Committee on World Food Security

Making a difference in food security and nutrition

27 May 2022 | Remarks by CFS Chair at the High Level Event on the 10th Anniversary of the CFS VGGT

27 May 2022

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Excellencies, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

A warm welcome to all of you to this high level event, jointly organized by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and FAO, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the CFS Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests that were developed, negotiated and adopted at CFS on 11 May, 2012.

While there are many significant achievements to be celebrated in terms of how the VGGTs have been used, globally, in this past decade to improve land governance and strengthen tenure rights, the fact of the matter is, there remains a substantial gap between global guidance and actual practice in many countries.  And, while we can be proud that the VGGTs have been singled out as the global reference document on land tenure at the UN FCCC’s COP 26 in Glasgow -- linked to forests and indiginous communities, and at UNCCD’s COP 15 just two weeks ago, we must not lose sight of the fact that pressure on land has never been higher, and threats to the secure tenure rights of hundreds of millions of people are increasing.

Distinguished delegates, today, more than 800 million people go to bed hungry. This number is growing by day. Healthy diets remain costly and out of reach for billions of people, and diet-related diseases have become the world’s number one killer. COVID 19 and the war in Ukraine have made the situation truly dire.

Through widespread land degradation and soil depletion, biodiversity loss and climate change, global food security is threatened, livelihoods of the most vulnerable populations are endangered, and the planet’s health (and ours) is jeopardized. Food and agriculture, as we all know, are very closely implicated.

Through the VGGTs and the CFS’s many other policy tools, you have time-tested resources that can help you and your governments achieve the 2030 sustainable development goals, and contribute meaningfully to shaping your national transition pathways to end hunger, malnutrition, and extreme poverty.

We applaud UNCCD’s work linking the CFS VGGT to land degradation neutrality and further prevention of desertification through their just-concluded COP 15 in Cote d’Ivoire, which I attended.  We were also thrilled to see the CFS VGGT at the heart of the Forests Pledge at the UNFCCC COP-26 in Glasgow last November. 

Ideally, you can help us ensure that land tenure, utilizing the CFS VGGT, is also part of the UN Convention on Biodiversity (UNCBD)’s work later this year and into the future.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

We need to act now in this Decade of Action to manage our resources sustainably – especially to improve how we govern and manage our land, fisheries and forests, and how we respect the basic human rights of those we know are doing the most to protect those priceless natural resources.

To do this, we need to take FOUR priority actions:

  • FIRST, recommit to utilizing existing globally-agreed frameworks such as the VGGTs in our policies, strategies, legislation, and regulatory frameworks;
  • SECOND, seek integration by adopting a “food systems” approach;
  • THIRD, think and act local, by focusing attention on inclusive governance at the landscape and territorial levels, to localize the SDGs; and,
  • FOURTH, connect globally by using CFS as our unique, inclusive platform to:
    • foster dialogue; 
    • achieve global consensus on difficult policy and political issues; and
    • share the progress you lead in your countries on National Pathways towards sustainable and inclusive food systems.

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 more action where it is needed most.

Thank you again for joining us today, and to contributing your experiences and ideas for how we can accomplish more, together, at this 10-year commemoration event.