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Negotiations at the UN Committee on World Food Security on Agroecology and Nutrition

The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) culminates its work every year during its annual session in October at the FAO. However, CFS stakeholders are hard at work in Rome all year through working groups focused around issues on nutrition, agroecology, finance, and youth.

During the week of January 27th, there were two Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) meetings on agroecology and on nutrition, respectively. These meetings act as a way for member states and other stakeholders to openly discuss documents related to the workstreams such as reports and guidelines.

Emerging ag acts as the Secretariat for the International Agri-Food Network (IAFN), which is the elected focal point for the Private Sector Mechanism (PSM). In this capacity, the PSM had a small delegation in Rome to act as a voice during these negotiations.

During both meetings members of the PSM were able to contribute the business perspective regarding the Policy Recommendations on Agroecological and other Innovative Approaches and the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition. These comments are then taken by the chair of the given workstream and will be worked into a new draft which would again be discussed.

The CFS open meeting on Agroecological and Other Innovative Approaches set the stage for the preparation of the Zero Draft CFS Policy Recommendations on Agroecological and other Innovative approaches. This was the only opportunity for face-to-face multi-stakeholder dialogue ahead of the formal negotiations to be held on May 26-28, after which policy recommendations will be presented in October.

The Open-Ended Working Group on Nutrition provided the first opportunity to discuss Draft 1 of the Guidelines and some Member States shared their views. The key points shared by the PSM included; general support for the references to Private Sector, highlighting the lack of evidence and scientific basis for some recommendations and concepts included, the need for greater focus on food loss and waste and food safety, and coherence with international agreements and policies. 

This process is based on the principle of consensus, whereby all 193 member states, Rome-based agencies, and all stakeholders finally agree on the final versions of these documents.

As Private Sector engagement continues to grow within the context of the UN Committee on World Food Security, it creates opportunities for the voices of farmers, businesses, and individuals through the agrifood value chain to be heard on a high-level platform and make sure that what is decided by this body works for these stakeholders. 

For more information on the work of the Private Sector Mechanism please visit www.agrifood.net. 

Ashleigh Schoonderbeek
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