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Re: Invitation to an open discussion on the political outcome document of the ICN2

Andrew MacMillan Formerly FAO, Italy


We have been asked to comment on the zero draft of a “political outcome document”. It seems to have been written in a mode that became fashionable in the Summits, including the food summits, that preceded the launch of the MDGs. And so it touches on almost every aspect of food and nutrition, often in rather bland language, but carefully sidesteps the making by governments of any commitments for the implementation of which they can be held accountable.

The authors may claim that the commitments made at ICN2 will relate to the proposed “Framework” and “Decade of Action”, referred to in the last paragraphs – but, even here, the language is vague. I quote “Recognizing that a framework for collective commitment, action and results is needed …… and agree to the following commitments:…..” And, here again, the listed commitments are ones of good general intent but non-monitorable!

I suspect the problem arises because, following not very convincing precedents, the draft political outcome document has been prepared separately and ahead of the Plan of Action. Surely what we need first is the Plan of Action and then the Political Outcome Document, which becomes the vehicle through which participating governments collectively and individually commit themselves to its implementation and indicate their willingness to be held accountable for results. The POD would thus become a very short statement of commitments, which would refer to the more detailed PoA.

I am raising this general point now because I believe that, if the eventual POD bears any semblance to the present draft, ICN2 will be perceived as a lost opportunity to get hard decisions taken on actions at international, regional, national, corporate and individual levels which will put an end to a situation in which, even though adequate food is produced, the health of more than half the human population is being damaged by bad nutrition. And this is happening when we know most of the solutions but lack the courage to apply them.

I would dearly like to see ICN2 become a turning point in the way in which the global community faces up to nutritional issues –in which countries, rich and poor, come together to address one of the greatest threats to humanity through committing themselves to joint and individual actions intended to maximise the global public good rather than to respond to narrow national or vested interests. We are the first generation of humans to live in a strongly globalised system – especially as it relates to food management – and we must do all in our power to make it work for everyone’s benefit – including for the wellbeing of future generations.

We must create a situation in which all people can eat healthily, with food produced sustainably.

We must never forget that the present food management system allowed 258,000 people to die in Somalia 3 years ago, and still leaves over 800 million people needlessly exposed to premature death because of our failure to apply proven solutions.

I propose that the Secretariat, which drafted the POD, put it aside for now and, instead concentrate all efforts on drafting a robust Framework and Decade of Action Programme – making this the centre of attention for the Conference and preceding consultations.  The POD would then be redrafted as a statement of political commitment to implement the proposed Framework/Decade.