Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

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    • What are the chances of voluntary guidelines taking us somewhere near significant? (FAO has experience with other such...).

      We/you are talking of the URGENT need for global action, improved governance... Our bodies are filling with microplastics.

      We/you are talking about policies and strategies, and about providing duty bearers along the agri-food value chain recommendations and best practices. Recommendations are based on 'should' when we need 'must'. Voluntary guidelines do the former.

      I can understand this may not be realistic, but FAO is the best multilateral organ we have (I hope) so they must call a spade a spade ....and fight for it. No shame if you are defeated by the you-know-who member states that ultimately call the shots.

      Claudio in Ho Chi Minh City

      PS: what about calling for shutting down plastic production from fossil fuels? Think AND ACT upstream.


    • First of all, let me show surprise, if not appall, at thelanguage used in the intro: “…validity of the Strategy as the formal corporate documentguiding FAO-CSO engagement”.   Says a lot… You are asking us to identify andunderstand the opportunities and challenges for better and more transformativeengagement between FAO and [with] CSOs. 

      1. To date, the efforts towards SDGs have not succeeded in reducing socio-economic inequality within and between countries.


      How can FAO and CSOs work together to regain the momentum lost and work jointly to "leave no one behind”?

      First of all, here: What does it really mean to ‘leave no one behind’, as the SDGs proclaim? 

      Communities are not forgetfully left behind! It is the neoliberal policies that systematically exclude them. [Is there thus enough time to regain momentum…?]. The UN, FAO very much included, is clearly helping to establish ‘stakeholder capitalism’ as a governance model for the entire planet. The language of stakeholders is dishonest. It attempts to remove politics and interests from the analysis by blocking any distinctions in people's relationship to the fields of agriculture, food, nutrition and many other --and you are taking money from corporates! [As a cat lover, I have long experience observing the interactions between cats and birds or small rodents.  All are stakeholders in these interactions, but the birds and rodents have far more ‘at stake’]. FAO simply has to, better late than never, look at the SDGs from a human rights framework perspective --something the SDGs did not do. In that sense, let us be honest, FAO is not listening to public interest CSOs. Our inputs are ignored. [The CSIPM in the CFS was a welcome change, but now, we are not listened to. It has been frustrating].

      2. FAO seeks to accelerate transformation of agrifood systems to be more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable as a mean to achieve the 2030 agenda. 


      Let us ask what does FAO understand by agrifood system. (Efficiency is a term used by corporate agriculture). Certainly not what PICSOS have been asking for over a decade. How convenient for FAO to mention agroecology ‘passing by’ (and that is where the resilience and sustainability resides) and in the case of food sovereignty, not even mentioning it. Do remember that PICSOs decided not to back the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and withdrew: too many of our red lights were ignored --where is the inclusiveness? Well, we will not achieve the 2030 Agenda: You still have hopes?)

      What and how can CSOs contribute to such transformation to boost impact on the ground? 

      Please suggest concrete actions. Why only on the ground? The ground is our PICSOs’ turf, and we bring the feelings and demands of millions to you at FAO: to what avail?  (See above) We carried out comprehensive regional consultations that we shared with you. We cannot find much in final resolutions. Well, countries rendered rich in the North have a way to eclipse us (and eclipse is a generous term…).  

      3. Climate change threatens our ability to ensure global food security, eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development.


      What FAO and CSOs actions could maximize collective impact to adapt and/or mitigate climate change?

      Probably none right now. The problem is with fossil fuels discontinuation and a transition to a democratic green economy (plus plus) all terribly linked to transnational corporations and powerful lobbies. What can FAO and PICSOs do that is not just a bunch of pat solutions when the problem is clearly upstream? Brings me back to the neoliberalism I mentioned above. Way more mass mobilization is needed --and we are at it.  

      4. Based on your partnering experience, can you share a good example of meaningful engagement with FAO or another UN agency/development partner? Please highlight what/why it worked well in your opinion.

      Well, you can see from the above that our ‘partnership’ has been quite uneven and unsuccessful, and so are other ‘partnerships’ where partners are not on an even playing field --like cat and the rodent… Take the SUN Initiative, which FAO backstops and that promotes public-private partnerships. We note SUN says that addressing “conflicts of interest should initially start from a positive perspective, not from negative assumptions,” (Wow!) thereby ignoring that conflicts of interest represent a risk to be controlled. SUN’s Secretariat also says that “tools to manage conflicts of interest should serve as a mechanism to enable, rather than prevent partnerships.” (Hmm!) But in fact, managing conflicts of interest typically requires restricting those partnerships and activities that are full of conflicts of interest. There is a lack of clear standards to preclude engagement or requiring termination when non-state actors come in with significant conflicts of interest. (Even the IMF and World Bank have warned public-private partnerships (PPPs) “incur contingent fiscal risks”). In short, I wish I had a current, good example of meaningful engagement with FAO or another UN agency/development partner. (Ayayay!)  

      5. At present, what are the most significant challenges CSOs face in their engagement with FAO?  What could FAO do to address some of those challenges? Please provide concrete examples.

      We want to be partners at an even level, and we are not. You use us to say we participate in decision making, but we do not. I think the bulk of the challenge is with you, not us. We are much more transparent than you. (We even cannot access the sources of your external funding). What is this consultation then going to achieve? I am a realist. Terribly little if any --depending on what responses business friendly (or controlled) NGOS will contribute. Your hands are tied. Can you meet us at least half-way? Good intentions are not the way to heaven.  

      ClaudioSchuftan, Ho Chi Minh City

    • For the remaining years of the Decade, with others, I think much will need change:

      • Better late than never, HR --as indivisible-- are to progressively (but quickly) become the framework of the Decade so as to truly be bindingly addressing the root causes of malnutrition.
      • PPPs and multistakeholder platforms (such as SUN) in the food and nutrition sector are to be placed on hold until reviewed under a new optic focused on CoI.
      • An up-to-date comprehensive assessment of current international trade and investment regimes and their norms and policies is needed so as to ensure that they do not limit states’ ability to perform their sovereign duty bearer responsibilities.
      • Greater progress towards achieving the WHO NCDs Action Plan must be demanded from UN member states and from the private sector. (…not just by reformulating junk food!).
      • Nutrition education needs to be reconsidered to encompass a wider focus more based on the basic/structural causes of worrisome nutrition outcomes. Basically, how we train nutritionists and health workers to work with policy makers and with communities needs to be changed with a more bottom-up approach creating enabling environments for change rather than focusing on behavior change communication. 
      • An independent assessment of the impact of the private sector on nutrition policies and funding needs to be commissioned including the impact of the private sector’s role in CODEX ALIMENTARIUS and in the global and national SUN programs.
      • Food safety interventions will need more emphasis including the thorny issue of antimicrobials use in animal husbandry.
      • More emphasis is needed on all water and sanitation (WASH) issues and on violence and discrimination against women and girls.
      • The protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding and complementary feeding desperately calls for a much higher positioning in the nutrition action agenda.
      • As accountability must be much more centered on legitimate national and multilateral institutions, the direct participation of rights holders in all issues of nutrition governance --thus protecting the public policy space from undue influence by powerful economic actors-- has become un-postponable.
      • Given the need to move away from unsustainable food systems based on agro-industrial food production, any further promotion of them is for us, unacceptable. So are unfair international trade and investment regimes and their responsibility in eco-destruction --all linked to climate change.
      • Product-based approaches (e.g., vitamin capsules, RUTF,) must be limited and exclusively targeted to those that actually require them.
      • Member states will have to pay more than lip service to sovereign local food systems and to traditional knowledge and native seeds based on biodiversity --and only accept participatory decision-making on these issues.
      • Consumer protection against the ever-increasing influx of ultraprocessed foods will require a manifold increased mobilization of consumers as rights holders to demand the needed changes and regulations. This goes hand-in-hand with demands for subsidizing healthy foods, especially in ‘food deserts’.
      • Finally, UN member states are to set participatory annual national benchmarks of progress commensurate with the allocation of adequate resources. It is in this spirit, that what remains of the Decade will eventually become a “People’s Decade of Action on Nutrition”.

      All the above will require WHO and FAO, as well as Northern external funders and member states, to change the steering and implementation of the Decade in a more holistic and HR-based manner. The question is, can they? will they? Adherence to Extraterritorial HR Obligations will be key here as well.

      The experience from other past UN 'decades' has not been too good. We need to do better --therein the challenge. Significant difference will only come from public interest CSOs and social movements pushing member states to commit to action plans and then hold them accountable for the same on a year-to-year basis.

      Critical is to refocus the decade on the HR framework clearly identifying rights holders and duty bearers and doing an analysis of what their respective expected roles are. A massive HR learning process will be the only thing that will lead to this. A process of empowerment of rights holders to organize, mobilize and demand needed changes is key. Without this, we can anticipate little happening or just token steps to save face in front of the international community. Moreover, it is not for us to, top-down, decide priorities! It is for the rights holders suffering violations of their right to food and nutrition to lead in deciding priority actions!

      The next five years boil down to a push or pull question. Only pulling from the rights holders side will move the Decade ahead. UN and other international agencies can do little to push member states to commit. History is clear about this. Forget about private sector actors being involved in empowering rights holders: it is counterintuitive to them.... This is why so many of us are skeptical about the SUN Initiative with its clearly visible CoI. As said, public interest CSOs have the crucial role in monitoring progress made in the progressive realization of ten year plans to fulfill the right to food and nutrition. Annual benchmarks of processes-set-in-motion have to be set so that CSOs can assess progress, stagnation or retrogression on an annual basis with something like shadow reports.

      If shy of all this, we will be discussing the same shortcomings by the end of the Decade.

      The full paper can be obtained from the External Affairs Secretary of WPHNA


    • Action Area 1: Sustainable, resilient food systems for healthy diets

      • Scale up the inclusion of nutrition objectives in food and agriculture policies: increase production of context-appropriate fruits and vegetables for domestic consumption, and of legumes and pulses that contribute to healthy diets; raise production of oils in support of the elimination of industrially produced trans-fat in the food supply. [First of all, I find it devious that here you use the verb scale up in almost all action areas while in the survey you have the original verbs. The reference to SUN is, as I say, devious]. Wording on elimination of transfats must be stringer here.
      • Accelerate food reformulation: provide reference ranges for sodium reduction level benchmarks for processed foods. Reformulation applies mostly to ultra processed foods. This is no solution, it is the white washing of Big Food to keep the public hooked to their products. World Nutrition has articles that make this plenty clear.
      • Accelerate strengthening food control systems: implement national programmes for surveillance of food-borne diseases in humans and contamination of food-borne hazards in the food chain.

      Action Area 2: Aligned health systems providing universal coverage of essential nutrition actions

      • Scale up the integration of nutrition actions into health systems: integrate essential nutrition actions into national Universal Health Coverage (UHC) plans. UHC has been a controversial theme with public interest CSOs and social movements having a different take on it than WHO. Yes, nutrition is important in there.
      • Address funding gaps: increase investments for nutrition in UHC, including for integrated data systems for tracking coverage and quality of essential nutrition actions. What are essential nutr actions? Do we all agree on these? No. Tracking only chronicles trends; what is needed more is actions …and we know a lot already.
      • Accelerate progress on wasting reduction: implement the UN Global Action Plan on Child Wasting and its Roadmap.

      Action Area 3: Social protection and nutrition education

      • Scale up the implementation of nutrition-sensitive social protection policies: ensure coherence between social protection and other sector programmes such as with agricultural production, livelihood diversification and local economic development; national supplementary food bank programmes provide weekly vouchers to each user for purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers. Nutr-sens social prot pols are nothing but the social determinants of (mal)nutrtion that the UN system has NOT embraced. It is only secondarily about coherence; it is about the social determination!
      • Better leverage of schools as a platform for food and nutrition education and enabling healthy diets: set and improve nutrition standards for school meals. What is leverage? Keep in mind that school meals are mostly an educational intervention (retention), not so much a nutritional one. (stunting is already done for… any data on improving wasting?)
      • Accelerate building nutrition capacity: increase the number and quality of nutrition professionals; train healthcare workers to better deliver nutrition action across the life-course. The key here is the content of the curricula. The ones currently there are biomedical and nutrient-centered. …not much help.
      • Scale up the implementation of nutrition education interventions: implement easily understandable nutrition (front-of-pack) labelling on food products that supports consumers’ choices for healthy diets. Same as above: the content of this education is the key. Needs to change to include social determinants. Front of pack info is just a tiny part of the challenge (not very helpful for rural populations important sufferers of malnutrition)

      Action Area 4: Trade and investment for improved nutrition

      • Accelerate responsible and sustainable investments in nutrition: a minimum percentage of the overall national governmental yearly budget is set for nutrition interventions. Something to be said here about curbing Big Food/Big Soda investments in junk.
      • Scale up the implementation of nutrition-sensitive trade policies: establish a national task force represented by different sectors for assessing the coherence between national trade policies and the implemented nutrition actions. FTAs have quite consistently been negative for nutrition. Throwing a task force at them (even if multisectoral) will do little. It is politico-economic issues that control these SECRET negotiations.
      • Strengthen partnerships for data collection and development of tools: global institutions to continue to improve data collection and develop methods and indicators to better understand trade policy impacts on nutrition. What tools? Partnerships of EQUALS are certainly not the norm. Look at SUN… Data collection (only by global institutions?) on impacts of trade policies is a-posteriori, so, what good? Just chronicle negative impacts? Will that help in future negotiations?
      • Accelerate public investments in local food supply chains: gradual increase yearly public sector government budget for investments in cold chain technology and post-harvest handling of perishable foods.

      Action Area 5: Safe and supportive environments for nutrition at all ages

      • Scale up the implementation of regulatory instruments to promote healthy diets: introduce taxation of sugar-sweetened beverages and subsidies for fruits and vegetables; implement legislation of marketing restrictions of foods and beverages high in fat, sugar and/or salt to children. Scale up? Hardly much exists. Be aware that the concept of healthy diets was contested by CSM during negotiations of the Voluntary Guidelines on food systems. CSM lost on this and on many other red lines it set. Parliamentarians have been absent in most of the advocacy work, so how will we get the needed legislation? Corporations lobby parliaments much more effectively!
      • Scale up the implementation of nutrition-sensitive public food procurement policies: set food and nutrition-based standards for the food and meals provided in hospitals, care facilities and other public settings. Does this also apply to the general public? Are you talking about nutrients or food and meals for the latter?
      • Scale up the implementation of national dietary guidelines: include in national dietary guidelines for children, adults and elderly biodiversity and sustainability considerations. I’d say NOVA MUST be mentioned here as the preferred alternative.
      • Scale up the implementation of nutrition-sensitive policies for improving local food and nutrition environments: introduce zoning regulations and tax regimes to minimize food deserts and swamps. Again, you are skipping the social determinant by mentioning them by name, because they ARE part of the ‘F+N environment’. The role of aggressive penetration of UPfoods in deserts/swamps must be denounced here.

      Action Area 6: Strengthened governance and accountability for nutrition

      • Enhance political commitment through political dialogue and advocacy at national and sub-national levels: establish and strengthen coordination mechanism through a multistakeholder consultation process for the uptake of the CFS Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition. Who will do this? us? We have a pretty dismal record, no? Is it not organizing and mobilizing claim holders that we have a real chance for changing this politically? Claim holders have never had level field dialogue with duty bearers and they have to achieve such equal level. The UN (and SCN) say they are human rights based, but are they? HR/RTF are not mentioned once in this action for the next 5 yrs… And, please, as a respect to a high proportion of us out there who opted out from the Guidelines, do not use ‘multistakeholder’ in this action plan.
      • Address research funding gap: increase investment for research on the adaptation of global recommendations to the country context to support capacity development for implementation.
      • Scale up investments in national nutrition information system: establish and strengthen a national nutrition monitoring framework in line with global guidance and the SDG monitoring framework in order to identify challenges and gaps for informed and effective policymaking. Again, info systems are only good if the data are used. Can we say this has been the case in the last 50 yrs? Hardly. We keep good statistics on how bad things are, yes. We know the gaps. Quantifying gaps does not automatically result in ‘informed and effective policies’. I am not saying we do not need this, but coupled with what? This is the challenge for the next 5 yrs of the (ailing) Decade.
      • Accelerate global governance and accountability: use global summits such as the UN Food Systems Summit 2021 and the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit 2021 for setting new commitments for action on nutrition and streamlining the global nutrition accountability infrastructure. Accelerate?? The global governance and accountability in F+N badly needs replacement, not acceleration. Look at the role of the conflicted private sector in SUN in glob gov. Furthermore, please keep in mind that a high proportion of us out there have opted out from the FSS for reasons widely explained. If the next 5 years will be guided by outcomes on the FSS, we are doomed. I think colleagues at the UNN know this.



    • Dear friends all,

      The call for this discussion starts from the wrong title, I’d say. I have many times advocated that the issue is not eradication of poverty; the issue is disparity reduction: the cake has to be re-sliced more equitably! (it is a zero sum game...)

      A focus on interventions addressing hunger and extreme poverty are indeed sector-specific --and this is the problem.

      If the discussion calls on inputs on the role that agriculture can play in improving the lives of the poorest of the poor we are precisely again falling on a sector-specific approach. Am I wrong?

      FAO's approach towards the eradication of extreme poverty by using its experience in supporting agriculture thus needs to be expanded to embrace a disparity reduction approach.

      Also, speaking of ‘the poorest of the poor’ is so depersonalizing. These are people rendered poor by an age-long process of deprivation, marginalization and exploitation. This is their ‘ordeal’, as you say. What are agricultural interventions going to contribute to change this?

      Yes, SDG1 is right: “End poverty in all its forms everywhere”. But have the SDGs really set the tone for this in the next 12 years? The clock is ticking...

      You are right when you say that ‘agriculture mostly looks at those who have some assets, leaving the extreme poor behind’. When you talk about cash transfer programs you are a small step closer to what I mean.

      I do hope FAO refines and improves its approach towards, not the eradication of extreme poverty, but towards disparity reduction. People have been ‘left behind’ for eons. The SDG slogan is thus aspirational at best.

      1. Under what conditions can agriculture succeed in lifting people out of extreme poverty? Particularly those households with limited access to productive resources.

      Unfortunately under none if used sector specifically.

      2. What is the role of ensuring more sustainable natural resource management in supporting the eradication of extreme poverty?

      This, again is only one aspect of the problem. If taken alone, little can be expected.

      3. Can those without the opportunities to pursue agricultural production and to access resources such as fish, forests and livestock find pathways out of extreme poverty through these sectors?

      ‘Without opportunities’ relates to having been rendered poor and having been left behind and points towards disparity reduction actions that will only come if these groups act as claim holders, organize and mobilize to demand redress.

      4. What set of policies are necessary to address issues connecting food security and extreme poverty eradication in rural areas?

      Demand that the SDGs be reconsidered so they can apply the human rights framework to achieve the goals through 117 progressive realization indicators. (I know I am a dreamer…)

    • This Decade document is unfortunately quite disapointing. It has no teeth. It repeats all the old (predictable) remedies and cliches. It is jargony. It too often states the obvious.

      By paragraphs:

      4, 38, 54. multistakeholder platforms are taken as a given. Will not more people oppose this? The conflicts of interest (CoI) issue has not been solved...

      9. "Leaving no one behind"… You know the quote that says that this is not an accident.

           The para also speaks of a "global accountability framework": where is such to be found?

      12, 13, 15, 38, 41, 44, 54, 67, 69, 73.  “Stakeholder” is used over and over. In many of these places, using rights holders and duty bearers is what is called for.

      12. The SUN initiative is mentioned casually…without quoting what some of its detractors object.

      13. 31. Speak of CSOs or NGOs as the same. It should say (private interest CSOs (PICSOs). It mentions ”an enabling environment” for HR and the RTF. Only enabling? Isn't it to be the cornerstone?

      13. The para only says “management of CoI”. Will we demand stronger language on CoI?

      14. Speaks of  “an enabling environment” for HR and the RTF. Will we demand stronger language?

      16. Cross-cutting area #4 calls for “trade and investment for improved nutrition”. How? Does past experience teach us something?

      17. Asks for “fostering policy dialogue…to ensure that solutions are equitable and people-centered”. This is not what the HR framework calls for! Claim holders demand!

      19. Paragraph sooo weak..

      20. Calls for “strengthening local food production especially by small holders”. This is not what we stand for. Language already a consensus puts central emphasis on small holders.

      29. Mentions “nutrient dense foods”. Which? RUTF?

      30. This para on nutrition education is sooo weak and naif. Could have been written in the 1970s.

      31. “Lead by example” ????

      34. Are only “coherence and flexibility” needed??

      35. “Achieve global food and nutrition through trade", i.e. “appropriate trade agreements”? What is that?

      38. “Multistakeholder governance mechanisms should avoid Coi”. We certainly need stronger wording here.

      41. “Member states are encouraged to translate the commitments of ICN2”. Just encourage?? (Then in para 42 there is a call for them to actually commit…. A contradiction).

      The mention of SMART here is a gimmick, just for show.

      43. The call is “to raise the level of ambition”. Only? Need stronger language?

      45. Speaks of a “commitments repository in FAO and WHO”? Would this work and be binding?

      47, 48. The call here is for “champions” and “action networks”; seems to me wishful thinking. I may be wrong.

      54. “SUN will provide opportunities”? How many years has SUN been on? What to show for?

      59. “The Decade will strengthen the capacities at community level as appropriate? Meaning what? Far from what we are asking for re empowering clim holders and duty bearers...

      63. Calls for “Evidence-informed advocacy”. What gimmick is that? Does scientific evidence convince politicians?

      64. What “visual identity” is referred here to?

      69. We read “FAO/WHO will consult with the private sector” …for governance issues? This sentence is in the governance section!! Needs to be deleted. No private sector in governance.

      Table 1. Proposes a “reformulation” of foods group. We all know what Monteiro and Cannon say about this giving BIG Food a way to whitewash their image and the public still staying hooked on ultrprocessed foods.

      The table also proposes a nutrition sensitive issues group. We all know this was invented as a (bad) substitute for what are the social determinants of nutrition.


    • This time I will respond to the postings of the Belgian Food and Beverage Alliance and BASF, both, I would think, with an ‘axe to grind’ (or a vested interest?).

      We all have, including  most contributors, an ‘axe to grind’; but ours is in the public interest… We have in common that we are critical of, but not private sector bashers. We look at what is happening with conflicts of interest (CoI) in public private partnerships (PPPs), in free trade agreement (FTAs), in multistakeholder platforms (the latter praised and called for by the two postings I comment on)… and what is the common denominator? An increasing interference in public decision-making. That is not acceptable to us defenders of the public interest. Unless the multiple CoI issue is addressed face-on with no more ‘go-arounds’, PPPs, multistakeholder platforms and FTAs are to remain in quarantine.

      To the Alliance, I further say that “behaviour change promoting change and raising awareness of the importance of good nutrition among all consumers through public education campaigns” over-and-over puts the responsibility on the individual when we all know that the advertising and price structure of ultra-processed foods is the real culprit of over-nutrition and associated NCDs that the industry wants us to ignore.  Furthermore, claiming that “Experience has shown that collaborative multistakeholder actions represent not only one of the most cost-effective ways to address public health challenges, but are, in fact, the only way to tackle these global complex issues” is a gratuitous assertion not backed by facts. If you do not believe me, look at the SUN Initiative.

      To our BASF colleague, I further say that claiming that “fortifying staple foods is one of the most cost-effective interventions to tackle hidden hunger” may be true but the key question is how sustainable (except for iodine), as opposed to community-based, food-based interventions together with stern economic disparity reduction measures resolving the problems of poverty. BASF also not only thinks that “promoting consumer awareness regarding nutrition” is key --see my comment above--, but also thinks “it can be done best by the (critical, they say) engagement of multiple stakeholders (in the said platforms?)” --see my comment above. Moreover, together with many, I do not see that “building local multi-stakeholder alliances can be supported by Fora such as UNSCN which can help strengthen private and public actors’ networks”.  Well, this is not exactly the role of a UN body committed to the objectives of the Decade and is not “an important contribution to a sustainable improvement of nutrition that is cost-effective and scalable”. If you do not believe me, look at the ample literature on food sovereignty by La Via Campesina.

      Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City

    • I could not disagree more with Erick (and I guess with IFPRI). Although he mentions diet diversification passing by, he puts an unwarranted emphasis on biofortification and less so on fortification. This moves the focus totally away from the social, economic and political determinants of malnutrition -- which is where the Decade should put most of its emphasis.

      Sustainable solutions are not from the supply side. 

      I wonder what the other contributors think.

      Claudio in Ho Chi Minh City

    • Welcome Christine Campeau!

      1. The experience from past 'decades' has not been too good. We need to do better --a challenge. Significant difference will only come from public interest CSOs and social movements pushing MS to commit to action plans and then hold them accountable for it on, at least, a year-to-year basis. Changes will NOT come from above... Moreover, it is time we begin talking about food-and-nutrition-security and NOT food security and nutrition...

      2. Critical is to refocus the decade on the HR framework clearly identifying claim holders and duty bearers and doing a capacity analysis of what the expected roles are that pertain to both groups. A massive HR learning process will be the only thing that will lead to this. A process of empowerment of claim holders to organize, mobilize and demand needed changes is key. Withouth this, we can anticipate little happening or just token steps 'to keep up with the Joneses' and save face in front of the intl community.  Moreover, it is not for us to top-down decide priorities! It is the claim holders suffering violations of their right to nutrition to lead in deciding priority actions.

      3. This is a push or pull question. Only pulling from claim holders will move the decade ahead. UN and other intl agencies can do little to push MS to commit. History is clear about this. Forget about private sector actors being involved in empowering claim holders: counterintuitive to them.... This is why so many of us are skeptical about the SUN Initiative with is well exposed conflicts of interest. As said, CSOs have the crucial role in monitoring progress made in the progressive realization of 10 year plans to fulfil the right to nutrition. Annual benchmarks of processes-set-in-motion have to be set so that CSOs can asses progress, stagnation or retrogression on an annual basis with something like shadow reports.

      4. CFS, UNSCN and others' (including the CSM) contribution to the decade is very important, BUT along the lines of what I say above. If shy on this, we will be discussing the same shortcomings by the end of the decade.

      This is my personal opinion.

      Claudio in Ho Chi Minh City

    • A lot is said about the role of nutrition activists in advocating in this field. Strictly speaking, our role goes well beyond advocating; we are supposed to stand by those affected as claim holders for them to understand, organize, mobilize and act upon their nutrition and resulting NCDs problem so as to proactively demand changes be made by the respective duty bearers at each level.

      This is not a semantic difference only. It must be seen as pertaining to the right to food and adequate nutrition. The existence of the human rights covenants duly ratified by most nations gives claim holders the power to demand and no longer beg for the State and industry to make changes. (Note that this also encompasses extraterritorial obligations or ETOs where the duty bearers are entities other than the State --could be donors or corporations among other).

      This distinction is indeed important. Why? Because the organization and mobilization of claim holders ought to become a central activity of our work in public health nutrition.

      The distinction between advocating and demanding also has a connotation for understanding that human rights go beyond individual rights to also cover collective rights.

      Does this really apply to our work in public nutrition? Of course it does!

      How? Take the problems of overweight, obesity and NCDs. Industry (and the influence they exert /buy) wants us to believe that it is individual behavior that is the target we should address. But we know better, don’t we? Clearly vested interests are behind this myth being sold to us. Big Food/Big Soda profit from influencing our eating behavior from childhood-on particularly selling us ultra-processed foods galore. But they now want to show social responsibility. So they propose reformulating their products with less sugar, less salt and no trans-fats… But still want us to continue to be hooked to consuming these fast foods! On the other hand, have you given it a thought that Big Pharma profits from selling us medicines to prevent/treat NCDs (or miracle pills to treat obesity)? So, why should they be active advocates of the right to good nutrition?

      Beware that the NCDs recent New York summit and the recent WHO report on obesity are rather weak in making the point of the responsibility of industry. Does this surprise you? We know about the links and the lobbying of both transnational corporations and the rich states that house them (also now affecting UN agencies!).

      [As a byline, on the undernutrition side, we have witnessed 50 years plus of foreign aid not addressing the basic causes of preventable malnutrition so clearly spelled out in the late Urban Jonsson’s conceptual framework of the causes of malnutrition].

      This quick review of the current situation is brief to the point of a caricature, but is sufficient to ask two questions:

      1. Is it ‘advocacy’ that we need when facing the-powers-that-bend-policy decisions? Would this be a bit like ‘putting the other cheek’? and

      2. What do I/you then mean by claim holders ‘demanding’ the human right to food and nutrition as pertains to overweight, obesity and NCDs?

      Use this space to comment.


    • Dear Lucy and Ahmed,

      My serious concerns on the matter of this consultation all revolve around question 1.

      1. Setting the stage: Why are you interested in Nutrition-Sensitive Social Protection? What is Nutrition-Sensitive Social Protection? What makes a social protection intervention “nutrition-sensitive”?

      Your intro piece has, in my view, multiple flaws that will bias the consultation. Let me explain in the form of bullets.

      You call for:

      Making social safety nets and targeting work better. Safety nets have been designed to throw a crumb of bread to the needy without pulling them out of poverty. So we target ‘the poor’ (grr!) and do nothing about the system that perpetuates their poverty. Ultimately and dispassionately, it is all about avoiding social upheaval that will threaten the haves.

      Social protection. To improve social protection, it would be nice to start asking the affected what they think needs to be done, no? This is a fundamental human rights principle… I feel the call may be bringing responses from top-down initiatives around the world which will mostly be localized with little replication prospects.

      Stakeholders. (grr!) Isn’t it high time we begin using claim holders and duty bearers instead?

      Poverty reduction vs disparity reduction. When will we understand that the challenge is not poverty reduction, but disparity reduction? The pie is only so big; we do not need to make it grow with the same slicing; we must re-slice it far more equitably…. and nutrition-sensitive social protection will simply not do this.

      Equity vs equality. You use equity where you should be using equality. Equity is a justice concept; equality is a human rights concept (and nutrition and social protection are HR issues).

      Increasing productivity. For God’s sake, we are trying to deal with a HR issue. We do NOT need an economic justification. Nutrition and social protection are a high priority, because HR are being violated. Point finale!

      ‘Investments in nutrition and early childhood development are therefore (therefore?) key determinants of long term economic growth’.  Investing in nutrition is a HR priority, no more, no less. Forget the economic growth justification. Growth for what? for more 99/1? For more depletion of natural resources and environmental degradation and precipitating climate change? We simply have to stop using this fallacious argument.

      ‘Programs targeted (?? see above) to enhance their impact on nutrition and lock in future human capital’. Ayayay! More of the same…. Human capital is such a neoliberal term. What we need is to lock-in is the respect and fulfillment of, in this case, the human right to nutrition and the human right to social protection.

      Activities related to nutrition education and micronutrient supplementation… Nutrition education to teach people what they cannot afford? We have over 4 decades of negative experiences on this. Micronutrient supplementation is a darling of donors….it does not require addressing the thorny issue of the political roots of malnutrition as stunting more does.

      I hope this contributes early-on to guide the agenda of the consultation. If this perspective is not brought up in Moscow, we may as well stay in our ivory towers.

      Claudio in Ho Chi Minh City

      [email protected]

    • 1. In a free-market world economy, Third World countries are not being given the benefits they and their economies need, but rather what-ideologically-motivated-Northern-trade-partners believe they should give them. Conversely, in the local economy, only those who have something to sell --and are not hindered in selling it (!)-- can earn anything from trade.

      2. So, when trade rules threaten the right to food of the poor, those trade rules should be challenged on the basis of existing Human Rights Covenants. Therefore, states, independent human rights commissions and/or NGOs should undertake ‘human rights (HR) impact assessments’ of the trade rules the respective country abides by, both during the process of trade negotiations and after negotiations; such an assessment must be public and participatory so as to safeguard people’s and communities’ rights from the avariciousness of commercial interests and patent rights. (AIFO)

      3. For the developed countries of the North, free trade means shaping states’ policies worldwide so as to create the environments-most-favorable-to-the-opening-up-of-the-countries-of-the-South-to-globalized-free-markets! It means forcing the hand of these countries to adopt neo-liberal economic policies. The aim here is not really to foster greater democratic participation, but rather state-sponsored market deregulation. 

      4. This being the case, one can justifiably ask: When creating such ‘favorable’ market environments, has neo-liberalism been able to manage the crisis of the world food system?  And the answer has to be a resounding NO. This latest stage of Capitalism has actually not yet shown it can curb the growth of impoverishment in large segments of both the Third and the First World. This fact leads committed HR workers to a very clear path of where the priorities lie. The crude reality of our times has simply led to levels of inequality beyond tolerance.

      5. If the context and the framework of our development discourse are wrong, discussions and actions based on the wrong analyses will be like pouring water into a broken vessel; no amount of effort to fill it will be sufficient.



      Oblivious to the teachings of history, international free trade is being promoted to the rank of ‘development motor’ as if development would be the same as preparing the population for the market economy. (CETIM)

      1. The WTO is driven by a mercantilist philosophy; the focus of what it does is not on the welfare or growth prospects of members. Small, poor countries have little to offer and to gain in the mercantilist WTO exchange. The multilateral-trade-liberalization-drive championed by the WTO has been mainly driven by corporate interests seeking access to foreign markets; the WTO, therefore, is a good vehicle for advancing their interests.

      2. It is not that industrial countries need the WTO; their firms can and do obtain access to new markets directly. In fact, the private sector has often concluded that the multilateral system may be good, but is ineffective, so, they use non-governmental routes.

      3. On the other hand, it has been estimated that, if all (that is ALL) global trade barriers for the poor countries were eliminated, approximately 500 million people could be lifted out of hunger and poverty over 15 years. (Keep in mind that, if China is excluded, the number of hungry people has actually increased in the last decade. This, despite the right to food being enshrined in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and in the World Food Conference of 1974.

      4. As a Human Rights challenge, it is, consequently, more important to advocate for raising income of poor persons than for food self-sufficiency, i.e., raising rural incomes is more important than increasing food production. So, the right to fair social and economic conditions is necessary to allow people to feed themselves (FAO).

      6. In addition, and as related, keep in mind that if the debt burden of poor countries were significantly reduced or eliminated as their terms of trade were made fairer, the amount of aid required would also significantly diminish.

      7. The worst enemy of developing counties is neoliberalism which means the complete elimination of protectionism. We cannot thus say that if ‘All global trade barriers to poor countries are eliminated, 500 million or more people could be lifted out of hunger’. It is an illusion to think that the problems of underdevelopment are due to trade barriers. Poor countries need protectionism as the air they breathe and, in the developed countries, the ones who suffer most from free trade are the unskilled working classes. The roots of poverty and exploitation are based on the power relations in that country, rather than on world trade.

      8. Samir Amin (1985, Delinking: towards a polycentric world. London, Zed Books) has elaborated very clearly the importance of national protection and cultivating South South trading blocks protected from rich world competition. The logic of comparative advantage applies where two countries are at comparable levels of development. Free trade between rich and poor is much more likely to exacerbate the inequalities.



      Who will live and who will die has already been decided by the economic structures brought about by globalization (P. John)

      1. These days, bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) are totally bypassing the World Trade Organization (WTO). This is because rich countries think that multilateralism is for weak players and is based on long-winded processes with decisions that are typically based on the lowest common denominator arrived at with a one-country-one-vote system. So these rich countries (or the EU) seek their own way through these (often imposed) bilateral FTAs that bypass the WTO. Therefore, WTO critics are, in a way, partly misled when they demonstrate (only) against the WTO in the streets.

      2. But, as experience has shown, in FTAs the cost:deception ratio has been high. FTAs pursued by hegemonic powers, despite being nefarious, find developing countries to be complacent, “behaving like animals being blissfully led to their slaughter”. (J. Bhagwati).

      3. We cannot overlook the proven fact that trade (as much as foreign aid) is not even an opportunity and certainly not a guarantee. This is true, not only from an economic development perspective, but particularly from the perspective of human rights (HR). (G. Kent)  Unfortunately, in the case of aid, if one aid program misses its opportunity to deliver what it promised (whatever its expected impact was supposed to be), the next one is as sure to come along as day follows night; unhealthy donor competition ensures that. This is dramatically seen in current-day aid directed at ‘helping’ poor countries achieve the MDGs.

      4. Few people know the MDGs actually comprise only two (of 30!) paragraphs of the full Millennium Declaration --which calls very strongly for democracy and human rights as the route to achieving the stated millennium goals! Actually, despite the fact that paragraphs 25 and 26 of the Millennium Declaration specifically call to apply a HR-based approach, the ongoing Millennium-Development-Goals-drive has become a global action program without such an orientation. 

      5. Paradoxically, the negotiation of FTAs assumes capacity and political determination at the national level… when the problems we are trying to solve occur precisely because of shortfalls in technical and political capacity at the national level. [It is not, as so often touted, a lack of political will; most of the cases, it is a deliberate political laissez-faire decision of the national leadership in power].

      9. As can be seen, much needs to change for trade, aid and the setting of development goals to work synergistically with HR goals. We all need to contribute our own share to progressively make this a reality.

      Note: Not being facetious, if we provide sandwiches for all who are hungry in the world on the first day of 2015, will we have fulfilled the MDG of ending hunger by 2015? (G. Kent)

      Claudio Schuftan, PHM, Ho Chi Minh City

    • The political and economic context within which national planning takes place is strongly shaped by economic globalisation and the increasing power of transnational corporations.

      There is therefore a need to clearly articulate the dire dangers to food security and food sovereignty in current trade and investment agreements and to point towards the provisions which should be included in such agreements to guarantee food security and food sovereignty of the most needy. In recommendations 17 & 18 of ICN2’ Framework for Action there is no reference, under monitoring and accountability, to trade and investment agreements

      The People’s Health Movement (PHM) is urging WHO, FAO, the UNHCHR and UNCTAD to create a commission to report on the implications of trade and investment agreements for the right to nutrition in accordance with para 25 of UNGA resolution A/RES/68/177.

    • Mohamed Ajuba Sheriff wrote that working together with SUN could help harmonize efforts of the different ministries and partners involved in FSN policy making.
      Indeed, larger initiatives can serve as intermediaries to help you reach policy makers.

      Well, the purpose of the recent consultation is policy outreach, no? SUN is an initiative with uncontrolled active corporate inputs. Not too difficult to imagine what type of policies they are likely to be pushing.   The many conflict of interest issues in SUN has NOT been resolved and SUN refuses to respond to CS concerns on this. A bogus consultancy was set up with Gates funds that totally misrepresented the conflict of interes issues SUN has been challenged for.

       So, Mohamed, larger initiatives yes, but SUN no.


      cschuftan@phmovement .org

    • Dear friends at FAO,

       You launched an e-consultation on this new document. Here is my contribution:

      1.       Do you have any general comments on the draft Framework for Action?  Yes I do. Plenty.

      ·         Do you have any comments on chapter 1-2?

      The Introduction can be significantly shortened by referring to the Political Declaration where the content can be found already. No need to repeat.

      ·         Do you have any comments on chapter 3 (3.1 Food systems, 3.2 Social Protection; 3.3 Health; 3.4 International trade and investment)?

      I feel the introductions to 3.1 through 3.4 again are too wordy and repetitive of the Declaration.Suggest cutting with references to the Declaration.

      A framework for action must go more directly to points of action expected of members states and particularly of public interest civil society organizations. Crisp is best.

      As regards the priority actions recommended, nothing less than a paragraph by paragraph critique will do justice to the draft 0. It is often totally unclear whom the recommendations are made to... This being a framework for action its recommendations must be more precise --which they are not thus allowing for interpretation and loopholes. We went through that already in 1992!

      So I have spent the hours needed to do the para by para review. See attached. Such a detailed analysis I think is needed for the JWG to get a feedback on their own text and to (hopefully) consider amendments.

      ·         Do you have any comments on chapter 4-5? 

      Chapter 4 is unacceptably not human rights based. To enforce accountability, both rights holders and duty bearers need to understand what accountability is in the context of the right to food. Nothing is said about the massive HR learning that will be needed for this. I have made pointed comments on this in the text itself.

      Chapter 5 on recommendations for follow up is weak to the point of only caricaturizing the role of public interest civil society in giving f/u to ICN2; we know little comes from top-down. Moreover, not a word is said about steps towards the progressive realization of the RTF. This is unconcionable in 2014 coming from a document to be backed by UN agencies.

      2.       Does the Framework for Action adequately reflect the commitments of the Rome Declaration on Nutrition, and how could this be improved? 

      Difficult for me to say since I expressed in writing my serious concerns about the contents of  the Political Declaration in this same FAO forum. (Given the shortcomings of this Framework, I would say, yes, it reflects the shortcomings of the Political Declaration). Improvements will have to address a good number of the critiques that I make and others will be making in this forum. Will the JWG listen? (Our experience with the Political Declaration seems to indicate not).

      3.       Does the Framework for Action provide sufficient guidance to realize the commitments made?

      To me, clearly not --and I point this out in many a place in the attached.

      4.       Are there any issues which are missing in the draft Framework for Action to ensure the effective implementation of the commitments and action to achieve the objectives of the ICN2 and its Declaration?

      Many, many. They can be found in blue font in the attached so they are easy to find.


      Dear friends, I do not see why a critique has to be a collection of niceties. With so little time left, I do think that one has to be direct --as much as it may hurt: Calling a spade a spade; asking incisive questions. I just want to assure you that no disrespect is intended from my part when I sometimes use mordent language. I know the JWG has worked hard and I salute them, the question is with what level of in-house expertise on these complicated issues, especially as relates to human rights and the RTF. 


      Claudio Schuftan

    • Dear friends at FSN,

      After reading the documentation posted, I would like to contribute the attached commentary to the e-consultation.

      I apologize for it being a bit lengthy since I go into details.

      I also apologize for the devil's advocate tone the comment may have in some places. My overall intention is nevertheless constructive.

      Warm regards,


    • Suggested issues to be addressed by CFS from 2016 on:

      There is a belated urgency for CFS members to, once and for all, address and hopefully seek consensus on issues that have been chronically postponed as front-line issues.

      Although the list is by no means complete, I refer to:

      ·      Seeking a greater balance in CFS for both a food AND a nutrition focus; the latter has, more often than not, received shortschrift.

      ·      The role, attention and funding that needs to be given to development centered on an agroecological approach (not forgetting fisheries).

      ·      The replacement of the concept of food security by the concept of food sovereignty.

      ·      A more coherent and aggressive strategy for CFS members to fight what amounts to a corporate take-over of agriculture, food and nutrition.

      ·      A complementary strategy to unmask bad PPPs and their inherent conflicts of interest.

      ·      The role of philanthrocapitalism in shaping policy and financing biased approaches to development.

      ·      The unresolved issues of food and nutrition governance.

      The list above hardly needs to add an ‘explanation why I propose them here’. The evidence is scattered now all over and all of these issues have come up in the post-2015 discussions.

      This brings me to another key issue for the CFS to address starting in 2016, i.e., the monitoring of food and nutrition commitments made in the post 2015 years.

      Last but not least, let me point out two key issues: 

      (i)            I contend that after 10 years of experience with the Voluntary Guidelines it is time to critique ‘voluntarianism’ and refocus our efforts on regulation and accountability. CFS ought to play a central role in this.

      (ii)          CFS has done next to nothing proactively to advance approaching the food and nutrition problems from the human rights perspective. This cannot wait till 2016!

      The challenge now is to peg activities to the ideas/issues here presented so they become part of the major workstream of CFS including recommendations to the HLPE. This is hardly the space to do this. I volunteer to be part of a group to embark in these discussions.

      Claudio Schuftan, Ho hi Minh City

      [email protected]

    • THE ROME ACCORD: ICN2 zero draft political outcome document for 19 November 2014. Why do we have to start from the end? Already a draft of the political declaration when so much discussing hast still to go on?

      For what it is worth at this early stage, I offer some paragraph by paragraph, comments and edits [in blue, in the attachment, Ed].

      Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City

      [email protected] 

    • 1. If you could make an intervention at the side event on rural women at the 8th session of the Open Working Group in New York, what would be its key message?

      Rural women are often described as critical agents of change in discussions on sustainable development goals. To what extent would the achievement of food and nutrition security for rural women help accelerate sustainable development?

      In my opinion a key message that cannot be missed is that, in the light of sustainable development, the concept of food sovereignty is much more gender proactive than the food security notion. As you say, women can be critical agents, but this is enhanced manyfold using a food sovereignty focus. The appeal should thus be for UN agencies sponsoring this 8th session to give-in to this paradigmatic change . Public interest civil society has been making this point to FAO and other agencies for long, but to no avail. The 8th session is yet another chance to make this unpostponable appeal. 

      Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City


    • 1.  When we talk about HH FS, we too often forget HH fuel security and the issues of its physical and economic access and an issue of tremendous environmental consequences (firewood, charcoal).

      2. More related to social relations and networks is what all online discussions so far have omitted. I refer to the 'care' element in the causality of malnutrition. It cannot be overemphasized that MN is an outcome of a pyramid of causation (UNICEF 1990). Three are the underlying causes, namely HH FS, care and access to health and sanitation. Addressing FS is necessary but not sufficient to influence the outcome!.  Well, care relates to the the mother's wellbeing during pregnancy and lactation, as well as to the mother/child binomium; and breastfeeding (the first food) is at the very center with much more than its nutritional importance including all aspects of bonding: and that is related to social networks [family support (husband and extended family), lactation legislation (maternity leave and creches)]. Networks are also involved, especially existing networks of women promoting breastfeeeding (WABA, La Leche League, etc). Issues of alleviating the mother's chores during pregnancy and lactation should also be kept in mind; the role of the husband being crucial.

      Bottom line, these issues are key to HH FS and are clearly some of its important determinants.



    • Dear moderators

      I do take strong exception to Robynne's statement that: "...the question set out a ‘private-sector’ – ‘civil-society’ dichotomy, but we all know that real life doesn’t work like that. Just look at the wide range of academics, farm organisations, private companies and others involved since the discussion began on-line and it’s easy to see that this division seems somewhat artificial and not necessarily helpful".

      Indeed, real life does work like that. The dichotomy is there, and it is marked. The fact that in our consultation we have had inputs from the sectors Robynne mentions is certainly no proof that the division is somewhat artificial and not necessarily helpful. This is a dangerous blanket statement. Does anybody have a doubt about the negative effects Big, Food, Big Beverage and the baby food industry are having on nutrition the world over?  ...and this is just one example. What about corporate land grabbing? Multinational, family owned  and corporate international oligopolistic grain traders? Speculators in futures markets?


      Claudio Schuftan

      Ho Chi Minh City

      [email protected]

    • Dear Moderator,

       You through to us a challenge to comment on the prices of food, i.e., their volatility and how diets are becoming more expensive for poor people with higher %s of income being spent on food. You hinted that the link: food prices to undernutrition is yet to be established. I beg to disagree and here is why. I apologize, because the evidence cannot be presented in just 2-3 paragraphs.

      As our contributors know, current conventional economic theory says that there is an ‘invisible hand’ of self-correcting cycles of supply and demand. This notion may have had some utility when it was invented by Adam Smith over 200 years ago. Now it is more like believing in Father Christmas. All indicators point to the fact that food prices are unlikely to fall any time soon and may indeed rise much higher.

      Rising food prices are inconvenient and even troublesome for people with plenty of disposable income. They are often a disaster for impoverished populations and communities.

      The impact of ‘free market ideology’ is great on food production and distribution, and thus on the cost of food, as well as on food insecurity, on equity and on nutrition. The impact of the latter on poverty and on the misery of children is undeniable.

      Public health nutrition professionals can effectively do their jobs only when they understand and act at upon the underlying and basic social, economic and political determinants of nutrition at population and community levels. Otherwise they cannot do much more than apply band-aids to deep wounds.

      The crisis we face is not only of rising prices, it is also of fluctuating prices. Price instability, whether of money itself or of food, in itself destabilises societies. This, especially for city dwellers with little disposable income who do not produce food, but buy it, and have been hard hit. Often, they now literally do not have the money for basic foods.

      Food prices are rising and fluctuating wildly for a number of reasons. Supply and demand issues cannot explain the speed and severity of the phenomenon observed. Neither current prices nor the commodities futures markets (designed to bet on what food may be worth not now but later) reflect or relate to real supply and demand.

      Protectionism: robbing the poor to pay the rich: We are supposed to be living in a world of free trade. The reality is different though. One of the causes of rising food prices is protectionism. Governments remain stubbornly committed to subsidise agribusiness in Europe and the US so they can and do export food at prices that have been ‘cheapened’ --and this distorts markets. National food production in the South cannot compete, and the livelihoods of small and family farmers  are undermined or even destroyed.

      Speculation: manipulating the markets:  Food is treated as just another commodity so that its value is manipulated by speculators, including futures traders. Many investors continue to believe that commodity markets are in the midst of a super-cycle --a long-term trend that will continue to drive prices higher for years to come. In theory, this should be a good thing --not for consumers, but for big producers and speculators who sell before bull markets become bear markets and prices drop. But high levels of speculative investment are always problematic. There is no guarantee that small farmers will benefit from productivity increases and high prices.

      High levels of speculation in food are creating price volatility that is driving hundreds of millions of people into poverty and the threat of starvation. What is needed here, is limits on speculation, and stricter regulation of market manipulation.

      Taken all together, the current food prices crisis has highlighted the fragility of the world’s food system, and its vulnerability to shock. Consumers are now spending a larger share of their income on food. In some countries a large proportion of the more impoverished population groups simply do not have the necessary additional money. Within countries, impoverished urban communities are the most affected by high food prices, because they rely on food purchases for their food supplies.

      There are specific nutritional consequences of the food price crisis; they are:

      • Reduced food energy intake. This results in low birth weight and the risk of serious wasting, which has long-term health, child development and welfare consequences.
      • Reduced intake of micronutrients. This increases risk of micronutrient deficiency diseases such as xerophthalmia and iron deficiency anaemia.
      • Reduction in breastfeeding. This is a consequence of mothers needing to work, and also of inadequate nutrition of the mother during pregnancy and after the birth of her children.

      The cost of doing nothing to alleviate the impact of food price rises, and of working towards new systems of governance that will equitably stabilise food prices, would be very heavy indeed. To summarise, it will include increased low birth weight rates, decreased breastfeeding rates, increased malnutrition rates, increased under 5 mortality, and a heavy toll on child development. Populations on the margins of poverty will suffer more, and those already in poverty will be pushed towards destitution. What remains unknowable is just how great the damage will be. Children wl suffer the most.

      Rises and fluctuations in the price of food are here to stay. This is a corollary of an ideology that treats food as a commodity whose value is determined by money markets that continue to drive the world’s economy with minimal regulation. The negative impact of the unpredictable high prices of food on society, most of all in the South, are now quite evident. The most vulnerable populations and communities are, as usual, the most affected. These are mothers and their children who live in impoverished regions and countries.

      Long-term the answers must be structural. The prevailing systems of political and economic governance that determine, among many other things, the price of food, are not working in the public interest.  Will ICN2 deal with these issues?

      Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City

    • Dear Moderator,

      This consultation on the role of civil society and the private sector was originally conceived to give room for our inputs to the ICN2 preparatory process with the aim of influencing it, not only positively, but also effectively.

      Last week, I submitted a posting related to the worrisome role PPPs are exerting on public decision-making. I made a call to action.

      But this issue, and many others that worry me, do not seem to be on the agenda of ICN2. Can we expect this consultation will forcefully enough demand that these issues become part of the official discussions in November 2014?

      Let me give consultation participants just a sample of the (additional) types of issues I see we are missing and, in my view, cannot simply be excluded in ICN2 in depth discussions:

      Issue 1: Post 2015 food and nutrition human rights compliant policies, i.e., policy coherence with the human rights principles and framework as unequivocally recently demanded by the Secretary general . (I cannot understand why the UNHCHR is not a cosponsor of ICN2!).

      Issue 2: Governance issues in the nutrition community. As many colleagues will know, after decades, civil society participation in the UN SCN has been excluded and the SCN has primarily become a vehicle for the SUN initiative coordination. (Mind you, SUN has an important corporate and TNC involvement). Actually, the whole issue of private sector participation in global nutrition governance has to be re-discussed critically.

      Issue 3: We cannot continue working in nutrition without dealing with what unfair free trade agreements (FTAs) are doing to nutrition, or without dealing with the financial crisis in rich and poor countries.

      A much more proactive critique and action is needed in these areas.

      These are just three of the issues dear to civil society that come to my mind now. But, of course, there are other. I am sure other colleagues participating in this consultation can add other (Issue 4:…, Issue 5:…, Issue 6:…..). Will ICN2 have these in the agenda of the official ministerial meeting? The question I ask is: Can our consultation make a fervent call to this effect? The first challenge is to put these issues in the agenda. I think the preparatory meeting next November in Rome is crucial and civil society has a pivotal role to play there.

      Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City

    • I have to say that, so far, I have been surprised that big industry has been silent in this consultation. I'd say most contributions have dealt with 'small private sector' potential or proven inputs.
      But, not trying to be repetitive, I want all of us to be conscious of the big picture of how the private sector can and often is bad news and works at counter-purpose to what all of us aspire.

      Let's take the example of PP()Ps:
      PPPs are seen by the Establishment as a way to bring new financial resources to address global challenges --nutrition included. However, in reality, they have further reinforced selective vertical programs by focusing on non-sustainable, technocratic solutions to single issues (e.g. fortification with micronutrients or supplementation). They are simply not addressing the social determination of malnutrition or many of the burning needs of national health and nutrition systems to deliver such services, especially preventive.
      To me, it is clear: PPPs need to be seriously questioned since they have proven to be unable to promote horizontally-integrated, social interventions with an explicit commitment to strengthen local systems and, most of all, to respond to locally felt needs seldom allowed to be expressed. They have been unable (unwilling?) to build new alliances with people's civil society organizations and social movements that are struggling for more participatory decision-making in all health and nutrition matters.  
      Existing global PPPs must thus be audited, in order to expose the basic flaws and rules that such PPPs ongoingly apply plus their flagrant conflicts of interest on the many occasions where they are influencing public decision making. They are not to be allowed to build upon existing public systems and not to embed the actions they fund in national structures --always with the ulterior motives of profit or gains in market share and also of 'white-washing' their bad conscience and reputation.
      There is more to criticize, but I stop here for now.

      PS: How do colleagues think this is different (if at all) from how global philanthropies work? Why do some call this philanthrocapitalism?

      Cludio Schuftan, People's Health Movement, Ho Chi Minh City

    • Dear GFFSN,

      Let me be one of the first to contribute to this forum. Allow me to do so by, as a devil’s advocate, zeroing in on what I do have strong different views than what is expressed in the background invitational write-up.

      You say: We subscribe to the view outlined in the topic note that all sectors must work together for this common goal and look forward to your feedback on the issues raised. I would like to let readers know that as PHM, FIAN, IBFAN-GIFA and ICCO we wrote a letter to the moderators a week ago requesting that the consultation be split into two since we are of the opinion that the private sector has different motivations than civil society and should contribute to the consultation questions separately. (Readers may ask moderators to publish that letter). Yes, work on this topic all sectors must, but only sometimes together and sometimes in sharp opposition (e.g., big food).

      You say: The role of social safety nets in protecting nutrition is also recognized as are direct measures targeted at reducing stunting and addressing acute malnutrition. On June 13, in this same forum I posted: “Let us now, once and for all, stop talking about safety nets! This is what leads to mere tinkering within the system. The ongoing casino capitalism with its global restructuring, creates the problems, and food and nutrition professionals are supposed to pick up the pieces? Just so that poor and marginalized people do not revolt? Who is cheating whom here? We need to stop victimizing poor people and then throwing them bread-crumbs. What about changing the system that makes safety nets for poor people necessary to begin with? So, is the role of social networks universally recognized?

      You say: …our work needs to be founded on inclusive broad based development and sustainable economic growth. Do you mean sustainable redistributive economic growth?

      You say: the World Bank reminds us that investing in nutrition makes sense from an economic point of view as every dollar invested generates a return of up to $US30. How often do we need to repeat, especially in this forum, that investing in nutrition makes sense, because it is a human right, NOT because it makes sense from an economic point of view!

      You say: Smallholder farmers as private sector entrepreneurs…No problem here. But when you call the private sector to contribute to this debate with civil society it will be big private sector that will take the opportunity. Small farmers can incorporate as  social movements and be on the civil society side of the debate.      

      You say: promote policies which will enable the private sector to continue to innovate and invest in the food and agriculture sector. What do we think with be the ratio bigbusiness:small entrepreneurs investing in food and agriculture? Look at land-grabbing, at junk food, at vertical integration of the agroindustry (Monsanto, Syngenta et al). The end balance will tilt towards malnutrition producing investments, don’t you think?

      You say: All sectors must work together for this common goal. Nobody is as smart as all of us. Do I have to remind readers that big business consistently tries to outsmart us? Think about it: we mostly react, not proact…

      You say: public-private partnerships (PPP) that combine the individual strengths of respective sectors can collectively help build food and nutrition security through socially responsible, market-led investments and growth. This, I probably found the most biased in the background write-up. Just look and the work IBFAN, PHM, FIAN and others (not forgetting Judith Richter) have done to decisively debunk this myth. Many of us have been vocally critical of the SUN initiative precisely because of this.

      You say: Private companies, civil society, knowledge institutions and government (the golden quadrant). Can I respectfully ask where this quite deceiving appellation comes from?

      You say: to reach the underserved consumer. Going back to what I say above, who reaches them most? Are we not losing a battle here?  And finally,

      You say: ensure the post-2015 MDG agenda includes nutrition security as an explicit part of food security. Readers should also know that many of us are now switching to much more accurate term ‘nutrition sovereignty’ which we are trying hard to introduce in post 2015 deliberations.

      Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Ming City

      [email protected]

    • Please find the answers to Nyasha's questions in italics below:

      What are the key institutional and governance challenges to the delivery of cross-sectoral and comprehensive social protection policies that protect and promote nutrition of the most vulnerable? Your contributions can cover all instititutional and governance issues you know to affect the delivery of cross-sectoral nutrition enhancing social protection policies.

      Both serious institutional and governance can be put under the same umbrella of political constraints at the decision making level which are still very much top-down. Attempts at cross-sectoral have historically failed since there is the ideological underpinning of elites running state affairs. This will cotinue to fail unless a  counterpower is achieved through active empowerment and mobilization of claim holders.

      e.g. who are the stakeholders: claim holders and duty bearers rather...
      power balance: absolutely the key
      intersectoral conflicts, intersectoral coordination, decentralization: all these play a role, but secondary to power issues
      and community participation absolutely the key
      institutional capacity, financial capacity, roles and responsibilities for oversight holding the state and private sector accountable
      legislative accountability, inclusiveness, rights based approach absolutely the key.

      1.        In discussing this question, please provide examples and case studies of successful or failed cross sectoral social protection policies that promote nutrition: would I be exaggerating if ratio success:failure in this is >50:1?  reasons why your examples succeeded or failed political as per above.

      For example in the concept note Brazil's Zero Hunger programme is given as a successful example of a national and multisectoral social protection system promoting nutrition: the political thrust in Brazil is undeniable!. Another example given is the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC)’s Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction in Bangladesh: I declare my ignorance about this one

      2.       Please recommend possible solutions to the institutional and governance challenges that you identify from your experiences, examples/case studies or literature. A massive human rights/right to food learning cum empowerment effort is needed both for claim holders and duty bearers followed by social mobilization of the former to demand their rights.

      I'll be glad to elaborate if challenged.

    • Let us now, once and for all, stop talking about safety nets! This is what leads to mere tinkering within the system. The ongoing casino capitalism with its global restructuring, creates the problems, and food and nutrition professionals are supposed to pick up the pieces? Just so that poor and marginalised people do not revolt? Who is cheating whom here? We need to stop victimising poor people and them throwing them bread-crumbs. What about changing the system that makes safety nets for poor people necessary to begin with?

      Claudio, PHM

    • Dear all,
      please find below my responses - in italics - to the questions raised by the facilitator in her latest post:

      What are the main issues for policy-makers to consider in the design, formulation and implementation of nutrition-enhancing social protection measures?

      ·         Studies have shown that the first 1000 days of life are a crucial window for preventing irreversible undernutrition like stunting. Yet other research rebuts this position by showing that catch-up growth is still possible even after the first 1000 days of life. From your experiences, who should we target when implementing nutrition enhancing social protection measures?

      Under 3 years

      ·         Should we only always give cash or food transfers to women?

      Not only cash, but cash has proven to work as social protection. Food transfers have a bad track record other than for emergencies: No.

      ·         Should we only always target the poorest? Rural households? Or should we consider universal social protection schemes?

      As a Human Rights obligation always start with poorest and most marginalized. No option here.

      ·         Recent research shows that stunting has far reaching consequences even affecting income earning capacities in adulthood and on a national scale leading to two –three percent losses in GDP (Bhutta, Sachdev et al. 2008). In that case, should we prioritize eliminating stunting over wasting or underweight? Or we should not prioritize one over the other?

      I may be conservative here, but I would prioritize eliminating stunting.

      ·         What are some of the lessons you have learned, best practices concerning social protection measures implemented to enhance food security and nutrition?

      E,g cash transfers

      food transfers
      do not work other than emergencies

      school feeding
      is an educational and not a nutrition intervention!,


      I see reference to the issue of food sovereignty importantly missing here!!

    • Let us be honest. Food and nutrition issues get little policy attention from decision-makers. The lack of action is not due to a lack of knowledge by the latter. Other gaps are at the root - gaps that denote a deliberate choice of not attending to food and nutrition matters. It is ultimately power relations that affect policy choices. Policy processes can only be fully understood if analyzed politically. Consciousness raising and social mobilization are indispensable to influence policy processes. Research organizations have hardly engaged in this consciousness raising; most of them are rather conservative; they think that if decision-makers have more and better knowledge they will indeed take urgently needed decisions. But decision makers never go against their own interests. What is missing is to focus on what to do about the need for structural changes that address the basic causes of preventable hunger and malnutrition by organizing pressure from below; thus the importance of empowering claim holders.


    • Dear all,

      2.  You mention pro-poor economic growth policies. I feel uncomfortable with any use of pro-poor. I have many times written that we rather need poverty alleviation (or rather disparity reduction!!) policies that are pro-nutrition. There is a big difference there. Pro-poor has the connotation of  throwing a few crumbs, but leave them in poverty kind'a thing. It victimizes the poor.

      3. This relates to your Q3:
      How can we mobilize the political will necessary to put policies for hunger reduction and improved nutrition higher on the list of political priorities?

      • Should we not be mobilizing politically for disparity reduction at least in parallel if not before?
      • Can we change political will of elites with entrenched interests? Is this an illusion? Are we not really talking about exerting de-facto counter-power to their political priorities?

      Claudio in Ho Chi Minh City

    • Dear Moderator,

      I have been participating in the debate through a group of CSOs giving input to FAO.
      We have all been frustrated at the reluctance of the drafters to add in the text a mention to the alternative use of the concept of food sovereignty.
      I do not need to add here, to the persons who have the expertise to contribute to this debate the important differences between F+NS and food sovereignty.
      We are not advocating a total switch to this terminology; just an acknowledgement and a reason why this may not be a choice for FAO would help bringing the document up to the present.