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CFS 47: negotiations on the Voluntary Guidelines for Food Systems and Nutrition to start

  |   SUN UN Network

The SUN Movement call on all SUN Countries and Actors to engage in the upcoming negotiations on the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition (VGFSyN) which will start the 7th of September till the 11th of September online. The zero draft for the negotiations is available online in all six UN languages as well as additional paragraphs on the impact of pandemics on food systems and nutrition.

Due to COVID-19 pandemic the CFS has postponed the 47th CFS plenary in October to the 8th – 12th of February 2021 but the adoption of the Voluntary Guidelines is still one of the objectives of the meeting. In the meanwhile, an online High Level Special Event on Food Security and Nutrition will take place between 13th till 15th of October 2020 to keep the CFS’s discussions going.

The SUN Movement Secretariat encourages SUN Countries to engage in the negotiations through their national delegation and their Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in Rome because of the importance of these guidelines to shape the discussion of food systems in advance of the 2021 summit and the general importance of these guidelines for nutrition policies. Other members of the SUN Movement are invited to engage through their own stakeholder group.

What relevant issues might come up during the negotiations?

A variety of stakeholders, including SUN countries, have contributed to discussions in 2019 and in online sessions in May 2020. Many countries have initially been positive about the draft versions of the Voluntary Guidelines. The different consultations served to explore the level of agreement among countries and showed that there is still disagreement on a variety of issues. Earlier inputs, including from Costa Rica, Indonesia, the Philippines and the UN Network for SUN can be found here, where the CFS has also provided one major overview over all comments received.

The following issues are foreseen to come up during the negations which are considered relevant from the SUN Movement’s perspective.

  1. It is important to stress the need for policy coherence and a multi-sectoral approach in the guidelines
  2. The guidelines should adhere to a systemic approach which addresses policy fragmentation on food systems and nutrition
  3. Both institutional and behavioural change are needed to improve food systems to address malnutrition in all its forms and be sustainable
  4. The term “sustainable healthy diets” as developed by the FAO and WHO should be used in the guidelines
  5. Extensive measures to protect and facilitate exclusive breast feeding should be incorporated in the guidelines
  6. An equity perspective should be incorporated to make sure “no one is left behind”
  7. A chapter on food systems in a humanitarian context should be included to protect the most vulnerable populations

More detailed feedback can be found in the attached briefing for SUN focal points:

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What are the Voluntary Guidelines for Food Systems and Nutrition?

The Voluntary Guidelines for Food Systems and Nutrition have been a key objective of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) since the High-Level Panel of Expert report in 2017 on Nutrition and Food Systems. In 2018, the CFS collectively agreed to develop the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition.

The Voluntary Guidelines should become a key product for countries and stakeholders to prepare for  the Food Systems Summit 2021. Once adopted, all CFS stakeholders, including governments, specialized institutions and other stakeholders will shape policies and investments based on the guidelines to promote sustainable food systems to improve nutrition and enable healthy diets. In addition, the guidelines also address the currently existing policy fragmentation in food systems and nutrition.

Background on the CFS

The CFS is an inclusive intergovernmental platform for all stakeholders to work together in a coordinated way to ensure food security and nutrition for all. Member State governments, civil society organizations, private sector entities, farmer organizations, UN agencies, research institutions, philanthropic foundations and other stakeholder groups come together to debate, develop and endorse policy guidance on food security and nutrition issues which they commit to implementing in their countries.


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