Analysis of the most recent suggested text on food security

By Anna Odell, Clara de Iturbe and Lara Shirley

We have read the Zero Order Draft, the latest version of the amended text for food security, and the co-chair’s suggested text that followed it. Overall, we have found that the Co-Chairs’ suggested text is a combination of acutely incompatible and different opinions. While inevitable to a certain extent, in this case the views expressed differ to the extent of being contradictory, often immediately beside each other, thus rendering the text ineffective. This is our interpretation of what was kept, what was left out, what was never there in the first place – and whether those changes are for better or worse.

Negative Changes

  1. There is no mention of consumption or distribution in the original Zero Order Draft, and  although the G77 attempted to add it to the amended text, the co-chairs left it out of their text.

  2. Overall the suggested text is much more market-oriented than the Zero Order Draft.

  3. The Co-Chairs make no reference to specific principles such as polluter pays principle, common but differentiated responsibilities and the precautionary principle. The polluter pays principles was proposed in the amended text of the Zero Order Draft (suggested by New Zealand and bracketed by the United States) and the Co-Chairs did not include it.

  4. In the Co-Chairs’ suggested text there is no mention of food security in the context of poverty eradication, but rather as an “important element to achieve Green Economy.”

  5. The G77 proposed the Right to Development (and to proper nutrition) to the amended Zero Order Draft, however the Co-Chairs left it out of their suggested text.

  6. The Co-Chairs’ text avoided the use of the word equity, and only mentioned it in reference to facilitating smallholders’ access to regional and international markets.

  7. The Co-Chairs’ text has the FAO functioning only in the context of the Committee on Food Security and its Voluntary Guidelines.

  8. While in the amended text the G77 proposed the importance of  “eliminating trade distorting barriers” (which was bracketed by the United States), the Co-Chairs watered down the text by narrowing it down to “strongly discourage unilateral trade measures which exacerbate food price volatility.”

Positive Changes

  1. The Co-Chairs’ suggested text is a fairly well-organised document, especially when compared to the amended text. The ideas are in a logical order.

  2. While sustainable intensification was included in the original Zero Order Draft and suggested by several developed countries, there is no specific mention of sustainable intensification in the Co-Chairs’ suggested text.

  3. The Co-Chairs included an important sentence acknowledging the importance of promoting secure access to land and land tenure. Although it is important to note that the G77 had originally suggested an entire paragraph (which then both Canada and the United States attempted to delete) and the Co-Chairs only included a sentence.

  4. Sustainable livestock production (although only in reference to developing countries) was mentioned in the Co-chairs text that was not in the original Zero Order Draft or the amended text.

  5. The need for an ecosystems approach to fisheries management was recognized. It was originally suggested by Monaco in the Zero Order Draft and included in the Co-Chairs’ text.

  6. The need to address inequalities was recognized in the Co-Chairs’ text. In this context, they proposed more employment opportunities, access to food, and bridging disparities between urban and rural areas (although the nature of the disparities was not mentioned).

  7. Although a somewhat contested issue among developing countries, the Co-chairs text included language on the access to microcredits and microfinance, originally proposed by the G77.

  8. The reference to land-use planning and good governance in a context of climate change, originally bracketed by the US, was included in the Co-Chairs text.

  9. The Co-Chairs’ suggested text openly acknowledges that developing countries are more in need of support in terms of supporting agricultural and rural sectors (although it doesn’t specify who will support them, or how).

  10. Overall the language used is fairly explicit, relative to some of the suggested amended text in the Zero Order Draft.

  11. The Co-chairs used strong, emphatic language with regards to the stability of food prices.

Left Out

  1. The co-chairs’ suggested text has fairly weak language regarding specific actors or actions – there were very few suggestions in the amended text to begin with.

  2. The co-chairs’ suggested text only references the specific importance of local food systems once, after which it is immediately rendered redundant by referring to the ‘importance of local, national, regional and global markets’. The amended text had some mentions of specifically local food systems, but not many.

  3. Technology transfer was left out almost entirely in all of the documents. There was no mention of it in the original Zero Order Draft, and there was only reference to technology transfer in terms of marine technology in the the amended text. The only language on technology in general was ‘supporting initiatives that improve access to . . . technical knowledge’ and ‘the use of appropriate technologies’.

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