Rome -- Civil society plays a crucial role helping building consensus, giving a voice to the hungry, representing society’s diversity and being a part of international decision-making processes, FAO Director-General told civil society representatives today at the Organization’s headquarters, where they began the annual forum of the International Civil Society Mechanism, a vehicle for non-state actors to participate in policy making.
“Reaching consensus is important because it will make us move faster and because we need results in the short term,” Graziano da Silva said in his welcoming remarks. “We offer FAO as a neutral forum to help building it,” he added.
During the next two days, over 200 representatives of non-governmental organizations and other associations will assess the last five years of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) since its reform in 2009 and work to find consensus on key issues to be discussed in next week’s plenary meeting of the Committee.
Contribution to CFS outcomes
Da Silva highlighted how civil society has facilitated engagement and contributed to the development of some of the most successful CFS outcomes, such as the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT) - an unprecedented international agreement on tenure governance-.
They have also participated in the negotiations over draft Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems - to ensure that the rights and livelihoods of local communities are protected and the degradation of natural resources is avoided.
“You were part of the 4 000 people involved in the consultation process that enabled the FAO Committee on Fisheries to approve the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries,” FAO Director-General told the representatives.
“You have helped introducing important ideas such as Food Sovereignty or Agro-Ecology in the international agenda,” he added.
The purpose of the CSM is to facilitate civil society participation in agriculture, food security and nutrition policy development at national, regional and global levels.
“The CSM is an incredible success,” said Gerda Verbug, Chair for the UN Commtittee on World Food Security (CFS). “I believe in a multi-stake holder approach where all concerned parties are around the table to find the best opportunities.”
Graziano da Silva stressed that civil society will also play an important role in the upcoming Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), to be held in Rome in November through the Civil Society Organizations Pre-Conference, scheduled days before the main conference starts.
Today’s meeting marks the third year in which the Civil Society Mechanism holds its annual forum at FAO headquarters. The aim of this weekend’s discussions is to bring a clear and unified voice of civil society to the week-long CFS.
Topics of discussion for this year’s meeting of the Civil Society Mechanism include action on protracted crisis, food losses and waste, fisheries and aquaculture, review of the 10 Years of the adoption of the Right to Food Guidelines, discussions on the Post-2015 Framework and progress of the International Year of Family Farming.
The CFS meets annually to take stock of progress on reducing food insecurity in the world, and to map out key policy objectives over the course of the year. The CFS reports to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC).