Committee on World Food Security

Making a difference in food security and nutrition


Despite the efforts of many, persistent hunger and malnutrition remains the norm for millions of human beings. The food crisis of 2007–08, followed by the financial and economic crisis in 2009, continuing in 2012, drew stark attention to the daily challenges faced by millions of families around the world in their attempt to overcome hunger and poverty and seek stable livelihoods that support a just and dignified way of life.


Faced with rising hunger and fragmented governance for food security and nutrition, Member States of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) agreed at the Committee’s 34th Session in October 2008 to embark on an ambitious reform. The CFS Reform, endorsed by all CFS Member States in 2009 , redefines CFS vision and roles, aiming at constituting “the foremost inclusive international and intergovernmental platform for a broad range of committed stakeholders to work together in a coordinated manner and in support of country-led processes towards the elimination of hunger and ensuring food security and nutrition for all human beings”.

CFS Membership is open to all Member States of FAO, WFP or IFAD, or non-member States of FAO that are Member States of the United Nations, and its Participants include: representatives of UN Agencies and bodies with a specific mandate in the field of food security and nutrition; civil society and non-governmental organizations and their networks; international agricultural research systems; international and regional financial institutions; and representatives of private-sector associations and private philanthropic foundations. The decisions of CFS are adopted on the basis of consensus among Member States, who have sole voting rights.

The vision of the reformed CFS is to “strive for a world free from hunger where countries implement the voluntary guidelines for the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security” (CFS Reform Document, para 4). The main roles for CFS, to be implemented gradually, are defined as providing a platform to promote better coordination at global, regional and national levels; promote policy convergence; facilitate support and advice to countries and regions; and promote accountability and share best practices at all levels   (See CFS Reform Document paras 5 and 6, for the full explanation of those roles).

CFS debate and decision-making are supported with structured expertise through the creation of a High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) so that the decisions and recommendations of CFS are based on hard evidence and state of the art knowledge. The FAO Conference instituted CFS as a Committee hosted in FAO, with a Joint Secretariat composed by FAO, IFAD and WFP.

Non-governmental actors were called to organize themselves autonomously in order to facilitate their interaction and engagement with the Committee, which led to the creation of the Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) and Private Sector Mechanism (PSM). At the same time, several countries and regional organizations and mechanisms are actively debating ways to deepen their engagement in and links to CFS’s initiatives and deliberations.


This Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition (GSF) is a single, living document annually approved by CFS Plenary. Its purpose is to improve coordination and guide synchronized action by a wide range of stakeholders. The GSF shall be flexible so that it can be adjusted as priorities change. The main added value of the GSF is to provide an overarching framework and a single reference document with practical guidance on core recommendations for food security and nutrition strategies, policies and actions validated by the wide ownership, participation and consultation afforded by CFS.

The GSF is not a legally binding instrument. It offers guidelines and recommendations for catalysing coherent action at the global, regional and country levels by the full range of stakeholders, while emphasizing the primary responsibility of governments and the central role of country ownership of programmes to combat food insecurity and malnutrition.

The GSF emphasizes policy coherence and is addressed to decision- and policy-makers responsible for policy areas with a direct or indirect impact on food security and nutrition, such as trade, agriculture, health, environment, natural resources and economic or investment policies. These guidelines and recommendations should be interpreted and applied in accordance with national policies, legal systems and institutions. The GSF is also an important tool to inform the actions of policy-makers and decision-makers, development partners, cooperation and humanitarian agencies, as well as international and regional organizations, financial institutions, research institutions, civil society organizations (CSOs), the private sector, NGOs, and all other relevant stakeholders acting in the food security and nutrition fields at global, regional and country levels.

The GSF consolidates relevant recommendations adopted by CFS Plenary and takes into account other existing frameworks, guidelines and coordination processes at all levels; country-level experience and stocktaking; best practices, lessons learned and evidence-based knowledge. It aims to reflect – not exhaustively – the existing state of consensus across governments, with inputs by the full spectrum of CFS stakeholders, including resource partners, international organizations, academia, development banks, foundations, CSOs and the private sector. The GSF, as a dynamic instrument, is updated annually to incorporate decisions and recommendations adopted by CFS Plenary, as appropriate.

In line with the mandate of CFS Plenary, the GSF draws on a number of earlier frameworks and is intended to complement them and ensure coherence between them. In particular it draws upon the World Food Summit Plan of Action and the Rome Declaration on World Food Security, the Final Declaration of the 2009 World Summit on Food Security, the Voluntary Guidelines to support the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security (VGRtF) , the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT) , the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (RAI) , the Framework for Action for Food Security and Nutrition in Protracted Crises (FFA) and the outcomes of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2).

Other documents that have contributed to preparation of the GSF include, but are not limited to: the United Nations Updated Comprehensive Framework for Action (UNCFA), the G-8 L’Aquila Joint Statement on Global Food Security, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Strategy for 2016-2020: From Inspiration to Impact  and the Final Declaration of the International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ICARRD) . In addition to global frameworks, a number of regional frameworks such as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP)  also have also contributed.


For the purposes of this document, references to small-scale food producers or to smallholder farmers are meant to include smallholder farmers, agriculture and food workers, artisanal fisherfolk, pastoralists, indigenous peoples and the landless. Particular attention should be given to women and youth (CFS Reform Document para. 11 ii).

Food security

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. The four pillars of food security are availability, access, utilization and stability. The nutritional dimension is integral to the concept of food security and to the work of CFS (As defined in the CFS Reform Document)

The right to adequate food

States party to the Iternational Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights  (ICESCR)  of 1966, recognized:

“…the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food (…) and to the continuous improvement of living conditions”(Article 11, para. 1) as well as “the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger”(Article 11, para. 2).

The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR) (E/C.12/1999/5 – General Comment 12 , pp 6, 8 and 13)  has given a definition of the right to adequate food:
“The right to adequate food is realized when every man, woman and child, alone or in community with others, have physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement. The core content of the right to adequate food implies (...) the availability of food in a quantity and quality sufficient to satisfy the dietary needs of individuals, free from adverse substances, and acceptable within a given culture (and) the accessibility of such food in ways that are sustainable and that do not interfere with the enjoyment of other human rights (...) Accessibility encompasses both economic and physical accessibility.”