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The Private Sector Mechanism would like to thank the HLPE and CFS for this opportunity and their consideration of the present input on the V0 of the Report for purposes of improving the final report.
We look forward to participating in the CFS Reducing Inequalities Workstream in collaboration with all CFS multi-stakeholders to promote effective CFS outputs and outcomes. Please find attached input on the V0 draft and concrete suggestions for improvement.
Secretariat, Private Sector Mechanism of the Committee on World Food Security
Food and agriculture face a multitude of recent and long-standing challenges that have all led to increasing inequalities within the agrifood sector. To respond effectively, all stakeholders, including the private sector, must form alliances and partnerships that drive innovation, create jobs and advance equitable growth. With respect to SDG 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries, the Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) acknowledges the crucial role businesses can play as engines for economic growth, the creation of jobs, and promoting of economic activity throughout the value chain that does not contribute to inequality.
General observations on the Zero Draft
The PSM supports efforts to reduce inequalities in food security and nutrition and the work of the HLPE to inform us on how to do so. While there are inequalities in food security and nutrition, having enough food supply and access to it, should not be overlooked. We urge the HLPE to ensure the Report includes information based on robust science and provides an unbiased view of the issues at hand to effectively contribute to policy-making decisions. Currently the conceptual framework provided does not explain how policymakers can use the framework in practice. It would benefit from including examples that successfully showcase the use of the framework and that address all aspects of “engine of inequity”.
Furthermore, considerable research has already been done on this topic that should be reflected in the Report, including the following relevant research by the OECD https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/agriculture-and-food/making-better-policies-for-foodsystems_ddfba4de-en. In order to avoid duplication of resources and provide value to this work, please consider the OECD study on the functioning of the world’s food and agriculture system and how it can contribute to reduced hunger and the attainment of global food security. https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/agriculture-and-food/global-food-security_9789264195363-en.
The PSM would also share a more general concern regarding the way the role of the private sector is portrayed throughout the V0. The text seems overly pessimistic about the role of food manufacturers – who are mentioned as profiteering from inequalities (p.64 “It is important to note that these conditions of multidimensional poverty have provided opportunities …”) and proliferating non-nutritious food (p.109: “Big Food’s influence on market proliferation with non-nutritious foods”).
We believe the paper should acknowledge the positive work done by food manufacturers as well that can be gleaned throughout the value-chain and scaled up. For example, on improving nutrition through micronutrients and fortification, see reports from the WFP “Food fortification — enhancing the micronutrient content of commonly eaten foods — provides a cost effective and life changing solution until we can ensure healthy and nutritious diets for all.” https://www.wfp.org/publications/food-fortification. As for improvements in the healthiness of products, see https://accesstonutrition.org/app/uploads/2021/06/Global-Index-2021- Executive-Summary.pdf. There are numerous examples that can be shared on improving access to food in remote areas and ensuring food quality and safety for all consumers.
Specific references to missing concepts and issues insufficiently addressed
• Innovation and Technology:
o A more balanced view of innovation and technology is needed, as reflected by the FAO Science and Innovation Forum, which highlighted how it could address the various challenges the agrifood sector currently faces. Furthermore, food science and technology should be seen as part of the solution in achieving greater equity in food and nutrition security.
o Food science and technology has made significant contributions in reducing the cost of food through packaging and processing technologies that allow foods to be safe and stable for longer periods of time, which is acknowledged in the report, but positioned as a disadvantage for healthy diets.
o Currently, innovation and technology are listed as one of the systemic drivers and root causes of inequalities, which is a narrow and overly negative perception that does not acknowledge the potential and reality of food science and technology, among other innovations.
• Diet Quality
o P.34 – measures of diet quality at a global level could benefit from highlighting the need for harmonized diet quality assessment methods and data frameworks.
o It would be relevant to include a link to the CFS data workstream in this section.
o Certain sections referring to diet quality (page 34) use indicators such as AHEI and Global Diet Quality may not be the most suitable to reflect the global diet quality. They oversimplify by categorizing ‘(un)healthy diets’ based on adherence to dietary guidelines, especially when based on Western diets and subsequently used to assess diets in other areas of the world.
o It is also recommendable to make the distinction in diet assessments between nutrient (in)sufficiency and dietary risk factors in relation to non-communicable diseases.
o The data available from the Global Burden of Disease (https://www.healthdata.org/gbd/2019) on population health and how it varies by different regions, socioeconomic status, or ethnic groups in their country, could improve the content of this section.
o References to adult obesity prevalence needs a closer look and could benefit from looking at the following links. Prevalence is higher in advanced countries, but is rising faster in developing ones: https://www.worldobesity.org/resources/resource-library/world-obesity-a….
o Also worth checking if prevalence indeed is higher in “wealthier households” as papers draw different conclusions "Women and men with lower incomes are more likely to be obese, entrenching inequality" https://www.oecdilibrary.org/docserver/0f705cf8- en.pdf?expires=1671700345&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=46CE0FC9 08CC32041799611FFFB294CA.
o There is concern that solutions mentioned, such as on page 109 (2009 South Korean example) may be outdated and worth analyzing more closely before presenting as solutions that are replicable and efficient, considering they do not seem to be linked to output results.
• Only 12 uses of the term ‘maternal’ in the entire document/some of those in the references.
o Importance of specific nutrients for women trying to conceive/no mention of pre-conception/taking into consideration and supporting the health and nutrition requirements of those trying to conceive.
o Importance of access to a balanced and nutrient-rich diet for breastfeeding mothers to ensure their babies also get the nutrients they require.
• No reference to premature babies yet 1 in every 10 children in the world is born premature/prematurity is the world’s single biggest cause of newborn death, and the second leading cause of all child deaths, after pneumonia.
o Nutrition is an important factor in ensuring optimum long-term growth, neurodevelopment, and other health outcomes for premature babies.
o Climate change and premature births: emerging evidence suggests that climate change is also associated with a multitude of maternal and birth outcomes, such as the risk of infertility, miscarriage, Caesarean-section, premature birth, low birth weight, stillbirth, and poor infant development.
o New studies from across the globe have found that the climate crisis is damaging the health of fetuses, babies, and children – from higher climate temperatures linked to preterm birth, and wildfires doubling the risk of birth defects, to the reduction of fertility linked to air pollution. Climate change is also accelerating mosquito-borne infectious diseases, like malaria and Zika, which affect fetal health and development.
• Breast Milk Substitute (BMS)
o P.34 refers to “Breastfeeding’s inherent relationship with commerciallyproduced infant formula.” What is meant by 'inherent relationship,' and is this backed by science.
o There is little evidence to support the usual conflation made between so-called aggressive BMS marketing practices and low breastfeeding.
o References to improved breastfeeding rates in certain countries (e.g., pg.35) needs additional context, as well as references to lower rates elsewhere in order to help people understand the factors that influence breastfeeding rates.
o Practices vary significantly between food manufacturers (see page 66) which is not taken into account- as all are lumped together.
o There is no recognition of the fact that infant formula is the only safe and suitable breastmilk substitute recognized by the WHO and other governing bodies when breastfeeding is not possible or an option.
• Land inequality and resilience
o P.46 – on land inequality surprisingly notes that large scale acquisition is only linked to ‘corporate entities and international investors’. As the cited source shows, some deals are done through governments, governmental agencies or entities controlled by states.
• Agroecology o Agroecology is one approach, among others, to contribute to feeding sustainably a growing population and support countries in achieving SDGs and as such, it is startling to see it is the only agriculture approach mentioned as a structural reformation approach with implications for equity.
o This assumption is not well aligned with CFS Policy Recommendations on Agroecological and Other Innovative Approaches for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems that Enhance Food Security and Nutrition, nor with reality. As such, we trust this view will not be included in the subsequent drafts.
o This report should consider the work that the FAO has done on climate-smart agriculture, among other approaches. https://www.fao.org/climate-smartagriculture/en/ and the World Bank https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/climate-smart-agriculture.
• Informal sector
This section would benefit from the CFS work on linking smallholders to markets; namely, supporting value chain development that links smallholder farmers, and the informal food production sector, directly to the formal food processing and packaging sector thus providing smallholder farmers’ increased income, improving the accessibility of local & traditional food supply whilst improving and safeguarding food safety and nutritional value of foods. While it is important to acknowledge the informal sector as a reality within the agrifood system, its limits and challenges should also be explored. The text currently seems to only highlight the positive aspects.
o On page 57, it is said that research has found that women farmers lost control when milk was sold to chilling plants, however, this should not be the rationale to discourage farmers to sell milk to formal processors if they can.
o On page 65, informal markets are described as very good solutions for the poor, however, it is more beneficial to discuss the sustainable market models we should work towards, rather than concluding that the present situation works for the poor. All consumers should have access to safe, quality foods at prices they can afford, both poor and not so poor, and we have to find ways of including all informal smallholder producers into such formal systems.
o Smallholder farmers that are not connected to or have access to the formal market, will always have challenges and remain small, not knowing if they can sell their produce from one day to the next.
o Inequalities between farmers that are part of formal value chains and farmers that are not, can be reduced by linking producers in the informal market to processors, retailers, aggregators and markets in the formal sector.
The PSM thanks the HLPE and CFS for this opportunity and their consideration of the present input on the V0 of the Report for purposes of improving the final report. We look forward to participating in the CFS Reducing Inequalities Workstream in collaboration with all CFS multistakeholders to promote effective CFS outputs and outcomes.
The Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) is pleased to participate in the e-consultation on the V0 draft of the HLPE report “Data collection and analysis tools for food security and nutrition.” The PSM believes to effectively address the current gaps and challenges in agriculture productivity and income that help perpetuate food insecurity, there needs to be a growing recognition of the need for sharing of available, accessible and usable data for agriculture and nutrition. This requires 1) an increase in investment in high quality agriculture; 2) the promotion of better, more actionable data; 3) through the use of new sources of data; 4) the creation of an enabling environment for increased data; and 5) the exchange of data for disaster risk reduction.
With this in mind, the PSM can share the following input on the VO report which comes from its wide membership across the entire value chain; from farmers, to input providers, to cooperatives, processors, SMEs, and food companies. To facilitate the HLPE work, please also accept the attached V0 draft converted into word which suggests additions and deletions, and where possible provides comments/rationale.
- Firstly, we would like to note the overly negative tone in assessing the food system in the introduction. While there is a need to identify the failings of the food system in many areas, there have also been successes which were evident during the COVID-19 pandemic and could be cited. In a similar manner, a less than positive stance towards the private sector can be gleaned in some places, and its direct omission in many others.
- The role of the private sector appears under-appreciated throughout the document, with very few positive mentions as an existing collaborator, source of technology or data. Where private sector is mentioned, often the perspective is risk management versus a more embracing sentiment. We encourage those aspects of the report to be improved, with the understanding that expanding data collection and analysis needs to be a collaborative effort between governments, international agencies, the private sector, civil society and academia. The openness of international agencies and governments to the inputs, ideas and advice from other sources is key. As such, an environment of inclusiveness to solving potential data issues and allowing for their questioning and eventual correction should also be welcomed (see § 3.3.1, 5.1, 5.3, 5.4, 4.4.1, among other areas).
- The alignment of the document to the SDGs could be stronger, as harnessing the power of data is one of the most important tools for achieving the SDGs. The PSM notes the report clearly highlights the lack of resources; however, identifying the topics where high quality and actionable data does not currently exist could lead to more impactful investments. The PSM believes the primary focus of investment should be on the data necessary to track achievement towards the SDG indicators.
- The role of the farmer in providing and not only consuming data, and the related needs/concerns could also be developed further. The PSM looks forward to providing this insight during the upcoming process from a wider perspective, encompassing farms of all sizes, and addressing their related challenges.
Thank you for the opportunity to become involved.
FAO Core food and agricultural indicators for measuring the private sector’s contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals – IAFN Feedback
The International Agri-food Network (IAFN) applauds the effort made to respond to the gaps in-country monitoring and report to effectively recognize the significant contribution of the private sector. The present task is timely and critical to assessing the achievement against the Sustainable Development Goals.
Private Sector actors have undertaken a multitude of tasks to further the SDGs and have attempted to include them in their operating frameworks. The Private Sector is also engaged in many large-scale coordination initiatives to build trust across supply chains, ensure that business contributions to the SDGs remain positive and coherent. Moreover, advancements by business in technology and precision agriculture will aid in the development of new business models, the advanced of sustainable production and consumption practices, the tracking of data and enablement of data driven decision-making, knowledge transfer and capacity building—all of which will contribute to the delivery of the Agenda 2030.
However, the task of collecting the extent of the contribution through the proposed framework is too ambitious. Dedicating the time to review the 100+ pages of the Methodological Note of Core indicators called for by this consultation is frankly too prohibitive for many private sector actors. The scope of the work would be overwhelming for many large companies, let alone SMEs and MSMEs. It would be helpful to align more effectively with the ESG reporting of companies and to focus on fewer metrics to ensure companies can readily respond to some, if not all the information requested, without disincentivizing them from participating altogether. In this respect, we welcome a pilot project to focus on the ways to synergize this with existing systems, and to narrow the scope to those areas where business can provide the most impactful information.
On behalf of the Private Sector Mechanism, we would like to highlight the Policy Recommendations attached, which were compiled with the aim of ensuring the Voluntary Guidelines on Food System and Nutrition are both implementable and transformative. We look forward to participants' feedback and thank the secretariat in advance for their consideration.
Mme Rosemary Navarrete
On behalf of the Private Sector Mechanism (PSM), please find our submission copied below and attached.
Thank you for the opportunity to engage.
The Private Sector Mechanism thanks the CFS Secretariat for the opportunity to participate in the stocktaking exercise on the use and application of the critical policy recommendations on Price Volatility and Food Security and Social Protection for Food Security and Nutrition.
The impact of price volatility on food security and nutrition has become alarmingly clear as international food prices at an all-time high before the war due to COVID, leading to soaring food prices since the Ukraine war due to resulting food, fuel and fertilizer shortages. Valuable information provided by FAO has revealed there is no end in sight to rising prices, reducing food access and availability and thereby affecting nutrition, especially in low-income countries. Farmers are overwhelmingly over-represented in this group and subjected to variations in weather, crop failures and unexpected events, such as conflicts. Due to their share of food consumed in some regions of the Global South, smallholder agriculture should be strengthened by supporting the rate of technology adoption.
The international community has become acutely aware of the impact of the war on the global agricultural market and the effects on global food security, due to the significant role that both the Russian Federation and Ukraine play as net exporters of agricultural products. This has exposed low-income countries to increased vulnerability to shocks and volatility leading to a hunger crisis.
Within this context, with enormous challenges facing the agricultural sector, the private sector underlines the importance of trade and adherence to key principles that can combat food price volatility, including the suggested CFS actions to increase food production and availability; enhance resilience to shocks and actions to reduce volatility; and mitigate the negative impacts of volatility. Sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and resilience requires the development of new varieties of rice, maize, wheat and other crops, to become more resilient to drought, heat, pests, diseases and soil problems.
In alignment with these principles, the private sector has supported and joined initiatives to increase the exchange of information, including the participation of the Private Sector Mechanism in the Global Crisis Response Group established by the United Nations Secretary-General to coordinate the global response to the worldwide impacts of the war in Ukraine on global food, energy and finance systems.
Other activities include the inception of ‘Sustain Africa’, an emergency response and resilience initiative to support food production in Sub-Saharan Africa by mitigating the fertilizer supply and affordability crisis and improving sustainable nutrient use. Led by a consortium composed of IFA, Rabobank, Bill Gates Foundation, AGRA and AFAP, partners include a number of input companies, agriculture development and multilateral institutions and NGOs, who coordinate the distribution of donated or discounted fertilizer in 13 African countries, paired with advisory services and the provision of seeds and biological products. Where possible, the program includes finance options for agrodealers and farmers. As part of its measurement of success, Sustain Africa collects data to support a broader learning agenda on how to deal with future price spikes.