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During its 46th Plenary Session (14-18 October 2019), the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) adopted its four-year Programme of Work (MYPoW 2020-2023), which includes a request to the High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (CFS-HLPE) to produce a report on “Data collection and analysis tools” for food security and nutrition, to be presented at the 50th Plenary session of the CFS in October 2022 (to access the MYPoW, please click here).

The report, which will provide recommendations to the CFS workstream “Data collection and analysis tools”, will:

  • Identify the barriers impeding quality data collection, analysis, and use in decision-making;
  • Identify specific high priority gaps in data production and analysis not covered by ongoing initiatives;
  • Highlight the benefits of using data and the opportunity costs of not using data for decisions;
  • Illustrate initiatives that have encouraged evidence-based decisions in agriculture and food security across the public, private, and academic sectors as well as approaches that have not worked;
  • Provide insights into how to ensure data collection and its utilization give voice to the people most affected by policies stemming from that data, including farmers and other food producers.

To implement this CFS request, the HLPE is launching an open e-consultation to seek views and comments on the V0 draft of the report

The report will be presented at CFS 50th Plenary session in October 2022. As part of the process of elaboration of its reports, the HLPE is organizing a consultation to seek inputs, suggestions, and comments on the present preliminary V0 draft (more details on the different steps of the process, are available here). The results of this consultation will be used by the HLPE to further elaborate the report, which will then be submitted to external expert review, before finalization and approval by the HLPE Steering Committee.
HLPE V0-drafts of reports are deliberately presented early enough in the process - as a work-in-progress, with their range of imperfections – to allow sufficient time to properly consider the feedbacks received in the elaboration of the report. E-consultations are a key part of the inclusive and knowledge-based dialogue between the HLPE Steering Committee and the knowledge community at large.

How can you contribute to the development of the report?

This V0 draft identifies areas for recommendations and contributions on which the HLPE would welcome suggestions or proposals. The HLPE would welcome contributions in particular addressing the following questions, including with reference to context-specific issues:

1. The V0-draft introduces a conceptual framework that orders the components of the food security and nutrition ecosystem based on their proximity to people’s immediate decision making sphere, from the macro to the individual levels, and describes a four-stage data-driven decision making cycle for food security and nutrition (FSN), from priority setting to data utilization. Use of the two is illustrated through a matrix template that facilitates the concurrent operationalization of the conceptual framework and data driven decision-making cycle to address issues relevant for FSN.

  1. Do you find the proposed framework an effective conceptual device to highlight and discuss the key issues affecting data collection and analysis for FSN?
  2. Do you think that this conceptual framework can indeed contribute to providing practical guidance for data collection for FSN?
  3. Do you think that this four-stage data driven decision making cycle for FSN addresses the key steps in the data collection and analysis process for FSN? Where do you see the more relevant bottlenecks in the data driven decision making cycle for FSN?
  4. Can you offer suggestions for examples that would be useful to illustrate in a matrix template that facilitates the operationalization of the conceptual framework and data driving decision-making cycle to address issues relevant for FSN?

2. The report adopts the broader definition of food security, proposed by HLPE in 2020, which includes the two dimensions of agency and sustainability, alongside the traditional four of availability, access, utilization and stability.

  1. Does the V0-draft cover sufficiently the implications of broadening the definition of food security for data collection, analysis and use?
  2. What type of data will be most useful in measuring food security dimensions such as “agency” and “sustainability”?

3. The V0-draft reviews existing FSN data collection and analysis tools, initiatives and trends.

  1. Do you think that the review adequately covers the existing ones? If not, what would you add?
  2. Do you think that the trends identified are indeed the key ones in affecting data generation, analysis and use for FSN? If not, which other trends should be taken into account?
  3. In particular, can you offer feedback on how digital technology, internet of things, artificial intelligence, big data, and agriculture 4.0 affect FSN? What is their likely impact in the coming decades?

4. The report discusses capacity constraints at local, national and global levels, with a special focus on statistical and analytical capacity.

  1. Do you think that the V0-draft covers all the issues – and their consequences - of capacity constraints at the different levels?
  2. If your answer a. was “no”, then what additional issues regarding capacity constraints should be added to the analysis?

5. The V0-draft discusses the role of new and emerging technologies in data collection and analysis tools for FSN.

  1. Do you think that the presentation of new and emerging technologies captures the main trends? What other new and emerging technologies could be discussed in the report?
  2. In what other ways can new and emerging technologies be relevant to each of the stages/aspects of the FSN data value chain/data lifecycle (i.e., Define evidence priorities and questions; Review, consolidate, collect, curate and analyze data; Translate and disseminate results and conclusions; Engage and use results and conclusions to make decisions)?
  3. In what other ways can new and emerging technologies be relevant to each of the FSN dimensions (i.e., Availability; Access; Utilization; Stability; Agency; Sustainability)?
  4. What are some of the issues with respect to ethical use of data, access, agency and ownership linked to these new and emerging technologies that should be further discussed in the report?

6. The report reviews issues concerning institutions and governance for data collection, analysis and use, with a focus on data governance principles, data protection, transparency and governance of official statistics, the implications for governance of an increasingly digitalized world, and examples of initiatives addressing governance challenges.

  1. Are there any issues concerning governance of data for FSN that have not been sufficiently covered in the draft report?
  2. What are some of the risks inherent in data-driven technologies for FSN? How can these risks be mitigated? What are some of the issues related to data privacy, access and control that should be carefully considered?
  3. What are the minimum requirements of an efficient FSN data system and how should these be prioritized?
  4. Which mechanism or organization should ensure good governance of data and information systems for FSN? How to regulate and mitigate potential conflicts between public and private ownership of data?
  5. What are the financing needs and the financial mechanisms and tools that should be established to allow all countries to collect, analyse and use FSN data?

7. Drawing on HLPE reports and analysis in the wider literature, in the next draft the report will outline examples of potential policy pathways to address challenges to data collection and analysis tools for FSN.

  1. What data do the global community and international organizations need in order to gain an appropriate insight into the current state of world food security and to agree on and design international action to improve it?
  2. What data do countries need for more effective decision-making for food security and nutrition and to inform policies for the transformation of food systems?
  3. Please suggest references to cases that illustrate policies and initiatives aimed at:
    • improving equity in access to data for FSN policies and decisions, including at grassroot and local levels;
    • enhancing capacities with respect to data generation, access, analysis and use by different actors;
    • specifically harnessing of traditional and indigenous/first nations knowledge.
  1. Please provide references and examples of success: good data leading to good policies (context-specific), or any lessons to be learned from a failed data collection/utilization attempt.
  2. Please also suggest any initiative and good practice aimed at addressing:
    • the specific constraints of generating a minimum set of indicators in conflict and disaster- affected areas;
    • capacity gaps of local institutions, farmers’, producers’ and workers’ organizations in generating, sharing and analysing good quality data, as well as in using data to inform decision-making in food systems;
    • capacity gaps at country level to generate and use data in policy-making processes, monitoring and reporting related to SDG2; including with respect to financial resources, human resources, data management, legislation and the enabling environment and FSN governance.
  1. Please also provide any additional references with respect to:
    • minimum data requirements (baseline) for FSN at country level;
    • qualitative data;
    • data representing traditional knowledge.

8. Please provide your feedback on the following:

  1. Are there any major omissions or gaps in the V0-draft?    
  2. Are topics under- or over-represented in relation to their importance?    
  3. Are there any redundant facts or statements that could be eliminated from the V0-draft?
  4. Are any facts or conclusions refuted, questionable or assertions with no evidence-base?

We thank in advance all the contributors for reading, commenting and providing inputs on this V0 draft of the report. We look forward to a rich and fruitful consultation!

The HLPE Steering Committee

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World Food Programme Nutrition Division

The document seems to be quite theoretical, and it feels it misses a bit the linkage between the need the data is trying to address; and what is required to achieve that. There is a practical implementation component that could be reinforced throughout the document to make it as useful as possible. 

Please find list of more detailed comments: 

1. Conceptual framework and analytical matrix 

  • Data is not defined within the document. Agreeing on what data is important to define challenges in collecting, analysing, and using it for decision-making. 
  • It would be helpful to explain why better data is needed and frame the magnitude of the challenge. 
  • Differentiating between different types of data might also be useful. Different data present different challenges, opportunities and uses. Additionally, the report seems to be focusing on surveys and quantitative data collection. Recognising the important of qualitative and ethnographic data collection might be important, particularly when trying to measure very complex processes and outcomes. This might be particularly relevant when measuring the added dimension of “agency”.
  • Systems should not be limited to agri-food and health systems. Other systems such as social protection or education systems might be key to achieve food and nutrition security. 
  • This matrix proposed broadly follows traditional MEL systems, though simplifies what is a very complex system. It might be helpful to better detail: 
  1. How and by who data is used for decision-making
  2. The processes through which decision-making and realities on the ground feed back into defining priorities and the data collection and analysis process.
  3. Data interpretation plays an important role in the decision-making cycle  
  4. How does one decides on priorities? 
  • The report does a good job at detailing constraints to generate data in food security and nutrition. However, in addition to addressing constraints, it might be more practical to help decision-makers generate evidence/make use of evidence within existing constraints.  
  • The evidence priorities should be guided by what a policy/programme/initiative is aiming to achieve and how it intends to do so. As a result, it might be helpful to frame the first step of the matrix in terms of research questions and hypothesis to be tested or validated rather than in terms of “evidence priorities”. 
  • In the matrix, the cross-cutting FSN dimensions should be integrated within each of the core dimensions rather than being a category on their own. They should be guiding what to look at in the different categories of the conceptual framework. For example, “access for those with low consumption” should have research questions declined under macro, system, personal and individual levels. 

2.    Additional dimensions of agency and sustainability.

  • Definitions of “agency” and “sustainability“ are needed. Without clear definitions, harmonizing measurement and data collection will be difficult. The report needs to be clear on what we are measuring, why and how. 
  • Concept of “agency” requires more granular data. For example, data at the household level can hide nuances at the individual level too. It is important to discuss the lack of data representative at sub-national levels but at the level of other relevant levels/groups to reflect different vulnerabilities such as livelihoods, urban vs. rural, refugee camps, people with disability etc. 

3. The V0-draft reviews existing FSN data collection and analysis tools, initiatives and trends.

  • Generally, it might be useful to also highlight or point to long standing sources of data that are collected on a regular basis and can be used to inform food and nutrition security policies and programming. 
  1. Sources of data malnutrition and health data (e.g. DHS stat, JME etc.)
  2. Sources on food expenditure and consumption data (e.g. LSMS)
  3. Price data coming from CPI 
  • Additional existing initiatives that can be added add (note some of them are still at early stages)
  1. Prices and cost: Food prices for Nutrition at TUFTs, FNG Stat at WFP 
  2. Environmental data: GLEAM at FAO 
  3. FCT: Periodic Table of Foods Initiatives 
  4. Bringing data sources together and visualising different dimensions: Hunger Map Lives at WFP
  5. Costing tools: SEEMS at the University of Washington 
  • Source of data or initiatives looking at other than quantitative data should be added. 
  • The following challenges to evidence use could be considered: 
  1. Generating data at the right level/ need for sub-national and individual data: data often does not have the right level of disaggregation (e.g. livelihood vs. administrative zones) and data at the sub-national level is often missing or incomplete which hides some of the nuances within specific countries and context. There is a need for more granular individual data to reflect different vulnerabilities (e.g. adolescent girls vs. 50 year old man). 
  2. Regularity of data: Recognising the cyclical or changing nature of FSN requires data that is collected more frequently. For example, seasonality matters in many contexts and cuts over different levels within the framework.  
  3. Data documentation and data collection tools need to be available. Otherwise, this can create risks in how the data is being used.  
  4. Timeliness is not limited to the data collection and analysis stage. Discussion, review, publication, graphics can delay access to this information. 

4.    Capacity constraints 

  • More attention could be given to the issue of consolidating existing data or making different data talk to each other rather than generating new data. For example, the work on nutrition information systems and efforts to consolidate existing monitoring data for decision-making. This also links with the importance of developing coding systems to link different sources and types of data. Touching upon innovations around this would be useful. 
  • More emphasis should be given to strengthening national capacity to collect timely, quality, and relevant data. Fragmentation of the data collection landscape within government agencies should be also discussed. In many countries agricultural, food and nutrition data are not collected by national statistics offices but by different ministries. 

5.    Emerging technologies 

  • Additional possible uses of new technologies:
  1. Calculate environmental impact of policy/programmes/initiatives
  2. Understand trade-offs between different policy options 
  • Risks of new technologies are very high-level and not disaggregated across users and actors/players. It would be helpful to provide a framework to understand risks for different groups. For example, are risks for small-holder farmers the same as for retailers? A framework to weigh trade-off in terms of risks that can materialize could be helpful. 
  • Important to highlight those new technologies might exacerbate some of the capacity constraints already existing and outlined in the report. 
  • The section on governance is somehow short compared to the rest of the report but is an essential aspect, particularly as we improve coordination, harmonization and sharing of information. 

Some additional comments on specific sections of the document are provided below: 

  • On page 4, reference is made to Figure II in (UNICEF, 1990, Figure II). This has been updated and thus might consider updating the reference and associated thinking (if changes are considered large enough)
  • In 1.1 Within the food and nutrition system; there is a continuous flow of data within existing information systems. It could be beneficial to reinforce data collection includes linking it with existing data points and/or collecting data for a specific purpose. 
  • In 1.1; it might be worthwhile to reinforce that data should only be collected if it is going to be used; and thus, contributes to answering the main hypothesis developed. 
  • Under 2. P18 I would add this the absence of a common agreement on a FSN framework within stakeholders also influences priority setting as not all stakeholders might be aligned within their policies/strategies but also understanding on how to measure FSN and its drivers. This can influence outcomes of initiatives, and uptake as there are different lenses used by different stakeholders. 
  • Under 2. P18, suggest adding under timelines that pending on context; gaps within the framework might be large and not always possible to fill (as data collection cannot address all and/or its unfeasible to do so). There might also be contexts where it is impossible to fill the gap due to external factors (as expressed in box on conflict)
  • Under 2. P18, we would also add underutilization that it needs to address a concrete need, and utilization is linked to an identification of users before undertaken the exercise. This needs to be considered.

Comments on the HLPE Report version 0: Data collection and analysis tools for food security and nutrition

Athur Mabiso
Senior Technical Specialist (Economist)
Research and Impact Assessment Division, IFAD
January 2022

Comments

As discussed in Chapter 4 of the report, there is need to explore the application of big data approaches and artificial intelligence (AI) to complement existing data tools. While AI has promise to enhance information systems that are relevant for food policy action to address issues of food insecurity and malnutrition, it is not always clear where the priorities lie. In this regard, the report could help shape the global conversation on some of the priority areas where data collection and analysis tools might provide avenues for broadly improving food security and nutrition.

The combination of survey methodologies as well as alternate data gathering approaches, including crowd-sourced data, should definitely all be on the table as highlighted in the report. However, there are varied limitations depending on the approaches, that will need to be taken into account. For instance, while big data approaches are quite useful for predictive analytics, there are limitations to using these kinds of data to assess impacts of interventions/investments designed to improve food security and nutrition. General guidelines on how these different approaches can and should be used will be important to avoid misuse.

This will also imply investments in human capacities as well as technologies, especially in developing country contexts.  To be able to leverage big data analytics for food security and nutrition significant human capacity is required and it is not yet clear to what extent governments will need to invest in their current workforce versus the future generation (particularly youth and children in secondary schools). Undoubtedly, a link between the education investments, curricular changes and issues of food security and nutrition will need to be made. The report may want to include a discussion on this topic – how to leverage investments in education and technology to address food security and nutrition challenges in developing countries.

With regard to traditional data collection approaches, which largely include household and community surveys as well as censuses, the quality of data obtained from these approaches still needs to be improved and just because new data approaches are emerging, we should not lose sight of the critical data obtained from traditional means. This will mean continuing to invest in and work closely with national statistical agencies and ministries of agriculture, health, nutrition, and gender (across disciplines) to generate statistics that are relevant for all actors to make a difference in food security and nutrition.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the world witnessed challenges in collecting up-to-date data on food security and nutrition. However, one tool that evidently provided vital information was the use of telephone surveys. For example, the World Bank launched its high-frequency telephone surveys, which allowed collection of timely data useful for policymaking. Going forward, there will need to be a careful assessment on how best to leverage this approach of collecting data, including determining best practices to ensure quality of data collected through this approach. At the same time, the approach of using telephones to conduct surveys has significant limitations that ought to be recognized and taken into account. For instance, the individuals who are likely to have access to a telephones will often be better off compared to those who live in the remotest rural areas and where cell phone network coverage is weak or does not exist. Moreover, there is evidence that women and some of the elderly people in poor communities might not have access to a telephone. As such, statistics on food security and nutrition generated through telephone surveys, particularly in developing country context, may have significant biases that could lead to erroneous policy decisions and actions. This needs careful consideration and should be emphasized in the report.

Thus, as part of improving the capabilities of nations to collect data using digital tools such as cell phones and tablets, there will be a need to invest in the necessary network infrastructure, enabling access for all, in addition to working on digital literacy. More traditional approaches may continue to be relevant for quite some time, including last-mile connectors (e.g. extension agents, mobile money merchants, etc.) who interface with many individuals who are not digitally connected or literate. Many such “data agents” work within government ministries at community levels and may prove to be a crucial part of the system for data collection for food security and nutrition.

The report aptly highlights the risks associated with the new data/digital technologies used for data collection and in particular data analysis. One of the issues at hand is the lack of a global data governance framework. The report may benefit from citing the work that is being undertaken by the UN High-Level Committee on Programmes (HLCP) where a global data governance framework will be looked into as part of its workstream under pillar 2, new global public goods: https://unsceb.org/session-report-369.

While this work is broader than food security and nutrition, it is relevant an perhaps there is a need to highlight how a global data governance framework might be put in place specifically to address issues of food security and nutrition.

Regarding recent initiatives (section 5.5 of the report), it may be worth including for review, the work of TetraTech supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where several development partners are providing technical input, including IFAD: Enabling Crop Analytics At Scale.

A separate initiative also worth looking at is the Development Data Partnership, which includes UNDP, IMF, IDB, World Bank and OECD together with several private sector companies such as Google, Meta (Facebook) and Esri.

Dear High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition,

I am providing comments on behalf of the Ministry of Health of Brazil. Thank you for sharing the draft of this valuable discussion.

We appreciate the online consultation for the Draft report on Data collection and analysis tools for food security and nutrition and recognize the importance of the subject.

It is important to emphasize that the promotion of food and nutritional security should encompass the concept of the human right to food, considering healthy food as an eating practice appropriate to local biological and sociocultural aspects, taking into account: i) the needs of each phase of the life course and special dietary needs; ii) the local food culture and the dimensions of gender, race and ethnicity; iii) accessibility from physical and financial point of view; iv) balanced quantity and quality, safety, diversification; and v) sustainable productive practices.

We would like to highlight the importance of intensifying and strengthening countries data collection and analysis capabilities to evaluate the food and nutritional situation of its population, as well as its determinants. This effort should aim at identifying the health, food and nutritional profile of a country’s population, as well as possible gaps and deficiencies, in order to inform public policies on food and nutritional security.

Healthy balanced diets and food security promote all dimensions of individual health and well-being and helps to protect against malnutrition in all its forms. Therefore, it is crucial that safe and healthy food is available to all.

Thank you again and best regards,

Larissa Eloia
Assessoria de Assuntos Internacionais em Saúde – AISA
Gabinete do Ministro | Ministério da Saúde

Congratulations to HLPE for embarking on this massive exercise to combine approaches to updated data collection for FSN with developing tools for analysis and policy formulation at different levels. My comments are guided by questions for feedback under 1 and 2 without directly responding to each of these.

I commend including the two additional dimensions in the in the renewed food security definition, but miss a better role for all dimensions as drivers in data collection.. I regret the lack of an explicit normative approach to the whole exercise by not applying a human rights-based approach. I ask whether the conceptual frameworks for the matrix proposed are the best ones and refer to the option of a right to food matrix as developed in the context of FAO. Finally, I ask HLPE and the Steering Committee to address human rights/the right to food in HLPE 17 in line with HLPE 15.

The expanded FSN definition: The definition of food security proposed in the V0 Draft was, in my opinion, one of two particularly notable contributions in the HLPE 15. The other was the effort to place the narrative on desirable developments towards 2030 in an explicit human rights/right to food framework, this has not been followed up in the V0 17, as I come back to.

The two “new” concepts agency and sustainability (as added to the earlier four: availability; access, stability, and utilization that have typically been used within the UN FSN circles) greatly enrich the food security concept. As expressed by the authors themselves these have already been around for a long time in parts of the discussion around FSN. It is therefore very timely to bring them in as components in a reformulated FS concept when discussing data collection and analysis tools for FS at different organizational levels and their interrelations as part of a maturing FS understanding.

Agency as originally launched by Amartya Sen has - at least in part, been embedded in talks and action around people’s participation in matters that concern themselves, especially when the discussions have included capacity and resources for action, and the needed authority for implementing certain tasks and practices. I am inclined to think it might be better to keep to the more easily understood “participation language” in the widest sense rather than the elegant term agency of Sen – after all it has a double meaning which can create confusion and it can to some appear very academic.

In this connection, the V0 does not reflect the needed balance between quantitative and qualitative methodologies to collect data based on real needs of those most experiencing food insecurity and malnutrition. The request by the CFS for the HLPE 17 included to “Provide insights into how to ensure data collection and its utilization give voice to the people most affected stemming from that data, including farmers and other food producers”. This is unclear as it does not explicitly mention the importance that all vulnerable population groups themselves be directly involved in collection of “that data” relating to their own situation. Participatory data collection engaging these groups themselves is indispensable. UNICEF among others has been in the forefront for many years to build participatory capacity for community engagement which is very relevant for local data collection and subsequent action from which indicators of agency or participatory principles can be generated and stimulated.

Sustainability is increasingly critical in the context of e.g., preservation of biodiversity, adaptation to climate change, different agricultural methods now with increasingly greater attention to acro-ecology, and generally in the economic, environmental, and social contexts of a household, representing a wider foundation for stability as well. So far, the concept is not really operationalized in V0 but must be done in the continuation; it is noted that various groups use the term differently. The concept also reminds that FSN links to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030 which is an additional advantage.

The expanded framework was recently applied by the FAO Legal Office/Development Law Service in a publication on “Transforming agri-food systems. Legislative interventions for improved nutrition and sustainability” (see reference below).

Taking seriously an explicit normative approach as anchored in CFS: According to the 4-step decision-making cycle this starts with defining a set of one to three “evidence priorities”. But what should drive this selection? In the e-consultation in March 2021 on the scope of the forthcoming HLPR 17, the CSM called for a normative dimension: “The report should be clear about collecting data for what, how and for whose benefit. We propose, based on the CFS normative anchoring, that this report should identify how data collection and use can contribute to upholding the rights of Indigenous Peoples, women, peasants and family farmers, workers throughout food systems, fisherfolk, pastoralists, consumers; and how data collection and use should be governed and regulated in order to respect and protect human and peoples’ rights.”

Surprisingly, however, in spite of having drawn inspiration from HLPE 15 as regards the expanded CFS definition, the V0 Draft is void of any reference to its human rights orientation. The HLPE 15 placed the whole narrative in a human rights /right to food perspective (even if coming short on the more specific features and procedures of the system as developed within the UN). I believe that many more than me even may have visualized this as a step towards a profound and professional discussion within the frame of the CFS, leaning on the Committee’s articulated value base as originally established in the Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition and reflected in several of the products from CFS over the years since its reform in 2009. These in turn were grounded in international human rights law and in the extensive elaboration by countries themselves in the “Voluntary Guidelines on the Progressive Realization of the Human Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security” adopted by the FAO Council in October 2004. FAO followed up with further extensive operationalization which was collected in the FAO Right to Food Methodological Toolbox in 2009 and several further practical Handbooks in 2014 based on these tools (references below). Some HLPE reports have related to human rights, most substantively HLPE 4.

It is not known why the drafters of V0 completely left out reference to this part of the narrative. They may have a priori bended to assumed political resistance to bring in human rights (as was exemplified in the negotiations for the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition (VGFSyN). The independent science-policy arm of CFS ought however to take this opportunity to consider data and analysis tools in a human rights context. Not to do so is regrettable in general, and specifically since the human rights institutional and procedural frameworks indeed call for data from all state parties to important human rights instruments, including the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and others.

Unfortunately, many in the food system/nutrition community remain unaware that these instruments have been ratified by a majority of UN Member States; also, that their own country may be among these and therefore being obliged to report periodically on the situation in their countries regarding the realisation of the provisions contained in these instruments – including the right to adequate food. In return they receive critical-constructive comments from the respective convention committees or treaty bodies of the UN on their performance, and suggestions for how to improve their situation.

Since the national reports have been very varied as regards the scope and quality of the data used by each country, data and analysis tools as now to be elaborated could also serve in building desirable indicators for use in such reporting. Furthermore, the full use of the agency concept and how it can be unlocked in practice becomes particularly critical and important for a human rights-based approach to data and indicators, whether structural, process or outcome indicators as typically relevant in human rights state reporting, and data needed for these.

The building and use of matrices as analytical tools in the V0 Draft. The V0 operates with three said conceptual frameworks (sometimes also calling the FS definition a framework) and merging them into one. One may ask whether the data driven decision making cycle for FSN is perhaps more a stepwise plan for any data collection process aimed to nourish policy formulation and action. Does it fit to use the term ‘conceptual framework’ for this? The six- component definition of food security is defined as cross-cutting the different levels in the FSN socio-ecosystem model as the other framework, assumed to give ideas for data within a matrix combining the two others. One might also think of a matrix where the components of food security become primary co-drivers of data identification in the first place, combined in a matrix with the different organizational levels.

A third option is the matrix developed over many years for the human right to adequate food, where the role or obligations of states that are parties to e.g., the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) are nuanced with regard to the degree of gradual state involvement in realizing the right to food (article 11 of the ICESCR). The matrix template (or variations of it) juxtaposes the chosen definition of food security with the commonly accepted categories of state obligations and engagement in terms of respecting, protecting, and fulfilling the right to food, the latter further nuanced in facilitating and/or directly providing when necessary. This opens up for conceptualisations about contextual actions and data needs at different levels. After a long gestalt period for this framework from its first presentation in a study on food as a human right in 1987 by the then UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights on request from the UN Commission (now Council) on Human Rights - and onwards, for a while merely in academic circles and some NGOs. The 1996 World Food Summit was a game changer in requesting a clarification of the right to food concept. Recent examples of the right to food matrix are i.a. available in the rich material developed by FAO’S Right to Food Unit (now Team) following the Right to Food Guidelines from 2004 onwards, see references below.

The right to food matrix has throughout included the concept of “adequacy” of the food (diet (further defined), besides availability, access, sustainability, and stability. Adequacy is lacking as such both in the four- and new six component model for FSN (but there somehow to be accommodated under ‘utilization’). The food security definition underlying the definition of the right to food has inspired General Comments 12, 14, 15 and 16 from the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. on interpreting the right to food, to health, to water, and to education, respectively. Also, similar matrix templates have been proposed for these other rights.

The potential of a human rights-based approach – to be revisited and unlocked by HLPE? Part of the problem of not getting a serious discussion of FSN in a human rights context is, beside political constraints, that the right to food and related rights are unfortunately institutionally and conceptually still quite distant from the mainstream FSN circles based in the agricultural, food policy and nutrition expert and - not least - diplomatic circles. (“Human rights are for Geneva, not for Rome…”) That means that resistance to a rights-based approach to FSN has been able to grow over recent years led by a few dominant Member states, well noted during the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition adopted by the CFS in January 2021 which didn’t even include a definition of the right to food as a human right. It must be hoped that the team behind the V0 supported by the Steering Committee will take a new round of reflection of how the HLPE can break the current stalemate honouring the right to food as a human right and the special voluntary guidelines developed for it by FAO Member states less than two decades ago. There is a large, unlocked potential implied for a systemic and holistic approach to some of the most pressing problems related to hunger and all forms of malnutrition, besides related challenges regarding better and sustained planetary and environmental health. This may at the same time increase “human rights literacy” the widespread lack of which easily leads to many misunderstandings regarding the right to food and related rights.

Good luck to HLPE with the further process!

Wenche Barth Eide, emerita
Public Health Nutrition Research Group
Department of Nutrition
University or Oslo, Norway
Formerly a member of the Project team for HLPE 4.

Selected UN references:

FAO (2004) Voluntary Guidelines to support the progressive realisation of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security. https://www.fao.org/publications/card/en/c/cceef08f-0627-5ec9-a8e2-63d7…

FAO (2009): Right to Food Methodological Toolbox. Tool 2 on Monitoring and evaluation, Vol 2. (in collaboration with some specialized NGOs and academic groups.) https://www.fao.org/right-to-food/resources/rtf-methodological-toolbox

FAO (2014) Handbook on Procedures for Human Rights Monitoring (FAO 2014) http://www.fao.org/3/i3452e/i3452e.pdf, https://www.fao.org/right-to-food/resources/rtf-handbooks

CFS-HLPE (2012) Report no 4 on Social Protection for Food Security, and the Annex to its electronic version, http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/hlpe/hlpe_documents/HLPE_Repor….

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1999) General Comment no 12 on the Right to adequate food, https://undocs.org/E/C.12/1999/5

Selected recent publications/briefs from FAO Legal Office/ Development Law Service:

FAO (2021) Transforming agri-food systems. Legislative interventions for improved nutrition and sustainability. Preliminary version for public consultation. https://www.fao.org/3/cb6016en/cb6016en.pdf

FAO (2019) FAO (2019) Right to adequate food in constitutions. Legal brief for parliamentarians in Africa No. 1 https://www.fao.org/publications/card/en/c/CA3518EN

FAO (2019) Framework laws on the right to adequate food. Legal brief for parliamentarians in Africa No. 2. https://www.fao.org/publications/card/en/c/CA3519EN

FAO (2020) Right to adequate food in constitutions. Legal brief for parliamentarians in Latin America and the Caribbean No. 1 https://www.fao.org/publications/card/en/c/CB0448EN

FAO (2020) Framework laws on the right to adequate food. Legal brief for parliamentarians in Latin America and the Caribbean No. 2 https://www.fao.org/publications/card/en/c/CB0447EN

Martin Wolpold-Bosien

CSM Secretariat

Dear colleagues at the FSN Forum and HLPE,

Kind greetings from the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism for relations with the CFS.

Please find enclosed the Contribution of the CSM Working Group on Data to the e-consultation on the Zero Draft of the HLPE Report on Data collection and analysis tools for food security and nutrition.

Best regards,

Martin Wolpold-Bosien
CSM Secretariat

Tim Kränzlein

Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN organisations in Rome

Dear Colleagues from the HLPE,

Switzerland would like to thank for the consultation on the V0 of the HLPE Report on “Data Collection and Analysis Tools for Food Security and Nutrition”.

Please find enclosed our feedback, structured based on the guiding questions.

We remain available for any follow-up on our feedback.

Kind regards,

Tim Kränzlein

Please find here below additional specific technical comments from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Thanks. 

  • Types of data included: The report offers a conceptual framework for food security and nutrition determinants and outcomes and a data cycle from conceptualization of data needs to data generation and use. From my perspective what is missing in these introductory frameworks is a holistic description of the types of data of interest. There is no discussion of the key types of data that are being considered in this report. These would include: dietary intake, anthropometry, micronutrient status, food security, food safety, cost of healthy diet, food loss and waste. A table of the types of data this report is considering, along with the level of data collection (individual, household, sub-national, national, etc.), and perhaps a few other variables, would be quite helpful in the introductory section. In addition, the report is inconsistent in its incorporation of agricultural data. Agricultural data is mentioned in some sections of the report (but not in the title), but it is not comprehensively treated, so it is not clear whether the intention is to include all types of agricultural data or just select elements.
  • Lack of prior data: Relevant to the point above, the discussion of constraints in research infrastructure on pp. 12-14 includes a very lengthy list of types of “prior data” that are missing or inadequate. This discussion reads a bit like a laundry list and includes types of data that extend from the Women’s Empowerment in Agricultural Index to agricultural land rights. This list of insufficient data from sectors adjacent to food security and nutrition is too sprawling, a bit disorganized, and is not actionable. Which are the key types of “adjacent” data that are necessary for food security and nutrition analysis and how can food security and nutrition data efforts improve the availability and use of such data?
  • Out-of-date assessments: In a few places the report seems to include information that does not reflect current conditions. Two examples: 1) Box 4 on the lack of data for nutrition assessments quotes the Malabo Montpellier Panel Report from 2017: “…there is no functioning global dietary database.” In fact, in the last few years FAO has created and is the host of a functioning global dietary database that is growing with additional data sets every month. 2) INFOODS is held up in a few places as a positive collaborative initiative success story, and while INFOODS has a wonderful vision and achieved important work in the past, it has had practically no funding for many years and has been stalled in many of its ambitions, despite its skilled and enthusiastic network of members.
  • Examples of use of food security and nutrition data for policy-making: The questions guiding the online consultation ask for specific examples of the use of food security and nutrition data to inform policies, and FAO has a relevant report, co-authored with Intake, that is pending approval with FAO and should be published soon: “Global Report on the State of Dietary Data.” The report includes numerous examples of specific countries using dietary data to inform health, nutrition, and food policies and programs (see section 2.3).

BILL AND MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION COMMENTS ON V0 DRAFT OF HLPE REPORT ON DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS TOOLS FOR FOOD SECURITY AND NUTRITION

With these comments, we would like to acknowledge the effort borne by the contributors to and the importance of the analysis in this zero-draft report.

We fully believe in the work of the HLPE of the CFS and in the importance of bringing greater attention to the need to understand what is happening in the agriculture sector. We’re pleased to have supported the Data Workstream in the Multi-Year Program of Work, alongside the governments of Uganda and the United States.

Major problems in the data space, such as (i) inadequate capacity of countries to produce, analyse, and use statistics; (ii) inadequate funding of statistics at the global, national, regional and local levels; (iii) the need for improved forecasting and other techniques to complement survey-based techniques; and (iv) transparency of, ownership of, and open accessibility to agricultural statistics, are yet to be solved if we are to achieve the ambitious goals we set in 2015 with the Agenda2030, and in particular the SDG 2 and its related indicators.

The opportunity offered by this HLPE report, therefore, is timely and significant. The CFS process is a means of engaging a diverse set of stakeholders on very significant questions: what do we know about the world’s agriculture, food and nutrition and how might we strengthen our understanding? The V0 draft surveys the field and delves into a construct for the answers, which we hope will be a point of emphasis in this process. The report itself and the process as a whole could be made more impactful if they delve into a rationale on how and why decision makers should tackle this issue as a means of addressing the increase in the number of hungry, the lack of adequate access to food security and nutrition and the burgeoning climate crisis. All of these issues require improved statistics to make evidence-based decisions. This report is a generational opportunity to address the why, how and what of agricultural statistics at a higher level.

The urgency, that we therefore have, is to make sure that agricultural statistics become a priority for leaders the world over. We suggest the report directly address:

  • Why we need improved agriculture, food and nutrition security statistics.
  • Quantify the scale of the challenges that we collectively face at the national and global levels.
  • Propose possible solutions and partnerships to address this – both current and unexplored.

Answers to these key questions will empower the CFS to assess and consider how its Member States and diverse stakeholders might collectively contribute. This would strengthen its impact, that of the HLPE and the workstream under which this work is being conducted.

We thank the CFS and the HLPE for this opportunity to contribute and would welcome an opportunity for our technical experts to provide further input, as appropriate.