Addressing structural issues behind poverty, hunger malnutrition remain absent
Posted on 11 October 2013
IBON International Update #2 - On CFS
October 11, 2013
Committee on World Food Security 40th Session
FAO Headquarters, Rome, October 10—Four years after the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) reform process started in 2008, it remains to be seen whether it has learned its lessons well. At the annual CFS 40th session being held this week, discussions on responsible agricultural investments, biofuels, and the post-2015 development agenda are among the key issues taking center stage.
Mobilizing agricultural investments as a means to address hunger and malnutrition is being taken up from two divergent standpoints, even as both seem to agree to place the interests of small-scale food producers at the core of the discussions. On one hand, a strong private sector pitch continues to push for increased agricultural productivity through private investments, which often runs against interests of small communities. On the other hand, grassroots organisations call for food sovereignty and stronger domestic food systems, and work for investments that align to these goals.
CSOs point to the need for definite mechanisms that will put an end to land and other resource grabs, which are missing in the current draft. The voluntary nature of exercising “investor responsibility” in agriculture likewise makes its enforcement optional for governments. The call for “responsible” agricultural investments itself denotes the proliferation of irresponsible investments that facilitated plunder of resources especially in the global South.
With one year to go before the CFS adopts final guidelines in its next session, it has become more important than ever to ensure that these consultations are genuinely inclusive of all stakeholders, especially grassroots groups and social movements.
On the other hand, CSOs are calling for small food producers’ access to and control of land and other resources as well as for the promotion of sustainable agroecological models of production, in reaction to the High Level of Panel Experts reports on “Investing on Smallholder Agriculture and Nutrition”.
Discussions on biofuels continue to heat up as governments led by Canada and the US continue rejecting any reference to adopting a human-rights based framework on biofuels. CSOs have taken a strong critical stance against biofuels, identifying it as among the factors for increased global land grabs and spikes in food prices.
CSOs cite various research studies, which indicate that biofuel production has intensified land grabs. According to an ActionAid study, six million hectares of land in Sub-Saharan Africa are now controlled by European companies producing or planning to produce biofuel feedstock. A GRAIN study says that between 2002 and 2012, there have been 293 cases of land grabs worldwide covering over 17 million hectares for the production of biofuel feedstock. Biofuel policies have dismally failed in their supposed intent of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. On the contrary, as CSOs point out, these have contributed to greater GHG emissions through land use change and reliance on an energy-intensive industrial agricultural production model.
Among the CSO calls for governments are the following:
i) To eliminate direct and