Written by Administrator Wednesday, 23 May 2012 16:31
Last March and April 2012, the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) participated in the pre-Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) civil societyconsultation meetings of both FAO Asia-Pacific and Africa Conferences as part of the civil society organization (CSO) delegation. The twin conferences which mainly reported on FAO’s programs and plans, provided PCFS the opportunity to share positions on major issues affecting small-scale food holders and other vulnerable populations, and forward food sovereignty as a framework and advocacy platform. PCFS participation in the Africa Conference marked the coalition’s first attendance to the said regional conference. The twin conferences were held in Hanoi, Vietnam and Brazzaville, Congo respectively.
CSO Consultation and Asia-Pacific Regional Conference
March 10-11 and March 12-16
A total of 130 civil society organisations held a two-day consultation meeting that discussed various issues confronting small-scale farmers, fisherfolk, women, indigenous peoples and other sectors belonging to marginalized groups. The issues centered on land grabbing, food price volatility, the upcoming Rio+20 summit as well as the key discussions on the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) on the Global Strategic Framework and the Voluntary Guidelines on Land Tenure, and CFS processes.
A CSO unity statement was presented to the actual FAO Conference which stressed the call for a stop to domestic and foreign land grabbing and called for the implementation of a genuine, people-led agrarian, pasture and fisheries reforms and rural development, among others. PCFS, through ARD Program Manager Amy Padilla, facilitated a workshop discussion on Food Resiliency and Climate Change, delivered a brief input on comments on the Rio+20 draft, and joined the drafting committees for both the CSO statement and comments on the Global Strategic Framework. A brief meeting of the Civil Society Mechanism was also held in preparation for the actual FAO Conference. PCFS Co-Chair Antonio Tujan, Jr. is the incoming focal person for South-East Asia in 2013.
At the 31st session of the FAO Asia-Pacific Conference, the CSO delegation delivered various interventions on sustainable agriculture, FAO’s decentralization process, value-chain led development, among others. CSO interventions alongside member governments (instead of being allowed to speak after all others are done) marked a first for CSOs in FAO processes, a move welcomed by CSOs as they continued to call for more inclusiveness. PCFS likewise met as part of delegation with FAO officials new Director General Jose Graziano da Silva, Asst. Director General Hiroyuko Konuma and Independent Council Chair Luc Guyau. A brief meeting with CFS Chair Dr. Olaitan Olaniran also transpired.
PCFS first time in FAO Regional Conference for Africa
April 21-22 and April 23-27
In Congo, PCFS, through Secretariat Coordinator Roy Anunciacion, participated in the 27th session of the FAO Africa Regional Conference for the first time. The event reported on the performance of FAO and its programmes in Africa and how it has impacted on hunger and poverty reduction in the continent. The body likewise affirmed FAO's areas of priority action for Africa up to 2015.
In her speech, the FAO's regional representative to Africa, Ms. Maria Helena Semedo, highlighted the achievements of FAO-Africa since the planning meeting in Ethiopia two years ago. She also announced the implementation of FAO's decentralization which will give more authority and responsibility to country representative instead of waiting for decisions that have to come from Rome.
The presentation, however, was criticized by ambassadors from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Uganda who pointed out that the report failed to present actual results especially in terms of production increase. Most of the delegates repeatedly raised the imperative of addressing infrastructure needs which would make agricultural knowledge development and innovation insignificant if ignored, especially in remote rural areas. Market accessibility was equally reiterated by ambassadors of different countries revealing that 60-80 percent of agricultural produce are being exported outside the continent instead of developing inter-regional trading.
Prior to this, a CSO consultation was likewise held in conjunction with the 27th FAO-African Regional Conference. The two-day activity was attended by CSOs mainly from the West and Central African countries. Aiming to discuss main issues on the development of agriculture and rural areas, the consultation discussed the General Strategic Framework, Responsible Agricultural Investment and the Voluntary Guidelines on Land Tenure, Fisheries and Forestry which were drafted by the Committee for World Food Security (CFS). The body likewise drafted a declaration later presented in the FAO Conference.
For its part, PCFS shared the outcome of the CSO Consultation in Hanoi held last month. PCFS also participated in several workshops wherein PCFS shared position on the CFS documents and stressed that it is crucial for CSOs to hold their governments accountable for implementing the CFS guidelines. PCFS also added that the main test in the effectiveness of the CFS guidelines is at the national level where CSOs should be more active along with other stakeholders.
Lastly, PCFS announced its plan to hold a CSO Consultation on the African agenda on the Rio+ Summit set to be held on May 17-18, 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya. Invitations for the Kenya event were extended to different CSOs in the consultations along with FAO and CFS officials present in the activity.