The Right to Food

Committee on World Food Security: Put people at the center of agri-food systems transformation

News - 04.11.2021

4 November 2021, Rome- Fostering human rights in food systems is needed to get back on track towards the eradication of hunger and malnutrition, the 49th session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) heard.

The right to food for millions is under stake. In 2020, up to 811 million people in the world went to bed hungry, 2.4 billion people lacked year-round access to adequate food and more than 3 billion people could not afford a healthy diet. The situation has been worsening by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keynote speakers at CFS 49, gathered from 11 to 14 October, proposed solutions to reverse this trend.

In opening remarks, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, praised CFS policy for having placed urgent issues “front-and-center”, from land tenure, to responsible agricultural investment, to emergency nutrition response and famine prevention.

CFS Chair Thanawat Tiensin called for a systemic change to eradicate hunger, malnutrition, sustainability and inequalities while protecting human rights for all.

Máximo Torero, FAO Chief Economist, urged to support the main “transformative pathways” of agri-food systems. Among them, the affordability of nutritious food, poverty elimination, reduction of inequality and changes in consumer behaviour. 

The Plenary also looked at the role of CFS in the follow-up to the Summit. In her address, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed underlined that several multi-stakeholder initiatives and commitments drew on CFS products. “Voluntary guidelines helped shaped and inform many of the national dialogues and workstreams”, she added.

Participants like Germany, the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples' Mechanism (CSM), Spain and Mexico and others, acknowledged the importance of policies that take account the interlinkages on different issues -such as climate change, health or water-to ensure people´s access to adequate food.

The session concluded with the election of Gabriel Ferrero, Ambassador at Large for Global Food Security of Spain, as new Chairperson of the CFS. His leadership priorities include to broaden participation and improve inclusion, engaging with stakeholders like parliamentarians, local authorities and universities. Ferrero´s career has been dedicated to sustainable development and food security, particularly to the right to food and gender equality, both at the Government of Spain and at the Executive office of the UN Secretary-General.

Advancing human rights and law

Framework laws can bring change to agri-food systems. A good framework law will provide guidance to integrate different sectors in the decision-making, facilitate conversation and orientate stakeholders.

This was the message convened by Juan Carlos García y Cebolla, FAO Right to Food Team Leader, at the side-event on human rights, nutrition and law.

“A framework law can be the basis for a holistic approach to development”, he said. Based on his experience in Latin America and the Caribbean, a framework law can connect food security with other areas and make the fight against hunger a political priority. But he warned on the risk of “trying to fix everything”. For the success of a framework law, he recommended to take into “use the windows of opportunities and read the context of each country to make those linkages”.

Joining at the same side-event, Margret Vidar, FAO Legal Officer, pointed out that regulations and binding laws are crucial for stakeholders seeking to become more sustainable, specially companies. “Otherwise, they will be undermined and outcompeted by those who do not care much about sustainability”, she explained. “They need the level playing field”, she concluded.

Also speaking was Allan Maleche, Executive Director of the NGO KELIN from Kenya. Referring to the interdependence of human rights, he explained that making the connection between the right to food and other rights such as health, health and information is crucial to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

About CFS

The CFS is the leading body in the United Nations System to review and follow-up policies on food security and nutrition for the progressive realization of the right to adequate food for all. After undergoing a reform in 2009, CFS became the most inclusive and intergovernmental platform for all stakeholders to work together on this area.

The 49th session of the CFS Plenary was held shortly after the United Nations Food Systems Summit. It addressed the 2021 State of Food Security and Nutrition report, uptake of the CFS Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition, and CFS priorities. In line with the CFS Multi-Year Programme of Work 2021-2024, the Committee focuses on youth, gender equality, data, and inequalities.


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