On Monday, 11 October, CFS Chair Thanawat Tiensin (Thailand) opened the 49th plenary session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS 49). Discussions on the first day focused on the “State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021” (SOFI) report, its policy implications and the role of CFS in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In opening remarks, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres said food systems can and must be critical engines for economic recovery, poverty eradication, decent work, and addressing climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss. He noted that CFS policy products are key in this process as they have put critical issues from land tenure, to responsible agricultural investment, to emergency nutrition response and famine prevention front-and-center.
Collen V Kelapile, President, UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), said building back better from COVID-19 will be an opportunity to look at Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 (zero hunger) and integrated food systems, which are relevant to all SDGs and the continuing impacts of COVID-19. He noted there is much to learn from the CFS approach of ensuring science- and evidence-based and inclusive dialogue among all key stakeholder groups impacted by food systems.
CFS Chair Tiensin and CFS-HLPE Chair Martin Cole both stressed the need for a fundamental systemic change to address hunger, malnutrition, sustainability, and inequalities while supporting human rights for all. Chair Tiensin further called for developing global policies to transform food systems and promoting their uptake at the local and country levels.
In a keynote address, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Professor, Columbia University, and Director, Center for Sustainable Development, said achieving zero hunger by 2030 requires a financial strategy that includes a timeline and specific policies for short-term emergency and long-term cash transfers. He specifically proposed a 2% wealth tax on billionaires as part of this financial strategy.
Delegates discussed the 2021 SOFI report, with many highlighting national actions to eradicate poverty and food insecurity. They called for, inter alia: improved data and early warning systems for risks to food security; rules-based international trade solutions appropriate to national needs and priorities; local production and consumption of indigenous foods; support for small-scale producers and women’s empowerment; ending unilateral coercive measures that jeopardize health and nutrition; and global coordination across sectors to address the effects of the pandemic on food security.
In the afternoon session, Chair Tiensin opened discussion on the draft conclusions on the SOFI Report session. Committee members debated text on accelerating the transition to sustainable and resilient food systems, the role of the Food Systems Summit in bolstering efforts to end food insecurity, the six pathways proposed in the SOFI to make food systems more resilient and sustainable, the human right to lead healthy lives, multilateral coordination, and dependence on national contexts and capacities.
Members also discussed at length a proposal by Cuba to include, in the draft conclusions, reference to countries’ comments about “unilateral measures contrary to international law” as well as actions taken to address the COVID-19 pandemic that undermine food security in a number of countries. Several supported including the text, noting that such measures have a negative impact on food security and poverty eradication, while others objected, stating that it is a political issue that is outside CFS’s mandate. Discussion of the proposed text will continue on Tuesday.
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