World Food Security – Session 41 at FAO

“Those who suffer food insecurity and malnutrition are persons, not numbers.” spoke Pope Francis in his Message for WORLD FOOD DAY, delivered at FAO Headquarters, Rome, during the CFS (Committee on World Food Security) Session 41 held from 13-18 October. Is considered the overarching UN committee with responsibility to articulate the issue of ‘food and nutrition security’ and develop policies and programs so that not the reduction, but the ‘Elimination of Hunger’ as Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General has stated might be achieved.

I attended the Session 41 of CFS, held at FAO Headquarters in Rome with the coordination and participation also of the other two UN Agencies, WFP (World Food Program) and IFAD (International Fund for Agriculture Development). Mr Jose Graziano da Silva, FAO Director General, said in his opening remarks:  ‘Food security is everyone’s business’ and Ms Ertharin Cousins Executive Director of WFP in a passionate delivery remarked that yes the State of Food Insecurity (SOFI-2014) Report tells us the number of the chronically hunger in the world declined from 842 million in 2013 to 805 million in 2014 .And 3.1 million children died last year of hunger while millions more were stunted for lack of adequate nutrition while in sub-Saharan Africa the food losses from spoilage after harvest and destruction by pests of stored foods in 1 year equals 10 years of food assistance that comes to Africa from around the world.

The above comments on the opening day set the tone for the major issues discussed this year. 127 of the countries of the world (including the Holy See with a Permanent Observer) have joined. In 2009 a thorough reform broadened the participation to include Civil Society Organizations and Movements organized through the Civil Society Mechanism. Also the Private Sector Mechanism was formed and NGOs and other international organizations like the World Bank, the ILO, WHO, etc. participate lending credibility to the claim that this is the most wide-ranging and comprehensive world body developing policies and programs to reduce, to eliminate hunger and malnutrition..

But the major agenda point at this year’s CFS Session 41 was ‘rai’ or ‘Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems.’ This policy document was endorsed by the voting government delegations. All CFS documents are endorsed by consensus, meaning with no negative votes. This requires and has required lengthy debates over the past two years to find language all could live with (even if not satisfied with.

The work continues; the development of policies is a year around process. We have many people on the ground’ at the village level. We can observe what is happening at that level. CFS spoke of the importance of a “Framework for monitoring CFS decisions.”  All 127 member governments endorse the documents. But then the important step is implementation. . Here I believe is where our religious Congregations have a vital role to play, holding all to accountability.

To conclude let me again quote Pope Francis: “Beyond the data, there is an important aspect of the problem ….those who suffer food insecurity and malnutrition are persons not numbers, and precisely because of their dignity as persons, they are above any calculation or economic plan.”  Read More

Ken Thesing, MM

Representative – ICT at FAO Association