Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

Attached, please read the official CSIPM's comments on the Zero Draft of the HLPE report. The overarching comment please read below. 

Overall comment

The Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples Mechanism (CSIPM) once more reconfirms its recognition of the relevance the report “Reducing Inequalities for food security and nutrition” has. We welcome the fact that the CFS addresses this issue, being informed by an HLPE report on this topic. We recognize the general direction of the zero draft and its recognition of growing inequalities and that inequalities exist on many different levels throughout and beyond food systems (e.g. between and within nations) as well as the different histories of the marginalization and colonization of certain countries, regions, and populations.

However, the zero draft should be more explicit in the role of neoliberalism in deepening and sustaining inequalities of class, social status or caste within countries and widening the gap among countries. We therefore suggest locating the contradictions generated by capitalism and the current neoliberal model. Because the overarching issue lies in fact that the very nature of the neoliberal economic system is based on maximizing profit for shareholders rather than collective respect for the needs of people and planet and the governance thereof. Moreover, the financialization of our food systems remains a highly unaddressed issue, even though speculation and unregulated agricultural markets have been shown to cause hunger and inaccessible food prices. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown how it continues to concentrate income and wealth from the exploitation of people and natural resources.

During the pandemic it has been made evident how current models of production and consumption are based on the concentration of wealth and income. While hunger and poverty are rampant and workers can take up to 20 years to recover the purchasing power of their wages, the wealthiest private sectors – also in the food and agricultural sector – have made exorbitant profits. Since 1995, the top 1% have gained almost 20 times more of global wealth than the bottom 50% of humanity. The Pandemic has worsened inequalities with wealth of the 10 richest men doubling while the income of 99% of humanity are worse off. As a response, 73 countries face prospect of IMF backed austerity measures, risking worsening inequalities between countries and in countries.

Considering increased inequalities in and between countries, the report should include as central areas redistribution measures and fiscal policies. Important proposals and practices in this regard are debt cancellation, progressive taxes on capital and wealth, tax evasion, common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, windfall taxes on exceptional profits in times of crises, subsidies, overseas development aid, as well as measures to redistribute power in decision-making and power in the economy. A strong alternative is the social and solidarity economy that focuses on collective rather than individual wealth and human rights (including the right to food). Social and solidarity economies embrace cooperatives and other forms of collective creation of wealth with the voices of the constituencies playing a key and determining role, it provides both agency and empowerment. Therefore we encourage the HLPE to define social and solidarity economy within their report, taking into consideration the ILO's Conference Conclusions on Decent work and Social and Solidarity Economy and the support it has gotten by Secretary General António Guterres.

Before sharing our detailed comments below, sorted by chapter, we would like to point out some overarching comments about the conceptual framework.

We highly appreciate that the “engine of inequity” has a rights-based approach as its basis where food insecurity and malnutrition are seen as injustices for which duty-bearers are accountable. We also recognize the attempt to bring social justice into the framework.

However, from our point of view, the conceptual framework contains some shortcomings. First, the language that has been used reinforces systems of inequity. For example while referring to “the poor “ or “poor populations” instead of people with low incomes or low wealth populations. Therefore, a more inclusive language that puts people first should be used. Second, intersectionality should be considered as an aspect of critical race theory in terms of looking at the concepts of race and racism, and the construction of social, political, legal structures, institutional systems and the power distribution that impact food and nutrition security. It is important to act systemically and consider intersectionality, with effective institutions capable of guaranteeing rights, particularly the human right to adequate food and nutrition, and of strengthening social protection, food reserves and other inclusive strategies. The report should be looking at the processes of racialization which are wrongly ascribed to racism here. By influencing these structures and changing them is where the greatest long term real impact can occur. Racism generally means believing that a person's behavior is determined by stable inherited characteristics deriving from separate racial stocks; each of these distinctive attributes is then evaluated in relation to ideas of superiority and inferiority. This implies that there is a social construction in which certain groups of people are superior to others. This social construction is the result of social, economic, and political factors that have ascribed power to some groups, while leaving others powerless. As such the report should be looking at both Racialization and Racism. By influencing these structures and changing them is where the greatest long term real impact can occur.

A comprehensive analysis of the institutional roles and responsibilities to ensure the realization of human rights is required, from local authorities up to the global level, as well as between types of actors (executive, legislative and judiciary powers, rights holders), in which strengthening the judiciary powers to protect rights must be particularly considered.

Representation is an aspect of participation and not interchangeable. Participation and representation are two fundamental elements and principles of democracy. They affirm that a democracy is dependent on its citizens and those most impacted by systems of inequities and that this ownership is expressed through meaningful participation by and representation of all citizens and people in democratic institutions and processes.