production, storage and distribution) to people’s health needs
EAA recommends the addition ‘and people’s right to adequate food and nutrition’ at the end.
Commitment V: establishing governments’ leadership for shaping food systems.
EAA would like the consideration of adding:
- Governance mechanisms that ensures accountability for implementation of policy to reach the most vulnerable.
- Allocation of resources to ensure the policy is turned into action.
- Commitment to launch a Decade of Action on Nutrition guided by a Framework for Action and to report biennially on its implementation to FAO, WHO and ECOSOC.
- Clear targets and timeframe for the above commitments.
In addition, EAA lends its support to the key recommendations on nutrition available in the annex of the final report - The transformative potential of the right to food - by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter. (A/HRC/25/57)
- Adopt statutory regulations on the marketing of food products, as the most effective way to reduce marketing of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, sodium and sugar (HFSS foods) to children, and restrict marketing of these foods to other groups;
- Impose taxes on soft drinks (sodas), and on HFSS foods, in order to subsidize access to fruits and vegetables and educational campaigns on healthy diets;
- Adopt a plan for the complete replacement of trans-fatty acids with polyunsaturated fats;
- Review the existing systems of agricultural subsidies, in order to take into account the public health impacts of current allocations, and use public procurement schemes for school-feeding programmes and for other public institutions to support the provision of locally sources, nutritious foods; and
- Transpose into domestic legislation the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and the WHO recommendations on the marketing of breast-milk substitutes and of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children, and ensure their effective enforcement.
The private sector should:
- Comply fully with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, [and subsequent relevant WHA resolutions] and comply with the WHO recommendations on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children, even where local enforcement is weak or non-existent;
- Abstain from imposing nutrition-based interventions where local ecosystems and resources are able to support sustainable diets, and systematically ensure that such interventions prioritize local solutions;
- Shift away from the supply of HFSS foods and towards healthier foods and phase out the use of trans-fatty acids in food processing.
In closing, EAA supports the comment by Prof. Ted Greiner that “there needs to be explicit mention of the need to switch from product-based nutrition programming (provision of vitamin A capsules and RUSF) to programming aimed at improving diets based on local foods.”
We look forward to learning more from the organizers about how they plan to ensure the meaningful participation of civil society organizations during the on-going and further preparations of ICN2, during the meeting itself, as well as during its follow-up. We have not commented on this issue in this submission but would be happy to do so when an appropriate framework is in place.
Background and Introduction
Inspired by Christian ethics and human rights principles, members and partners of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) advocate for justice and dignity for all, and especially for the poorest and most marginalized who are typically overlooked in policy-making and implementation. Our international alliances represent tens of millions of Christians around the world who support smallholder farmers, whose production capacity is the foundation of food security in much of the developing world, but whose interests are routinely ignored in relevant policy and practice.
EAA members and partners have been involved in the food and nutrition security discussions for more than a decade and will continue to follow developments within this context with high interest to ensure that global food security and the protection of basic human rights, including the right to food. We will strive to ensure that decisions taken during the ICN2 are consistent with what has been agreed within Committee on World Food Security.