The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) continued discussions during the second day of its 49th plenary session (CFS 49), focusing on: the uptake of the CFS Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition and follow-up to the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2); the UN Food Systems Summit and its implications for CFS; and the CFS Multi-Year Programme of Work (MYPoW) 2020-2023, including updates on the Rolling Section and on development of voluntary guidelines on gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment in the context of food security and nutrition. Members also continued discussions of the draft conclusions on the SOFI report that was pending from the previous day.
In February 2021, the CFS endorsed the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition, and the Forum on the Uptake of the Guidelines aimed to take stock of the implementation of the Guidelines so far. Marylaure Crettaz Corredor, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, presented a Swiss proposal to promote uptake of the Guidelines through subnational stakeholders to improve nutrition and reduce poverty, citing a project in six cities in Bangladesh, Rwanda, and Kenya. She stressed the importance of using the Guidelines at national and regional levels. Mariam Almheiri, Minister of State for Food and Water Security, United Arab Emirates (UAE), noted governments are responsible for driving new consumer behavior and healthy, sustainable eating patterns. She said the Guidelines are part of the UAE’s strategy for this.
Maximo Torero Cullen, Chief Economist, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), launched the FAO Evidence Platform for Agri-food Systems and Nutrition, giving countries an “evidence toolbox” to monitor uptake of the recommendations of the Guidelines. He said the platform will be continuously updated with new evidence and documents from evidence-informed, normative, and operational sources, including peer-reviewed systematic reviews and meta-analyses.
Martien van Nieuwkoop, Global Director, Agriculture and Food, World Bank Group, said the CFS’s strength is its well-grounded scientific evidence from the CFS High-Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) and its broad multi-stakeholder consultations. He said taking sufficient action on food system transformation will cost USD 10 trillion annually, but inaction already costs USD 12 trillion annually. He said the World Bank has started measuring its investments against the Guidelines to ensure the transformation towards sustainable food systems.
Members then discussed the Guidelines, with most welcoming them and urging countries to implement them through concrete actions to help transform their food systems. A few countries stated they have commenced implementation of the Guidelines and its recommendations, which were finalized in early 2021, and were identifying policies and strategies to align with the Guidelines.
On the UN Food Systems Summit and its implications for the work of CFS, discussions focused on the potential role of the CFS in the follow-up to the Summit. In a video message, Amina J. Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General, said business-as-usual is no longer an option after governments and other actors made bold commitments to transform their food systems at the Summit. She underlined that the CFS remains an essential platform to encourage food security and nutrition through its knowledge and policy tools.
On the role of the CFS in the Summit follow-up, there were three main points of view held by Members. Some Members suggested that the CFS, together with the HLPE, should play a key or leadership role in the follow-up, in conjunction with the Rome-Based Agencies: the FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Food Programme (WFP). Others called for the CFS to continue focusing on its role as a multi-stakeholder platform, with the RBAs leading the follow-up to the Summit. These Members said the CFS taking a lead role would dilute its mandate and overload its already busy MYPoW, also citing lack of funds. A third category opposed the CFS participating in any form of follow-up, with some questioning the process and content of the Summit, stating it overlooked developing countries’ needs and was overly influenced by developed countries and philanthropies. In the conclusions to this agenda item, the CFS took note of the potential implications of the Food Systems Summit on the CFS and HLPE, and looked forward to further analysis and consideration of next steps by the CFS Bureau, in consultation with all Members, the Advisory Group and other participants.
Members considered an update on progress in developing CFS voluntary guidelines on gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment in the context of food security and nutrition. The Secretariat reported on regional consultations for producing the first draft of the guidelines, with the aim of adopting them at CFS50. There was general support.
Members also returned to discussions on the draft conclusions on the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2021 Report session, specifically a proposal to include text on “unilateral measures contrary to international law.” After several hours’ discussion, Members made progress toward consensus on text reflecting some elements of the discussion and disbanded to consult their capitals on unresolved language. A “Friends of the Chair” meeting will take place on Wednesday morning ahead of the main discussions of the day, with the aim of finalizing the remaining text.
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