Hard and Fast Facts on What’s Happening in Rome

by Khristian Méndez

As a preparatory meeting for the 40th Plenary Session of the World Committee on Food Security, over 175 representatives from Civil Society met yesterday at the Headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in Rome, Italy. More on what is happening after the jump.

The room is teeming with diversity, with delegates hailing from all corners of the world, and different political backgrounds. Most importantly, each person in the big red (orange) room carries with them the perspectives from Civil Society organizations and social movements from diverse points in the global food system, but it is worth noting that perhaps we are not covering them all…

Before carrying on with the breakdown of the working groups for the weekend, I would like to make a little quick breakdown on the basic facts of what is happening here, for our readers that are new to the Civil Society Mechanism and the World Committee on World Food Security.

The Who

The members and different parts of the International Food Security and Nutrition Mechanism for the CFS, its acronym is CSM. There are two parts to the party in Rome, the first one, where we are now, is the civil society space, where they meet under different working groups to try and create consensus on the issues up for discussion at the Committee on World Food Security (CFS).

The Mechanism was created in 2010 as a result of the CFS Reform. This is the 4th Annual Forum, and the second one to be hosted at the FAO.

The CFS is where policy and policy recommendations are decided upon by member states, with input from the Civil Society Mechanism, the Private Sector Mechanism as well as other actors.

The Why

The CSM meets in its Annual Forum both to discuss and try to convene on different issues surrounding the CFS Agenda, as well as its own internal matters, such as Biofuels and Food Security, Food Security in Protracted Crises, and Responsible Agricultural Investment (rai).

The Where

Rome, Italy, the Headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The Annual Forum used to happen at the Headquarters of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, but it was moved here last year.

last but not least, the How

At the start of each session and meeting, translations start fizzing out of different earpieces, whispering into the ears the translations of the speeches going on, into Portuguese, French, Spanish, English, depending on who is speaking. The rooms are, except for the Red and the Blue room, usually sponsored by different Countries for the FAO Headquarters, and they are decorated in a way that evokes the visual tradition or landscape of specific countries. Yesterday, for example, Biofuels met in the Philippines Room.

There are two or three people facilitating the discussions, and the floor is open to all members of the CSM to speak up. The idea is to come up with proposed text, red lines, things that will not be accepted, and lobbying strategies.


Feel free to write in the comments below any questions you might have about what is going on!


2 thoughts on “Hard and Fast Facts on What’s Happening in Rome

    1. Hi Lara! Thanks for the comment.

      We had a conversation with one of our professors about how the eleven constituencies are missing certain voices, like Workers’ Unions. I think that as much as Agricultural Workers are recognized as a constituency, there are many other workers in global food systems who have things to contribute about some of the topics covered by the CSM and the CFS. For example, workers from supermarkets, restaurants and formal businesses would have a lot to contribute to conversations about Food Waste.

      I also think Forest Dwellers could be added (they are recognized as a constituency by FAO’s civil society constituencies, for example). and I’m sure I’m missing others, but the question is where do you stop… Marketing agencies who market food are a key part of the private sector activities in relation to food. Should they be considered here?

      I hope this clarifies!

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