by Clara Mareschal & Khristian Méndez //
We are at work.
Civil Society Organizations from around the world are gathered once more at the FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy, to prepare in advance their coordinated visions on the political architecture needed to guarantee food security and nutrition for all. This is the 5th Annual Civil Society Forum of the International Civil Society Mechanism for Food Security and Nutrition (CSM).
There is a wide range of flavors on the table: Food Losses and Waste (FLW), Fisheries and Aquaculture, the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF), responsible agricultural investment (rai), the 10 Year Review of the Right to Food Guidelines (RtF), and the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
We inaugurated the morning with a commemoration. It was for Chandrika Sharma, a former member of the CSM who fought for the rights of fisherfolk. She was in the Malaysian flight that disappeared earlier this summer, and her colleagues paid respects with words and silence.
We then heard from Gerda Verburg, the new Chair of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and from José Graziano da Silva, Director General of FAO. Both of these speeches illustrated key aspects of the CSM. It has been making valuable and meaningful contributions to the CFS process. However, this has not been easy, due to the diversity of actors within civil society and the need to reach consensus and unified positions. Verburg and Da Silva made impressions on the floor, both positive and negative. While they were praising the work and the strength of the negotiators for Civil Society, they also came across as a little patronizing or politically flattering to the CSOs.
After the opening remarks, and a caffeine-and-sugar break, only CSM members reconvened at the Green Room. The subsequent sessions contained remarks by CSM members on a range of topics. First, the work that the CSM has done so far since the CFS Reform in 2009 and its creation, but also on the way forward, and the ways to fix current gaps. The room was teeming with energy and passion from the speakers. As much as this is a political forum and there is a lot of talking, we are hearing the voices of activists, leaders of social movements and NGOs who come from the frontline –or their interpretations in Spanish, French, Portuguese, and English.
We then split for lunch, and 4 working groups met in little corners of the FAO labyrinth-esque building. The open-working groups spent the afternoon preparing their comments on the Decision Boxes* in advance of the CFS Plenary were they will voice these positions for member states to hear.
The CSO Annual Forum usually takes place the weekend before the CFS plenary. This year, however, we are sharing the building with a Working Group for the upcoming International Conference on Nutrition. This is topic that is gaining a lot of political momentum, and which is relevant to the CFS (after all, they do talk about food security and nutrition) but which is running parallel (and disconnectedly) to both the CSM and the CFS.
Tomorrow, the CSM will meet again to finalize positions and prepare for the long –and intense– week ahead. And we will be there to contribute, blog and share with you as things develop. Stay tuned!