CSOs Getting Connected with FAO
The International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC) is the alliance of civil society organizations cooperating with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO). The IPC secretariat in Rome coordinates and manages civil society’s relationships with the headquarters, but IPC also operates throughout every region, wherever FAO is present.
Civil society organizations (CSOs) in the Near East/North Africa (NENA) region of IPC cooperating with FAO have learnt through developments and experience since 2013 that greater organization is needed to ensure effective, continuous and representative CSO engagement with each other on shared priorities, as well as with FAO in the collaborative work already identified at FAO’s biennial Near East Regional Conference (NERC) and its preparatory CSO consultations with FAO.
As in each IPC region, a Steering Committee of networks representing IPC constituencies undertakes the preparation of each consultation with local organizations ahead of the NERC. According to precedent, that Steering Committee mechanism arises for the planning of the CSO consultation every two years, then dissolves in the interim.
In the case of the NENA region, however, participants and FAO officers have recognized the need for the cooperation to evolve beyond punctual consultations focused only on the upcoming NERC. They have set out a program of activities with FAO to strengthen CSO contributions to the range of regional initiatives, including agroecology. Thus, the NENA Steering Committee remains active throughout the interim, joined by four CSOs forming a Follow-up Committee elected at each biennial CSO consultation.
In order to take CSO/FAO cooperation to the next level, HIC-HLRN, currently serving as the IPC regional secretariat, has initiated a project to create and manage the infrastructure necessary for better collaboration. The first step is a project to develop an interactive database for IPC members and other CSOs relating to FAO’s NENA program.
This innovation will provide the necessary tools for all parties to post, access and share information that all collaborating partners need to have in order to work collectively and in complementary efforts to realize food security, food sovereignty and responsible food systems that implement the human right to food and nutrition for all.
Toward this end, HIC-HLRN has convened the IPC secretariat, Steering Committee, Follow-up Committee members and FAO’s regional policy advisor in a workshop in Tunis, on 28–29 June 2019, to design the database to fit the needs of all collaborating parties.
Building on its track record of digitalized monitoring, research and member-management tool development, HIC-HLRN already has developed a prototype of this IPC partnership information management system for review by the design workshop participants. Within the coming five months, the system will be vetted with all users. HIC-HLRN has committed to host and administer the final database for four years, subject to a user evaluation.
The IPC’s NENA regional database will optimize the potential of maintaining orderly information and ensure the widest-possible CSO inclusion and interaction, while pooling the region’s civil society assets and actors working on land administration, small-scale farming and vital food-and-nutrition-related issues. It also promises to facilitate FAO officers’ more-effective coordination and cooperation with FAO’s social partners in the region, as well as provide a model for other IPC regions.