Committee on World Food Security focuses on food systems and nutrition
The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) wrapped up its 45th Session tasking itself with formulating Voluntary Guidelines for Food Systems and Nutrition for approval in 2020.
The guidelines are intended to be a reference document providing guidance to governments and other stakeholders on appropriate policies, investments and institutional arrangements needed to assure everyone has “available, affordable, acceptable and safe” diets in line with their beliefs and cultures.
CFS offers an inclusive platform that includes civil society and the private sector as well as governments an opportunity to voice views and develop policy recommendations and guidance on topics affecting food security and nutrition. Past outputs include landmark guidelines on land tenure and responsible investments in agriculture.
“Because of its inclusiveness, CFS is a powerful engine for combining political will and relevant knowledge towards zero hunger,” said Mario Arvelo, CFS Chair and Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations’ Rome-based food and agriculture agencies. “Building on the success of this session, we are all expected to renew our commitment as the range of participants expands to all potential partners, because eradicating hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 can only be possible if everyone is on board.”
Nutrition is a growing concern as the number of obese people in the world is rapidly catching up with the number of hungry. There are 672 million obese and 821 million hungry or malnourished people in the world, according to FAO’s latest SOFI assessment.
Earlier this week, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva urged CFS to “step up” with strong guidance, emphasizing that “overweight and obesity must be a subject of public policies, not a private issue.”
The guidelines take shape
Malnutrition has many forms – including micronutrient deficiencies – and affects one in three people today, a figure that may rise to one in two by 2030 if nothing is done. Evidence increasingly suggests that economic growth alone will not fix the problem – which impacts rich and poor countries and households alike – and that new policies are needed.
The CFS guidelines will seek to help governments “operationalize” the recommendations agreed at those fora. They expressly aim to “address the key causes of vulnerability to all forms of malnutrition in different types of food systems in both rural and urban areas, with special attention to the poorest and most nutritionally vulnerable people.
While global in scope, they aim to offer actionable advice for all the world’s food systems, which include traditional systems where processed foods are rare to advanced ones where they can crowd out healthier alternatives. They will address areas ranging from supply chains to consumer behavior, and recommend ways to boost nutrition literacy and implement effective food-packaging labels.
@SUN_Movement Coord. @GerdaVerburg meeting w/ #CFS45 Private Sector Mechanism: “Voluntary Guidelines on #FoodSystems & #Nutrition is a crucial topic, but it won’t be easy. It will take all stakeholders 2 develop guidelines that can support at country level” @SUNBizNet pic.twitter.com/YgE1mufRCe
— Scaling Up Nutrition (@SUN_Movement) October 15, 2018
UN Network and UNSCN side event at CFS 45
As part of the 45th session of the Committee on World Food Security’s (CFS) in Rome, the UN Network Secretariat teamed up with the United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN) to co-organize a side event on Bringing Policies to Life.
The event brought together diverse insights from representatives of government, the research community and civil society. It portrayed the many ways in which nutrition policies are transformed from policy to action at the country level to ensure long–standing nutrition results. Ms. Cornelia Richter, Vice President of IFAD and UNSCN Chair, framed the discussion by underscoring the magnitude of the double burden of malnutrition, recent disconcerting trends and thus the need for effective action. Moderation support was provided by Dr. Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, who seamlessly facilitated interaction between the panellists.
Participants walked away from the event with a greater understanding of the role of coherence at all levels, building political momentum, strengthening institutions, maintaining peace and security, and supporting a spirit of inspiration for change. Efforts to enhance the enabling environment for nutrition – including the SUN Movement where present – were also recognized as being integral to undertaking effective nutrition action.
Other CFS themes
The week-long CFS 45 hosted more than 50 side events where debates were held on many subjects ranging from urbanization, to climate change, tenure and livestock and a major new publication on World Livestock was launched.
A global thematic event, opened by Mr. Arvelo, was held to review on-the-ground experiences related to the Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security, which marked the first attempt by UN Member States to commit to integrating human rights into food and agriculture issues.