The Right to Food

CFS 51: Advancing the Right to Food and human rights-based approaches for global food security

News - 19.04.2024

Rome – The 51st session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS 51) met from October 23-27, 2023, focusing on 'Making a Difference in Food Security and Nutrition.' The session marked a significant milestone in advancing the Right to Food agenda, as underscored by the FAO Director-General QU Dongyu in his opening statement: “I am pleased to see that the Committee’s new workplan lays out a promising agenda that puts the Right to Food at the center of efforts to transform agrifood systems”. QU expressed his satisfaction with the alignment between CFS's work plan and the progressive realization of the Right to Food.

The CFS 51 featured a Plenary session where FAO's Chief Economist, Máximo Torero Cullen, presented key findings from the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2023 report. Central to the discussions was the recognition of the Right to Food as a fundamental framework guiding the Committee's activities. The endorsement of key documents, such as the Voluntary Guidelines on Gender Equality and Women's and Girls' Empowerment and the Policy Recommendations on Strengthening Food Security and Nutrition Data Collection and Analysis Tools, highlights CFS members’ commitment towards promoting gender equality, data-driven policies, and sustainable food systems.

The conclusion of CFS 51 saw the election of new Bureau members and the end of Ambassador Gabriel Ferrero of Spain's tenure as Chair. Ambassador Nosipho Jezile of South Africa was appointed as the new Chair. With the endorsement of the Multi-Year Programme of Work (MYPoW) 2024-2027, the Committee reaffirmed its commitment to driving positive change and fostering international cooperation to achieve food security and the progressive realization of the Right to Food.

Right to Food events at CFS 51

On October 27th, a significant spotlight was placed on food security, human rights, and climate action through two major events.

The Special Event on the Right to Food aimed to foster dialogue among stakeholders, emphasizing the continued relevance of the Right to Food Guidelines to the evolving global food security and nutrition landscape. During the session, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif remarked that “food is not merely sustenance [but] a symbol of our shared humanity, a cornerstone of our dignity, a manifestation of cultural heritage, a testament to our commitment to justice, and a reflection of our common values.” In turn, UN Special Rapporteur Michael Fakhri remarked on the central role the Right to Food has within FAO’s mandate. Recalling that “the Right to Food is at the heart of FAO’s Constitution”, he emphasized that “without the Right to Food, we wouldn’t have the FAO we have today.” Representatives from Brazil, India, Germany, Switzerland and the CFS Civil Society and Indigenous People’s Mechanism and the Private Sector Mechanism further stressed the Guidelines' role in fostering food security, better nutrition and livelihoods, and greater equity for all.

That same day, FAO co-organized a side event together with IDLO, the Office of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, and the governments of Germany and Switzerland. The session provided a platform to explore the critical nexus between human rights, climate action, and food security, drawing on examples from grassroots projects in Kenya and Peru. Highlighting alarming findings from the latest Secretary General Report on climate change and the right to food, Chafik Ben Rouin from OHCHR stressed that “industrial food systems are significant greenhouse gas emitters which contribute to climate change in a vicious cycle that can only be ended through a transition to sustainable food systems.”  He called for “a transition to sustainable food systems, including holistic and integrated approaches such as agroecology, as an essential approach to simultaneously adapting to climate change and fulfilling the right to food.” 

For her part, Sofía Monsalve, Secretary General of FIAN International, presented their work with communities in southern Honduras that are losing their traditional livelihoods and even their homes because of rising sea levels. Monsalve emphasized the need “to integrate the perspective of the Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other people working in rural areas, in climate policies, in loss and damage policies, and also in migration and resettlement policies.”

For more information:

Human rights-based approaches to global challenges and climate action - Side event recording

Voluntary Guidelines on Gender Equality and Women's and Girls' Empowerment

Policy Recommendations on Strengthening Food Security and Nutrition Data Collection and Analysis Tools

Multi-Year Programme of WorK (MYPoW) 2024-2027


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