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Steve Wearne: "Ensuring an effective and efficient Commission meeting is a shared responsibility"


With the 46th Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC46) starting next week at FAO HQ, Rome, the Codex Secretariat sat down with the CAC Chairperson, Steve Wearne (United Kingdom), to talk about the Commission, how he intends to chair the meeting and the 60th anniversary of Codex.


Steve, 2023 was yet another intense year for Codex, with 14 committees returning to physical meetings. How would you describe the outcomes of this year so far?

Well, you are centainly right. It was a busy year: we saw meetings of some the regional coordinating committees as well as of our commodity and horizontal committees. The main work continues to be to elaborate the technical content of standards, guidelines, codes of practice. The outcomes this year, as every year, are hundreds of new numerical standards for additives and contaminants in food, and for residues of pesticides and veterinary drugs, as well as guidelines and codes of practice ready for discussion and hopefully adoption at CAC46.

CAC46 will also close this year’s round of Codex meetings. What are your plans for chairing the session?

First of all, I really look forward to joining everyone in person in Rome for CAC46. This is my second Commission meeting as Chairperson and I plan to take the same general approach as last year, sharing the chairing of individual agenda items with the Vice-Chairpersons. But ensuring an effective and efficient Commission meeting is a shared responsibility and Members and Observers have a role to play too. Discuss your views and any concerns openly with others in advance and be open to new opportunities to find consensus. And please do prepare your interventions, mindful of the two-minute time limit.

Steve, you frequently highlight the positive attitude of delegates attending CAC sessions and that, let me quote you, “the door of my virtual office is always open for a bilateral chat”. Do you have any special requests for CAC delegates this time and is the door still open?

The door is still open and just as Members and Observers need to prepare for the Commission meeting, the Vice-Chairpersons and I need to prepare too. Meeting and talking to Members and Observers about their expectations for the Commission and any concerns they have is a key part of that. So, please do get in touch if there is anything you would like to discuss.

This year marks also the 60th anniversary of Codex. How can Codex stay relevant also in the next 60 years and more?

That is a good question. A question that the Executive Committee subcommittee on the future of Codex has been considering over the past year or so, and there are some great ideas. There are questions relating to the modality of meetings and how we can maintain the more inclusive approach that we saw when we switched to virtual-only meetings in 2020 and 2021. A Circular Letter comment period has just closed and the Executive Committee will be considering further. There are also questions about how Codex may best respond to the changing external environment and, crucially, how we work with other multilateral bodies to address together these challenges and the transformation of food systems for the future. The subcommittee has consulted widely and the Executive Committee is now looking to see how we might best reflect these thoughts in our next strategic plan. Members and Observers should expect a Circular Letter on this early in 2024, and informal consultations led by me and the Vice-Chairpersons throughout the year.

Any final thoughts?

Just to say that the Vice-Chairpersons and I are looking forward to meeting Members and Observers in Rome to celebrate Codex@60, and preparing for a productive and efficient CAC46, hopefully avoiding the need to convene an evening session.


Learn more

CAC46 meeting page

Additional FAQ on CAC46

Codex Chairperson describes how he intends to conduct discussions on zilpaterol


Photo © WHO/Pierre Albouy