The Right to Food

New CFS Voluntary Guidelines to leverage the right to food

News - 12.02.2021

12 February 2021, Rome-  Members of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) endorsed a new set of Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition (VGFSyN), aiming to eradicate all forms of hunger and malnutrition by utilizing a comprehensive food systems approach. The endorsement took place during the CFS 47th Session (8-11 February 2021).

“The guidelines and principals you have produced can support coherent solutions that are nature-based, protect the environment, address inequalities, promote the right to food, and drive climate action”, expressed the UN-Secretary”, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres expressed in a message delivered during the opening session. He underlined that “food security and nutrition are among the most pressing development, security and human rights issues of our time”.

These new Guidelines build upon and complement other policy tools adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the CFS, such as the Right to Food Guidelines in 2004, the Voluntary Guidelines on Tenure (VGGT) in 2012, the Small-Scale Fisheries Guidelines (COFI - SSF Guidelines) in 2014, the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture (CFS-RAI) in 2014 and the Framework for Action for Food Security and Nutrition in Protracted Crises (CFS-FFA) in 2015. These voluntary instruments all contribute to the progressive advancement of the right to food, consequently pursuing the enjoyment of other human rights. The VGFSyN also present a wide range of concrete recommendations, with special attention to the most vulnerable, which are now in the hands of governments and other stakeholders.

“These new Guidelines remind us of the important work that CFS has been carrying out since the turn of the millennium, as a unique global platform committed to a world free from hunger”, said Juan Carlos García y Cebolla, FAO Right to Food Team Leader. The VGFSyN are anchored in the Right to Food Guidelines, which were adopted seventeen years ago and prove more than ever their contemporary nature, as we found a number of elements of the Right to Food Guidelines included in the newly adopted tool, he explained.

Delegates also discussed how to increase the use, dissemination and uptake of CFS policy tools in convergence. CFS Chair and Permanent Representative of Thailand to the UN Agencies in Rome, Thanawat Tiensin, called for innovation to create “a sense of ownership” among stakeholders and make real impact at country and local level.

The Committee also agreed to initiate work to develop new Voluntary Guidelines on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment, as well as to continue negotiations of the Policy Recommendations on agroecological and other innovative approaches to be presented at a special Plenary Session next June (CFS 48).

Food systems in the spotlight

During the four-days long session, the High-Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) 2020 report “Building a Global narrative towards 2030” was presented and discussed.  Its first key message urges to prioritize the right and expands the understanding of food security and nutrition through the dimensions of agency and sustainability. This means that food should be available, accessible and utilizable, but also that individuals and groups are their own food agents and food sustainably sourced.

The report advocates for a radical transformation of food systems, for which empowering the most vulnerable and marginalized food systems actors is needed. Ensuring sustainable agricultural production methods such as agroecology, diversifying distribution networks, and viewing food security and nutrition in connection with other sectors are part of the solutions identified by the experts.

About the Committee on World Food Security

CFS is the foremost inclusive international, intergovernmental and multistakeholder platform on food security and nutrition.

The 47th session came against the background of a global health emergency that is putting at risk people’s right to adequate food all over the world and exacerbating inequalities.

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