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Dear Friends and Colleagues

Civil Society Calls to Address Gaps in FAO’s Second Nutrition Conference

From 19-21 November 2014, the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) was held at FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy, twenty-two years after ICN1. It was a high-level intergovernmental meeting that focused on addressing all forms of malnutrition. Over 2,200 participants from the government, civil society and private sector attended. The meeting endorsed two outcome documents; the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and the Framework for Action.

Civil society organisations and social movements have released two statements in response to ICN2. Both register disappointment that the meeting failed to address the fundamental causes of malnutrition, and concern that the proposed solutions will instead create more threats to nutrition, the environment, sustainability and social justice. Specifically, the current hegemonic food system and agro-industrial production model are not only unable to respond to existing malnutrition problems but have contributed to malnutrition and the decrease of the diversity and quality of diets. Coupled with unfair trade agreements, support of agribusiness models and promotion of monoculture and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), corporate grabbing of land and other resources, and lack of investment in small-scale food production, this has led to the marginalization of small-scale producers, who are our main food producers. Social movements also expressed alarm at the explicit exclusion of gender in the ICN2 outcome documents, pointing out that nutrition starts with women.

Various calls were made for: accountability and follow up, the recognition of human rights and a human rights-based approach to food and nutrition security, sovereign local food and agricultural systems based on agroecological principles, coherent and coordinated management of nutrition throughout the human lifecycle and at all levels, the democratic governance of food and nutrition, and a global regulatory framework. In particular, the role of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) was recognized as the critical space where policy coherence for food security and nutrition needs to be established. 

The signatories stressed that “nutrition can only be addressed in the context of vibrant and flourishing local food systems that are deeply ecologically rooted, environmentally sound and culturally and socially appropriate” and that “food sovereignty is a fundamental pre-condition to ensure food security and guarantee the human right to adequate food and nutrition.”

An earlier statement, the ‘Public Interest Civil Society Organizations Vision Statement on Nutrition’ dated 13 November 2014, is available at http://www.fian.org/fileadmin/media/publications/CSO_Vision_Statement_-_Final.pdf

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Item 1

http://www.fian.org/fileadmin/media/publications/CSO_Forum_Declaration_-FINAL_20141121_e.pdf

PUBLIC INTEREST CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS´ AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS´ FORUM DECLARATION TO THE SECOND INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON NUTRITION (ICN2)

Rome, 21 November 2014 

From November 16-18, we, social movements representing peasants, small-scale fishers and fishing communities, pastoralists, urban poor, consumers, women, youth, Indigenous Peoples and agricultural and food workers, came together with the representatives of public interest civil society organizations that have actively engaged in the preparatory process of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), to share our values, and aspirations, to join forces in our common vision on how to eradicate malnutrition in all its forms, and to hold governments and intergovernmental organizations to account on their obligations and commitments.

It is unacceptable that in a world of plenty more than 800 million of our brothers and sisters go to bed hungry every night and over half a billion are obese. More than 150 million children suffer from stunting, over 50 million children are wasted, more than 40 million children are obese, and approximately 800,000 babies die every year because they are not optimally breastfed. The injustice of malnutrition has meant that several thousand of our children have died since this discussion started. These problems should have been tackled a long time ago.

22 years after ICN1, this conference is taking place without properly evaluating progress or failures and without significant participation of civil society, in particular those most affected by hunger and malnutrition in all its forms. We deplore that ICN1 has sunk without trace and we do not want this to happen for ICN2.

The conclusion of the ICN2 negotiations is a welcome step, in particular its focus on malnutrition in all its form. However, we consider it inadequate to confront the scale of the global malnutrition challenge.

We reaffirm that food is the expression of values, cultures, social relations and people’s self- determination, and that the act of feeding oneself and others embodies our sovereignty, ownership and empowerment. When nourishing ourselves and eating with our family, friends, and community, we reaffirm our cultural identities, interdependence with nature, control of our life course and human dignity. Understanding the challenge of malnutrition in all its forms therefore requires a holistic and multidisciplinary analysis, one that combines the political and technical perspectives.

We recognize that the current hegemonic food system and agro-industrial production model are not only unable to respond to the existing malnutrition problems but have contributed to the creation of different forms of malnutrition and the decrease of the diversity and quality of our diets. Trade agreements, support of agribusiness models and promotion of monoculture and GMO, corporate grabbing of land, oceans, lakes, rivers and aquatic resources, and lack of investment in small-scale food production, have led to displacement and impoverishment of small-scale producers all over the world. The lack of respect to the mobility of many producers, their forced sedentarization, the lack of respect to communal tenure of their natural resources, and the privatization or destruction of governance structures, have all caused malnutrition and environmental damage with irreversible consequences on productive systems.

This has also led to profoundly negative environmental impacts such as soil erosion and contamination, ocean acidification, loss of fertility, reduction of biodiversity, and climate change. Marketing of ultra-processed products have contributed to the surge of obesity while unethical practices by breast milk-substitute producers continue to undermine the life-saving practice of breastfeeding. The persistence of gender inequalities and the continued violations of women’s rights are among the root causes of women and child malnutrition. No proper nourishment is possible if the hearts and minds of people are violated.

Taking this into account, we reaffirm that nutrition can only be addressed in the context of vibrant and flourishing local food systems that are deeply ecologically rooted, environmentally sound and culturally and socially appropriate. We are convinced that food sovereignty is a fundamental pre-condition to ensure food security and guarantee the human right to adequate food and nutrition. In this context, it is necessary to reaffirm the centrality of small-scale and family food producers as the key actors and drivers of local food systems and the main investors in agriculture. Their secure access to, and control over, resources such as land, water and aquatic resources, adequate mobility routes, local seeds, breeds and all other genetic resources, technical and financial resources, as well as social protection, particularly for women, are all essential factors to ensure diversified diets and adequate nutrition.

It therefore becomes imperative to tackle the political, social, cultural and economic determinants of malnutrition in all its forms, including undernourishment, stunting, wasting, micronutrient deficiencies, overweight and obesity, and diet-related non-communicable diseases. However, the framing of any policy, programme and action plan on food and nutrition should be the unambiguous understanding of the rights to adequate food and nutrition, health and safe water, as fundamental human rights, which identify people as rights-holders and states as duty-bearers with an obligation to respect, protect and fulfil these and other related rights. 

Accountability and Follow-up

ICN2 is another step in addressing a long overdue problem. There is an urgent need to strengthen governmental commitment and raise the level of ambition. This must be achieved through an effective follow-up process, with the active participation of social movements and civil society organizations, with a clear timeline to reach the objectives as well as specific indicators and benchmarks for monitoring progress.

Strong accountability is imperative for ensuring that the commitments made at ICN2 truly contribute to ending malnutrition in all its forms. We appreciate the efforts by FAO and WHO to coordinate their work plans in the light of the ICN2 outcomes and welcome the UN General Assembly (UNGA) endorsement and oversight. However, we remain concerned that the governance and accountability mechanisms for the implementation of the ICN2 outcomes appear unclear, fragmented, disconnected and duplicative. In this context, we call upon Member States to commit to developing a coherent, accountable and participatory governance mechanism, safeguarded against undue corporate influence. Such mechanism should be based on principles of human rights, social justice, transparency, and democracy, and directly engage civil society, in particular the populations and communities which are most affected by different forms of malnutrition.

We recommend the following platforms as appropriate for follow-up:

Firstly, we recognize the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) - reaffirming its role as the foremost inclusive government-led global platform among all concerned actors - as the critical space where policy coherence for food security and nutrition needs to be established. In this context, it is important to build consistency between the ICN2 follow-up process and the CFS Global Strategic Framework. As the CFS, despite its mandate, has thus far primarily focused on food security, we urge CFS Member States to fully integrate nutrition in its workplan and ensure that the World Health Organization (WHO) is officially included in the Secretariat and Advisory Group. CFS as the inclusive foremost global forum that ensures coherence of food, should fully integrate nutrition policies within the rights-based framework of its work.  

Secondly, Member States should ensure that the post-2015 development framework is consistent with the imperatives of food and nutrition security and includes ambitious goals and targets, with robust indicators and accountability to those ends across all relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Thirdly, Member States must also establish nutrition targets and intermediate milestones, consistent with the timeframe for the implementation of the agreed six World Health Assembly (WHA) global nutrition targets (2025) and the relevant targets in the WHO Global Monitoring Framework for NCDs. As such, reporting and monitoring of progress towards these targets should take place in the context of the WHA along with reporting on nutrition policy commitments.

Lastly, Member States should request that the Human Rights Council ensure that the ICN2 follow- up and related policies are coherent with the respect, protection and fulfilment of the right to adequate food and nutrition and related rights. 

Human Rights and rights-based approach to food and nutrition security

We call upon Member States to ensure that national and international public policies respect, protect and fulfil human rights obligations, and act in accordance with the realization of the right to adequate food and nutrition and related rights.

Women are the primary agents of change in combating malnutrition in all its forms. ICN2 has thus far failed to take this evidence into due account. The full realization of women’s human rights is central to the pursuit of the right to adequate food and nutrition for all. As such, we call upon Member States to institute policies that empower women, including paid maternity leave, support for breastfeeding in the workplace, and universal social protection. We also call upon Member States to ensure the social recognition of unpaid work – through social and community support mechanisms –and to promote the gendered redistribution of household tasks. We further urge Member States to ensure that all forms of violence against women are eradicated.

Women’s sexual and reproductive rights and health also have a direct impact on combatting malnutrition and must therefore be guaranteed, including committing to efforts to end child marriage and prevent unwanted adolescent pregnancies. 

Breastfeeding is the first act of food sovereignty in all its dimensions. The support of breastfeeding and optimal young child feeding must be an integral part of health care systems and health policies, and free from commercial influence. We call upon Member States to ensure that the Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding guides policy and programme action. We also call upon Member States to protect children from aggressive and inappropriate marketing of breast-milk substitutes by adopting the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and relevant WHO resolutions, and establishing effective monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. Micronutrient interventions and supplementation should not undermine breastfeeding and local bio-diverse culturally appropriate sustainable foods, and be in-line with government nutrition policies. 

Small-scale farmers, pastoralists, small-scale fishers and fishing communities, agricultural and food workers, Indigenous Peoples, landless people, rural women and youth, are the main producers of food around the world and their contribution to guarantee healthy diets is essential. Nonetheless, they suffer daily violations of their human rights. For this reason, we urge Member States to respect peasants’ rights and the environment where they live, and welcome and support the creation of an Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group at the UN Human Rights Council on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.

Indigenous food systems sustain and nurture our cultures and traditional economies. However, systemic violations of Indigenous Peoples’ rights to lands, territories, oceans, seas, inland waterways, lakes, and other resources, has disproportionate and negative impacts on livelihoods, including access to traditional foods. We emphasize the need for a human-rights based approach to nutrition and food as understood through the lens of existing human rights standards, including the 2007 United Nations Declaration on Indigenous People’s Rights as a minimum standard.

We call upon Member States to cooperate in supporting productive systems in areas of marginal productivity, protecting resilience mechanisms such as seasonal mobility corridors, as well as communal and seasonally used lands, and withdrawing the barriers to mobility, thereby reducing the need of local communities for humanitarian assistance.

We also request that Member States pay special attention to agricultural and plantation workers. There are over 200 million hungry and malnourished workers without sufficient income to buy enough nutritious food for themselves and their families. The solution is not to provide food supplements: employers should be responsible for paying workers a living wage. 

Sovereign local food and agricultural systems based on agroecological principles

Nutrition must be rooted in local food systems based on food sovereignty, small-scale food producers, agroecological principles, sustainable use of natural resources, local seeds and livestock breeds, traditional knowledge and practice, and local markets, guaranteeing sustainable and resilient biodiversity and diversity of diets.

We denounce the negative economic, social, environmental and cultural impacts caused by the global grabbing of land, oceans, lakes, rivers, and aquatic resources, and their grave impact on food sovereignty.

We call upon Member States to recognize that small-scale food producer-led sustainable, resilient local food systems can best respond to the threat of climate change, and commit to concerted actions that strengthens local food systems, including promoting local and regional markets and ensuring healthy ecosystems. This will most certainly drive significant improvements in nutrition, and contribute significantly to the prevention of malnutrition of all its forms.  

We also call on Member States to ensure that Regional Governments and Local Authorities establish appropriate and multi-actor local food policy governance bodies that include the consumers and small-scale local food producers. Furthermore, we call for reforms of current local food procurement practice for school canteens, homes for the elderly and hospitals, and other public institutions as well as social groceries to include clauses that privilege the provision of fresh local produce by small-scale local producers. 

Coherent and coordinated management of nutrition throughout the lifecycle and at all levels

We support an integrated approach to malnutrition that builds community capacity, promotes optimal infant and young child feeding, especially breastfeeding, improves dietary intake for women and children during the first 1,000 days, and improves nutritious diets, along with supplementation as per the World Health Organization’s recommendation in areas where micronutrient deficiencies are known to be a public health problem.  

The policy and program commitments that must follow ICN2 should address the root causes of malnutrition in all its forms among all age groups, including infants, young children, adolescents, adults, the elderly, disabled, and marginalized, working poor and other vulnerable groups. This includes accelerated progress on all six of the WHA global nutrition targets--stunting, anaemia, low birth weight, overweight, exclusive breastfeeding and wasting--and Global WHO NCD targets.

In order to do this, we call upon Member States to recognize that the nutrition of young children, adolescent girls and women - particularly in the 1,000 day window between pregnancy and age two - is of paramount importance as it helps set the foundation of human development. 

We call upon Member States to fully embrace the “do no harm” principle as the baseline of any policy, including agriculture, fisheries, forestry and food, and ensure that these policies at a minimum do not harm people’s nutrition and rather aim at improving people’s nutrition status. Furthermore, situations of crisis and protracted crises often produce international and regional aid programs that do not meet the real nutritional needs of affected communities and are carried out without consulting local communities.

The large majority of deaths in children under-five due to malnutrition do not happen in acute emergencies but in relatively stable countries. It is imperative that the ICN2 follow-up addresses the profound social, economic and political determinants of malnutrition, and in particular, the high levels of acute malnutrition. In this context, we urge governments to support appropriate treatment approaches, such as the Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM), and preventive measures that empower communities and strengthen health and food systems, as well as resilient livelihoods and production systems. We also call upon Member States to commit to integrate actions designed to improve nutrition across all sectors and programmes, including those focused on water and sanitation, education, women’s empowerment, and agriculture. We also urge Member States to recognise, validate, respect and protect traditional knowledge that guarantees nutrition. 

We further urge Member States to address the underlying causes of malnutrition at the community level related to food, care and health so that existing product-based approaches are limited to certain circumstances, including the treatment of acute malnutrition, and do not interfere with human rights- and food-based, local, bottom-up, capacity-building approaches for the prevention of all forms of malnutrition.

Consumers have a right to healthy, affordable, accessible and culturally adequate food options, and to be protected (particularly children) from aggressive marketing of unhealthy food and beverage that promote malnutrition, obesity and diet-related NCDs. We call upon Member States to develop and implement policies that encourage the consumption of naturally nutritious diets, promote physical activity in healthy environmental conditions, and discourage the over- consumption of salt, sugar and saturated fats. Ultra-processed food and beverage products, especially when they are affordably priced, need to be regulated through economic and legislative measures.

Consumers have the right to know, in easy to understand terms, the nutritional content of food and beverages as well as have full information on the presence of potentially harmful substances as well as ingredients from GMO crops at any level of the production chain. 

Democratic governance of food and nutrition and global regulatory framework

We are deeply concerned that, under current trade and investment regimes (both bi- and multilateral), the governmental policy space for advancing public health, food and nutrition related measures is severely limited. 

We therefore urge Member States to protect the public policy space for food, nutrition and health by ensuring that trade and investment agreements are compliant with existing international obligations in relation to the right to adequate food and nutrition, the right to health and other human rights. Furthermore, we call on Member States to guarantee effective public participation and ensure that the views of the most affected are taken into full consideration in relation to trade and investment negotiations. 

The realization of the right to food and nutrition, and the right to health, are hampered by economic, social and political inequalities as well as by existing power imbalances. There is an urgent need to ensure proper regulation and accountability of powerful economic actors, such as transnational corporations. In this respect, we call upon Member States to regulate those practices and initiatives of the corporate sector, both intra and extraterritorial, that might negatively interfere with the enjoyment of the human right to adequate food and nutrition, women´s rights and the right to health. Among others, these activities may include land and water grabbing; soil, food, water and human contamination with agrochemicals; the commodification of seeds and livestock breeds; the marketing of breast milk substitutes; and the production and marketing of ultra-processed and junk food in particular though not exclusively to children. We therefore welcome the establishment of an Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group on a legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights and stand ready to support governments’ action in this area.

The policy space of Governments must be protected, in all phases and at all levels, against conflicts of interest introduced by inappropriate relationships with powerful economic actors, including transnational corporations. In this respect, Member States and UN agencies are urged to design and implement effective rules and regulations on conflict of interest, and review and potentially terminate or re-design in conformity with these rules and regulations, all Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) and multi-stakeholder arrangements. 

Conclusion

22 years – an entire generation – have passed since the first ICN. It is unacceptable that millions of people continue suffer from and die of preventable causes of malnutrition in all its forms. This violence must stop immediately.

We call upon Member States to make clear and firm commitments at both national and international levels to ensure the full realization of the human right to adequate food and nutrition and related rights. We will not watch idly as another 22 years pass by.

We stand ready to play our part and take up our responsibilities. We demand that Member States and the UN system live up to their obligations.

We hereby declare a worldwide People’s Decade of Action on Nutrition.

The time for action is now!

Item 2

http://www.fian.org/fileadmin/media/publications/Statement_by_Social_Movements_on_Nutrition_-_21_Nov_14.pdf

SOCIAL MOVEMENTS STATEMENT ON NUTRITION 

Rome, November – Social Movements around the world are deeply disappointed in the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) process and outcome documents that fail to address the fundamental causes of nutrition issues. We fear that many of the proposed solutions at ICN2 will create more threats to nutrition, the environment, sustainability and social justice. We, representing social movements around the world including Women, Youth, Indigenous Peoples (our indigenous elderly woman and men, the youth, boys and girls), Peasants, Workers, Urban Poor, Consumers, Small-scale Farmers, Small-scale Fisher-folks and Fishing Communities, Mobile Pastoralists, and the Landless are strongly concerned that ICN2 neither represents nor reflects the interests and needs of our constituents.  Instead, it meets the demands of private sector, including agricultural, food, pharmaceutical and chemical industries, all of whom have played a strong role in exacerbating nutrition and hunger challenges.  The private sector is given increasing power and space in policy processes and governance structures, especially at ICN2.   

Nutrition cannot be separated from food. The artificial separation of nutrition from food systems (including traditional food systems), health, environment and agriculture that has been encouraged by the neoliberal economic model, has resulted in technical and product-based solutions that ignore economic, environmental, social, health and cultural determinants. 

For members of social movements, nutrition also encompasses identity, love, caring, spirituality, and health. Nutrition is more than simply eating. It forms an integral part of the transmission of methods, knowledge, language, ceremonies, dances, prayers, oral histories, stories and songs related to food, subsistence practices. It is also essential to the continued use of traditional foods in our daily diets. We denounce a global food system and international paradigm that is increasingly dominated by transnational and other corporations. They damage the connection between humans and their connection to food and nutrition, and fail to respect human rights obligations. 

Development priorities of today’s agribusiness have had negative impacts on nutrition. Monocropping and the use of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and chemical inputs are poisoning our communities, soils, and water resources. These negative impacts are often irreversible for our environment. The increasing practice of land and ocean grabbing - that also involves lakes, rivers, aquatic resources and indigenous territories - and the damage caused by unregulated expropriation and extractive industries, such as fracking, all damage natural resources, prevents access by our community food producers to their resources, and create barriers to mobility routes.  

Real nutrition requires an ecologically sound and socially just food regime that does not promote privatization, and puts the needs of small-scale food producers at the center of solutions. This includes the need for stronger support of fishing communities, both inland and offshore, as well as for mobile pastoralists. We urge States to establish and implement fishing policies that place small-scale fishers and fishing communities at the core of their governance and to care for the oceans, lakes, rivers, aquatic resources and marine ecosystems. We demand an end to corporate enclosures, and that oceans be brought back into the global Commons. Furthermore the lack of respect of the mobility of many producers and their enforced sedentarization, as well as the lack of respect for the communal tenure of their natural resources, and privatization or their destruction of governance structures, have all caused malnutrition and environmental damage that has had irreversible consequences on their productive systems. 

Food sovereignty is a prerequisite for food and nutrition security. Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to define their own policies and strategies for sustainable production, distribution, and consumption of food, that respect their own identities and systems of managing natural resources. 

The interdependence of a healthy environment, food sovereignty, food security and nutrition cannot be underestimated. We are deeply concerned by the impacts of the agro-industrial model that continue to cause degradation and contamination of our environment, as well as the negative impacts on ecosystems, soil, water and other productive resources. All people have the right to healthy, safe and chemical-free food. 

Social movements are alarmed by the explicit exclusion of gender in the outcome documents of ICN2. We emphasize the links between existing threats to reproductive and maternal health, the lack of protection of women and their sexual and reproductive rights, environmental violence and contamination. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by malnutrition, and the realization of the right to adequate food and nutrition. Socio-economic inequalities between men and women have direct impacts on nutrition.  

Nutrition starts with women. In many communities women are responsible for much of the food cultivation, harvesting and processing, as well as providing meals for the family, but many lack access to adequate food and nutrition education. We support the inclusion of the issue of breastfeeding at ICN2, not only as a matter of nutrition and early childhood development, but also as central to the traditional and inherent rights of infants and women that have been compromised by discrimination, harassment, and false information about the nutritional value of breast milk versus manufactured, chemically-enriched formula.  Breastfeeding represents the very first guarantee of the human right to healthy food and nutrition.  

Realizing the right to nutrition is embedded in the implementation of the human rights-based policies that inherently support food sovereignty. We demand a human- rights based approach to nutrition and food as understood through the lens of existing human rights’ obligations, including but not limited to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of the their Families, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  

We also demand that States respect and implement policies that align with the Voluntary Guidelines on Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries and the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Lands, Fisheries and Forests in Context of National Food Security, that have been developed with the full participation of civil society and social movements. It is also imperative that governments engage with the recently created Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group on a legally binding instrument on transnational corporations as well as other business enterprises with respect to human rights; and Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group at the UN Human Rights Council on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. We stand ready to support governments´ actions in this regard, and call on States to develop and implement all policies and actions with the full participation of social movements. 

We urge States and corporations to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, including States’ obligation to protect human rights, the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, and the right to redress for victims of business-related abuse, as well as the full respect of extraterritorial obligations. On this specific issue, we wish to express our deep concern about the contents of the UN Global Compact on business and human rights, and the concept of “corporate social responsibility” which can be manipulated to shield corporations from true accountability with the complicity of States. 

The World Trade Organization (WTO) rules violate human rights, and exacerbate hunger and nutrition challenges. The greatest distortions in the trading system lie in agriculture, based on the WTO regime of agricultural subsidies that allow countries to grant considerable subsidies to their own farmers while preventing the same conditions being implemented in developing countries.  Moreover, the constraints imposed by regional and bi- or multilateral free trade agreements erode policy space needed to regulate investment, protect small-scale food producers and local markets, and support rural livelihoods.  

We express our deep concern at the corporate takeover of food systems, whereby nutrition has become an industry unto itself, creating business and generating profits not through the provision of natural nutritious food, but by replacing it with expensive supplements and overly processed foods that fail to meet the nutritional needs of communities.   

The characterization of nutritional “emergencies” in situations of crisis and protracted crises has promoted and reinforced aid programs and “solutions” that tend to be carried out without consulting local communities, and do not meet the real nutritional needs of affected communities. This has the effect of demoralizing and devastating local economies while undermining social movements and potentially creating new conflicts. UN Agencies, donors, NGOs and States must endeavor to understand the consequences of such projects and work towards more integrated solutions and orientations. This is particularly important in light of the current state of refugees and internally displaced persons, and the potential of future natural disasters due in part to climate change and the insufficiency of measures to address climate change. 

Weakened governance and corporate capture of policy space is in direct contradiction to the rights-based advocacy of social movements. We note with alarm the ongoing diminishment of governance and governments, and correlated corporate capture of policy space at all levels, particularly evident at ICN2. This includes significant increases in public-private partnerships that frequently result in strengthened corporate lobbies and influence. Furthermore, shrinking space for governments is resulting in a loss of accountability of governments in relation to food, nutrition and other human rights obligations.  Corporate capture of policy space respecting nutrition and food poses substantial risks to human and environmental health, social welfare, and the future of agriculture, fisheries and livestock keeping. Public policy must be in the public interest and it’s critical to fully address conflict of interests. 

It is necessary for the formal establishment of adequate mechanisms for consumers to have access to healthy fresh foods that comes from small producers. Governments at all levels should implement public procurement policies that source food from local-small scale producers. Local, regional and inter-governmental bodies should promote and defend sustainable food systems by adapting policies that regulate public procurement and not adopt policies that prohibit local procurement.  

The role of communications, information and media is vital to the appropriate development of public policies. All information, communications and media from transnational and other corporations requires regulation and monitoring. We demand regulations that prohibit all marketing of unhealthy, ultra-processed products high in sugar, fat and/or salt, including formula milk, and infant and small children’s foods promoted to parents, children and youth. The rights of consumers include adequate information and consumer education free of corporate influence that alerts people to the risks. In this regard, we need more stringent standards in food labeling and food label standardization that address risk versus disclosure of misleading benefits. Labeling must provide greater information that the current minimum standard requirements and disclosures. 

We demand a policy space that is inclusive of those who are consistently marginalized, with the appropriate and meaningful participation of all constituents of social movements. These movements reflect our values and objectives and ideas put forward are done so  through our own internal processes. We also emphasize that the increasing criminalization of social movements with regard to food and nutrition- related advocacy and protest in many countries, is totally unacceptable.  

Civil society work on nutrition should provide space for the meaningful participation of social movements, such as the space created within the CFS. Nutrition is a core pillar of the CFS mandate and nutrition should be mainstreamed in all CFS policy processes. CFS as the inclusive foremost global forum that ensures coherence of food, should fully integrate nutrition policies within the rights-based framework of its work.  

We emphasize the fundamental preventive role that nutrition plays in ensuring good health. Food is medicine, but medicine is not food. In poor communities, the lack of access to healthy food combined with a barrage of highly processed food from transnational and other food corporations is fueling the epidemics of obesity, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases. Effectively tackling issues of hunger, malnutrition in all its forms and diet-related diseases would encourage communities to become active participants in shaping food systems in cooperation with local small- scale food producers, and also contribute to food sovereignty. 

An adequate standard of living implies conditions to maintain a healthy life. This includes food, water, sanitation, housing, and health. Some of the most adversely affected are the workers that grow, harvest and process food, but lack a living wage to support their own household’s nutrition, food security and quality of life. A core prerequisite to achieving this goal is labour rights and subsequent social protection. There is a clear link between low wages and poor nutrition. The answer is not to give supplements to workers but to ask employers to pay all workers a living wage so that they can buy nutritious food for themselves and their families. 

Small-scale food producers including family farmers, Indigenous Peoples, fisher folk and fishing communities, mobile pastoralists and agricultural and food workers should be at the center of any strategy to combat malnutrition, as reinforced by the FAO International Year of Family Farming. In this regard, overcoming socio-economic and environmental challenges and achieving sustainable nutrition in local communities is best served through the promotion and support of small-scale sustainable, agroecological food production linked to local markets.   

We imperatively demand the protection of animal breeds, and native and peasant seeds. This includes centers of origin from the invasion and contamination of genetically modified seeds that affect biodiversity and ecosystems, and that affect humanity of the current generation, the unborn and the lives of those to come.   

Social movements are well placed to make positive contributions in the form of best practice in sustainable nutrition based on local resources. Food systems based on indigenous and traditional knowledge can offer both theory and practice, and make important contributions to collective progress towards sustainable food systems and nutrition.  

Social movements support the full and equitable enforcement of concepts such as “fair trade” with regard to family farmers. While terms such as “organic” and “fair trade” have been captured through marketing efforts of transnational and other corporations that oblige producers to acquire expensive certification, participatory guarantee systems do just the opposite: they provide an accessible, respectful and inclusive alternative to small-scale food producers and social movements and are recognized by consumers in many countries.  

We, as members of social movements urge States, local governments and authorities to ensure the equitable distribution of food through reformed public policies and improved public distribution systems, such as school meal programmes and maternal infant programme support. Elected officials and civil servants should pay specific attention to meeting the needs of vulnerable populations, including women, children, senior citizens, indigenous peoples and the chronically ill or disabled. Furthermore, education on nutrition and food must be community-driven and capture of education in the areas of nutrition, food, and food systems, often with the complicity of States. 

For this and much more that has not been fully expressed by the oppressed and the unheard, we demand our voices echo and resonate in the hearts of people, international communities and Member States.

 


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