Strengthening Southern Voices
In October 2019, Civic Engagement Alliance participated in the annual conference of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in Rome with the directors of a land rights NGO from Bangladesh and a faith-based organization from Uganda and two representatives of Civic Engagement Alliance in the Netherlands.
Civic Engagement Alliance wants to strengthen the southern voice in this intergovernmental body that plays an important role in shaping global level food security and agricultural policies. This was especially relevant in 2019, as the main topics of the conference in that year were closely linked to the Civic Engagement Alliance agenda: food systems & nutrition, and agroecological approaches to sustainable agriculture and food systems.
CFS, founded in 1974, strives to be the most inclusive international and intergovernmental platform for all stakeholders, governments, civil society and the private sector, to work together in a coordinated way to ensure food security and nutrition for all. In 2010, the Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) was formed in which several hundreds of civil society organizations and social movements from all over the world have participated, belonging to one of the following constituencies: smallholder farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples, workers, landless, women, youth, consumers and NGOs. The existence of a strong and highly inclusive civil society mechanism and the evidence-based approach to policy-making make the CFS conference a relevant platform for Civic Engagement Alliance.
During CFS, the Civic Engagement Alliance participants first participated in the CSM forum that took place in the two days before the start of the official CFS conference, and then attended plenary sessions and side-events during the first few days of CFS. We had informal conversations with the official delegations from Uganda, Bangladesh and The Netherlands to the conference. During these conversations we subscribed to the recommendations of the high level panel of experts to promote agroecological and other innovative approaches for sustainable agriculture and local food systems and suggested how to incorporate these in our countries’ policies. In addition we shared our concerns about the lack of civil society participation in the preparation of the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit (2021) and the perceived limited role of CFS in the summit vis-a-vis other UN agencies and private sector platforms. We will follow-up on these conversations with policy-makers in our respective countries and within the ACT EU working group on food security.