Advocating for the Urban Food Insecure
The Coordinating Committee (CC) of the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSM) for relations with the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) welcomed a new facilitator for the Urban Food Insecure constituency in 2021: HIC affiliate Hala N. Barakat (Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights). Although her mandate started officially at the beginning of October, she began actively participating in the work of CSM in late spring, including attending a meeting of the CC as an observer on 16 June. Throughout the year Ms. Barakat took part in several CSM strategy meetings to discuss and debrief various activities and events.
Workstream on Women’s Rights
Ms. Barakat has taken the opportunity to participate in the CSM Women’s working group since May 2021, contributing to the CSM position for negotiation on the Voluntary Guidelines on Gender Equality and Women`s and Girls` Empowerment. As part of this workstream, she has also attended meetings with the Co-Chair of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on Gender Equality and Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment and the Permanent representative of Finland, Tanja Green, to discuss the zero draft.
CFS regional consultations on the Zero draft were held on October 27th and 28th for the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region. Ms. Barakat, along with a group of four other women from the NENA region, participated as part of the CSM. This included discussing the draft with representatives from NENA region states and preparing interventions that were expressed during the two days of consultation [day 1] [day 2]. In November, Ms. Barakat participated in a meeting with the new CFS Chair Gabriel Ferrero (Spain), where she was able to intervene with her concerns regarding the outcomes from the regional consultations.
Key points raised by CSM members in the consultation included:
- Neglect of basic human rights in the region, including constitutional iterations of the human right to food, make the adoption of the voluntary guidelines by the governmental bodies a remote possibility;
- Concerns about women in conflict, war, and occupation were raised by CSM members, who suggested the addition of a paragraph concerning women’s access to resources, land and food in countries under occupation;
- CSM members insisted on a special reference to the right to secure housing specifically in the urban context, as it is such a critical issue;
- In the rural/sub-urban context, mobility for women is crucial as lack of mobility leads to elimination of possibilities to access places of employment and basic services, including farms, markets and extension activities; they are faced with cultural barriers, violence and practical issues around mobility;
- Financial initiatives need to accommodate women’s actual needs and constraints, instead of trying to include women in pre-planned initiatives such as credit schemes, etc.;
- Recognition of the right to various livelihoods, and, particularly women among them, to access land and resources, especially those who live across boundaries such as nomads, Bedouins and fisherfolk;
- Food sovereignty is considered a prime asset for women, and it must be included whenever gender equality is sought, as it is closely linked to women’s activities and its adoption greatly supports them since they mostly small-scale food producers, keepers and users of local seeds and possess the wealth of indigenous knowledge related to food production, processing and preparation.
CSM on the UNFSS
Meanwhile, another important activity took place over the summer: the pre-summit to the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) pre-summit was organized by the CSM, which had already previously engaged in dialogue with the CFS to present its views. Parallel to this, a non-governmental mobilization which culminated with hundreds of grassroots, civil society and Indigenous Peoples` organizations opposing the UNFSS launched a global counter-mobilization against the UN Food Systems Pre-Summit from 25 to 28 July 2021 in Rome and online. Land Times/أحوال الأرض has previously reported on the controversy surrounding the UNFSS, which has been widely denounced by civil society.
A virtual CSM Forum was held on 6–7 October, where the CC members and a wide range of civil society actors globally joined to finalize CSM contributions, priorities and strategies for the CFS49 Plenary, which took place virtually between 11 and 14 October.
The UNFSS was a key point of debate during the plenary. The following statement is the CSM response to the CFS49 and UNFSS:
“The decision by the CFS to not respond effectively to one of the greatest crises of our times, to not play its coordination role in response to COVID-19, is scandalous. Governments, UN agencies, HLPE and CFS participants that supported the initiative for a globally coordinated policy response to the food security and nutrition impacts of COVID-19 voiced a global emergency in the CFS, and the CFS failed to respond due to the objection of a few, and the silence of many. The CSM has no words to adequately express our shock at this shameful inaction. Let us be very clear: those who blocked the initiative seem to be profoundly alienated from the disturbing realities and struggles of the disenfranchised people of this planet.
The CFS debate on the UN Food Systems Summit made it evident that the Summit generated a deep divide among Member States and other participants which will take concerted efforts and time to bridge and to rebuild trust. The non-negotiated outcomes from the UNFSS’ corporate-led multistakholderism approach that blurs the differentiated responsibilities between member states, intergovernmental organizations, rights holders, scientists and the corporate sector, failed the people most at risk of hunger and destitution, as well as many member states, especially from the Global South.
This is why CFS member states appeared significantly divided on how to tackle the UNFSS, with many voicing concerns on its modalities and implications. In any future discussion, the CFS needs to take into account the concerns raised by thousands of small-scale food.”
CSM’s key messages at the CFS 49th plenary can be found here.
CSM interventions made during the plenary sessions can be found here.
Image: Cover art from the recent CSM publication: Gender, COVID-19 and
Food Systems: Impacts, Community Responses and Feminist Policy Demands. Source: CSM.