The Right to Food

50th Session of the Committee on World Food Security features human rights as core solutions to the crisis

News - 27.10.2022

Rome- This year’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS 50) confirmed the increased commitment of Member States and other stakeholders in putting human rights at the heart of decision-making to address the multiple challenges to sustainable agrifood systems.

In his opening remarks, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) QU Dongyu stressed the opportunity offered by CFS 50 in building solidarity and to look at basic human rights.

The Plenary was kicked off by introducing the 2022 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report and its alarming results. Maximo Torero, FAO Chief Economist, illustrated how conflict and war, economic slowdowns and downturns aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and climate variability and extremes, are key drivers behind the world food and nutrition insecurity.

High level political leadership to get ahead of the immense interconnected challenges of food, energy and finance is crucial, expressed by David Nabarro, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda and co-lead of the food workstream to the UN Global Crisis Response Group. In his concluding remarks, Nabarro called for action for the poorest and most vulnerable, as “we are moving into the most extreme crisis that any of us have experienced in our lifetime: a cost-of-living crisis that will increase poverty and all that goes with it”.

Amid the context of globalized crisis and worsening of food insecurity, many Member States promoted the right to adequate food, and stressed the need to support the implementation of the CFS policy tools, including the Right to Food Guidelines. They urged to eliminate vulnerabilities and to prioritize the poorest, ensuring that no one is left behind.

“Human rights is the language of coherent and systemic action. It’s not just a set of policy choices”,  said Michael Fakhri, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food in the opening session. Fakhri met with FAO Director-General QU Dongyu during CFS 50 to discuss ways to promote and support Members to fulfil their obligations towards the progressive realization of everyone´s right to adequate food.

Over the four days, the Plenary looked at several issues affecting food security and nutrition building on country experiences. In Germany, nutrition education through school feeding programmes help improve eating habits of the children and their families; across Latin America and the Caribbean, the front-of-pack labelling allows consumers to correctly identify the amount of nutrients in products and promote healthy diets; and Thailand is shifting to have healthy diets for all by enhancing stronger intersectoral coordination and the collaboration of civil society, as well as tackling inequalities and expanding social protection to reach everyone. Other countries that echoed pledges for food systems to be anchored in human rights included Brazil, Dominican Republic, Germany, Kuwait (on behalf of the G77+China), Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Philippines, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and United Kingdom.

During the CFS Secretariat’s follow-up Special Event on the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit , Gerda Verburg, SUN Movement Coordinator, underlined that the Summit is embedded in human rights. She also recalled the importance of ensuring that the Food Systems Coordination Hub and the National Pathways are ingrained in the right to adequate food. “It needs to be emphasized time and again, and never taken for granted”, she remarked.

CFS revitalized its strategic direction to accelerate action on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) based on a recent report released by its High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition. This publication reinforces the centrality of human rights, and the need of protecting the right to food in conflict situation, as well as linking the right to food with labour rights.

The CFS commemorated the 2022 International Day of Rural Women and reiterated its support for an inclusive and consensus-based process to achieve agreement on the  Voluntary Guidelines on Gender Equality and Women’s and Girls Empowerment in the Context of Food Security and Nutrition for presentation to the CFS 51 Plenary. “Improving gender equality by empowering women and girls is a fundamental determinant to achieve food security and nutrition”, pointed out Benjamin Davis, Director of the Inclusive Rural Transformation and Gender Equality Division at FAO. “Expanding opportunities for women and girls is a human rights obligation, enabling them to realize the right to food”, he added.

The Committee endorsed the CFS Policy Recommendations on Promoting Youth Engagement and Employment in Agriculture and Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition. “In a moment of global crisis, solutions will come from young people”, said Gabriel Ferrero, CFS Chair.

CFS 50 also highlighted the importance boosting financing for sustainable development and access to resources for actions and efforts to achieve SDG 2 by 2030.

The Global Thematic Event on the CFS Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (CFS-RAI) addressed the critical importance of driving additional finance toward sustainable food systems and the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security. CFS 50 side events also discussed the need to improve private sector’s contribution in the fight against hunger, including through the new Philanthropic Foundations Mechanism.

About the Committee on World Food Security

Hosted by FAO, 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 field. Its work is facilitated by the HighLevel Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition, which produces independent and evidence-based analysis for policy-making.

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