Committee on World Food Security

Making a difference in food security and nutrition

5 May 2022 | Remarks by CFS Chair at the UNPFII Side Event on "Collective and tenure rights for sustainable Indigenous Peoples’ food and knowledge systems in the context of the 10th anniversary of the VGGT and the IYAFA 2022"

05 May 2022

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Good morning, buenos dias in New York. Un saludo especial al nuevo Presidente Sr Mejía Montalvo, mis felicitaciones. My warm congratulations to you, Mr. Chairperson.

Allow me to start by thanking the organizers, FAO, PAHO, the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture and Ekta Parishad for the opportunity to jointly reflect with you today on the key relevance for all the SDGs and for global public goods of collective and tenure rights.

I hope you liked the video, and I am glad that we join today your collective effort to press forward on securing tenure rights for those who need it the most, today very especially Indigenous communities.

I am delighted to commemorate with you the 10th anniversary of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure that where negotiated by the international community in the Committee on World Food Security and agreed in May 2012 – commonly known as the “CFS VGGTs.”

We commemorate the anniversary of the CFS VGGTs, rather than celebrate it, because the fact is that while the VGGTs are now being used in a variety of powerful, meaningful ways, there is still a substantial gap between global guidance and norms and practice in many countries: secure land tenure rights are simply not where they need to be to meet the ambition of the 2030 Agenda, either in terms of SDG Goal 15, or SDG Goal 2 on Zero Hunger.

Land and its governance is the bedrock upon which all other food security and nutrition efforts are built. Land is about healthy soils; biodiversity; water management; crops, trees and livestock; family farmers’ livelihoods, of heritage and cultures; of territories. In the case of Indigenous Peoples, protected, respected and secured collective rights to lands, territories and natural resources is not just the foundation of indigenous food systems and knowledge, but of your communities´ flourishment and often survival. Moreover, Indigenous´ Peoples´ territories very often play a key role on biodiversity stability and on carbon capture. Those are not just territorial or national, but global public goods.

The CFS VGGTs are one of the most relevant globally agreed instrument needed for making this happen. The VGGTs empowers you, your communities, your peoples. When combined with public policies and laws, they are transformative.

Rest assured Mr Chairperson, that there will be no step back, not even one inch back, on the recognition of rights.

Indeed the current global context presents multiple challenges such climate change and loss of biodiversity, growing inequalities, land related disputes, migration and involuntary resettlements: through the CFS-VGGT you have a time-tested policy document that can help you and your governments achieve the 2030 sustainable development goals, as well as your national transition pathways.

However, despite encouraging examples of implementation of the CFS VGGTs, the world’s attention on land tenure has slid down the global priority list over the years. We need to act now to improve the way land is used and governed, and how basic human rights are protected in doing so.

We are thrilled to see the CFS VGGTs at the heart of the Forests Pledge at COP-26 in Glasgow last November. 

We also applaud the UNCCD’s work linking the CFS VGGTs to land degradation neutrality and the further prevention of desertification.  I look forward to welcoming in person FAO’s technical report on this work at COP15 on 11 May in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

And, if we can jointly work to ensure that land tenure, utilizing the CFS VGGTs, is part of the UN Convention on Biodiversity (UNCBD)’s work, we will really be making substantial progress.

Concluding, Please join us on May 27, when we hold a high-level commemoration event jointly with our FAO colleagues, which is among the strongest advocate of the Guidelines, along with IFAD, the World Bank, International Land Coalition, and many of our Member countries.

CFS is delighted to contribute to those efforts, to celebrate your accomplishments to date, and to showcase success stories with the goal of scaling up even more action where it is needed most.

Thank you.