Committee on World Food Security

Making a difference in food security and nutrition

At HLPF 2021, CFS Calls for Strengthened Global Policy Coordination for SDG-2 amid COVID-19

14 Jul 2021

Food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture are central to the 2030 Agenda, and are crucial for achieving all of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.  However, the world is not on track to achieve these targets.

According to this year's edition of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, around a tenth of the global population - up to 811 million people - were undernourished in 2020. Overall, more than 2.3 billion people (or 30 percent of the global population) lacked year-round access to adequate food. A full three-billion adults and children remained locked out of healthy diets, largely due to excessive costs.

These numbers are not only staggering but suggest it will take a tremendous action by all stakeholders for the world to honour its pledge to end hunger by 2030.  

To this end, the Rome-based Committee on World Food Security (CFS), in partnership with the Dominican Republic, organized a side event at the 2021 HLPF. Focusing on global policy coordination for SDG 2 and CFS’ work on COVID-19, the side event was an opportunity for CFS to share its experience in conducting policy convergence work in an inclusive, evidence-based, consensus-based platform – unique to the United Nations.

“The task and challenge ahead is daunting. We have to act with urgency to transform our food systems. CFS is doing its part to promote policy changes to address these problems. Set up in 1974 and reformed in 2009, CFS is the UN’s foremost inclusive inter-governmental platform to address governance of food security and nutrition,” said CFS Chairperson Thanawat Tiensin.

Speakers at the event were drawn from CFS member states, the UN, CFS’ High-Level Panel of Experts (CFS HLPE), and the self-organizing Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) and Civil Society Mechanism (CSM).

“The Dominican Republic is co-hosting this event since it believes in multilateralism. We believe that the potential for resolving all problems resides in the collective wisdom of every country and of all stakeholders,” said Ambassador Mario Arvelo, Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to FAO, IFAD and WFP and former CFS Chairperson. Ambassador Arvelo further added that “CFS needs to complete the reforms called for in 2009 if it is to effectively play its role in addressing the complex challenges of hunger and malnutrition.”

Speaking to the science-policy interface and evidence-based work of the CFS High-Level Panel of Experts (CFS HLPE) including on COVID-19, Jennifer Clapp, member of the HLPE Steering Committee said: “HLPE provides independent scientific assessments as requested by CFS by incorporating different kinds of knowledge (scientific, farmer, and indigenous), and through an even-handed approach to controversial issues. This work ensures that the policy recommendations by CFS are scientifically sound.”

The 90-minute side event also discussed application of CFS policy products, especially the recently-endorsed CFS Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition to achieve food systems transformation.

Speaking on the role of UN agencies in the work of CFS, Dr Naoko Yamamoto, Chair of UN Nutrition and Assistant Director-General at the World Health Organization (WHO) expressed the support of UN agencies to the work of CFS. “UN Nutrition is proud to be part of CFS. We will continue working with CFS to drive the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines (VGFSN) at the national level.”

Staying with the theme of country level uptake of CFS products, Gerda Verburg, Coordinator of the UN Scaling Up Nutrition Movement and former CFS Chairperson said that negotiating and endorsing guidelines is just the beginning. “The SUN Movement works through government appointed focal points who chair national multistakeholder platforms. We have activated our entire network of national partners to promote the use of the CFS policy products especially the guidelines on food systems and nutrition, as this is the only way to make a difference.”

Ms Verburg added that more action is needed and urged all ambassadors in Rome, many of whom negotiated the guidelines on behalf of their countries, to take the guidelines back to their countries and share them with not only the ministries of agriculture but all those that have relevance to addressing hunger and malnutrition.

Coming ahead of the pre-Summit of the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), the side event also looked at the role of CFS in shaping the discussions and outcomes of the Summit. “The relevance of the CFS voluntary guidelines on food systems and nutrition to the Summit is evident. The guidelines are a clear, concrete tool negotiated by governments and others to address the crisis of hunger and malnutrition in all its forms through a food systems perspective,” said Rick White, Chair of the CFS Private Sector Mechanism (PSM). Mr White added that PSM believes the UNFSS should strengthen, and not duplicate, work already done by CFS.

Decrying the impact of COVID-19 on global hunger and malnutrition, André Luzzi of the Habitat International Coalition based in Brazil and a member of the Coordination Committee of the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSM) for CFS said everything must be done to support the most vulnerable people to deal with the effects of the pandemic. He further expressed CSM’s position that the UN Food Systems Summit should have been convened under the auspices of CFS, and he invited participants to a CSM-led “parallel” Summit event.

Wrapping up the event, CFS Secretary Chris Hegadorn thanked speakers and participants urging all to join CFS in its ongoing work to achieve global food security and nutrition targets especially in light of COVID-19. “While we are all disheartened by the SOFI numbers, we should use this reality to hasten our urgency to act, including by translating CFS products into action at the country level.”

 

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