POETCom represents Pacific civil society at global food security discussions
Thursday, 14 November 2013 10:16
Stephen Hazelman, the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community’s (POETCom) Organic Extension Systems Officer based in the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), represented Pacific civil society at the Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) for the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS) held recently in Rome.

As the largest international mechanism of civil society organisations (CSOs) the CSM seeks to influence agriculture, food security and nutrition policies and actions - nationally, regionally and globally. It reaches out to hundreds of CSOs on all continents, sharing information with them on global policy debates and processes. The CSM promotes civil society consultations and dialogue, supports national and regional advocacy and facilitates the participation of a diverse range of CSOs at the global level, in the context of the CFS.

To date, the Pacific has been represented in the CSM through the ‘Australasia’ region. In late 2010, POETCom, for which SPC serves as the secretariat, initiated discussions with the Australasia representative as to the need for separate representation for the Pacific, due to our unique circumstances and significant differences from Australia and New Zealand. This eventuated in 2012 and, following a selection process through POETCom, the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Government Organizations (PIANGO) and the CSM Coordination Committee, Stephen Hazelman was endorsed as the Pacific representative. This was the first time the Pacific Islands region had its own representation at the CSM.

‘The CSM is an inclusive space open to all civil society organizations, with priority given to the organisations and movements of the people most affected by food insecurity and malnutrition. These can be smallholder producers, fisher folk, pastoralists, indigenous, urban poor, migrants, agricultural workers, etc. The CSM is founded on the belief that the people most affected by food insecurity and malnutrition must be the agents of their own development, and are best placed to represent their own interests and views, not only victims but also bearers of solutions,’ said Hazelman.

The CSM aims to support CSOs to influence policy processes and outcomes at the global level by facilitating civil society participation in CFS Plenary Sessions, Open Ended Working Groups, Task Teams, the CFS Advisory Group and other CFS mechanisms. The CSM also seeks to enable civil society to influence policy processes at regional and national levels by facilitating civil society participation in regional inter-governmental events and processes, e.g. FAO regional conferences, and facilitating participation in national, multi-stakeholder food security governance structures and processes.

On his return Hazelman noted ‘This is an opportunity that the Pacific should utilize to voice the issues and priorities that are affecting us. The next steps include gathering the voice of Pacific civil societies with regards to food and nutritional security through established groupings such as POETCom, PIANGO and Pacific Island Farmers Organization Network (PIFON), and seeking ways to prioritize issues to take to the World Committee on Food Security so that the Pacific priorities can be put into global debates and frameworks for resource allocation from development partners.’

The CSM facilitates the broad and regular exchange of information, analysis and experience between CSOs from around the world. It also enables the development of common CSO positions where possible, and helps communicate divergent positions where there is no consensus. These functions are performed through the facilitation of face-to-face and virtual meetings, trainings, consultations, reports and papers, the CSM website (www.csm4cfs.org), CSM working groups and an annual CSM Forum.