Mr. Kazuyuki warmly welcomed the representatives of the Regional and International Civil Society Organizations, International Inter-Governmental Organizations and Colleagues from the FAO Regional Office and Headquarters to Manila. He explained that this consultation is devoted to enhancing FAO’s collaboration in the Asia and the Pacific Region with the wide range of civil society important to food and agriculture; Non-Governmental, farmers’, fishers, indigenous people, women’s, youth organizations.
“This meeting is being held at an historic, but tragic moment: for the very first time 1 billion people in the world are hungry and malnourished. Sadly, the majority is in Asia, 642 million mostly in rural areas and many the very people that produce most of our food: farmers, fishers, women, indigenous peoples,” he added.
Mr. Kazuyuki stressed that civil society is an important partner of FAO to succeed in addressing these global challenges to food and agriculture and to feed the hungry, because of its experience, expertise, and capability to voice out the sectors’ priorities before governments. He ended by saying that this regional consultation is certainly a step in the right direction and – as he understood from colleagues from Bangkok and Rome - only a step in a process of regular consultation leading to the Regional Conference in 2010, to 2011 and beyond.
Ms. Marlene Ramirez, of AsiaDHRRA, welcomed the participants to this occasion which she said coincided with the people power celebration in the Philippines. She observed that the majority remained poor after 26 years of democracy in the country, especially the rural communities. She added that as a regional network, AsiaDHRRA has maintained a view that the relevance of all the global debates and meetings of Rome-based food and agri agencies, is anchored on the translation of the resulting declarations/statements into concrete programming, strategies, mechanisms, and actions that will allow the CSOs to have concrete handles of the global commitments to concrete results and outcomes, as seen in the improvement of the lives of the rural communities and sectors.
Ms. Ramirez explained that AsiaDHRRA saw this meeting as an opportunity to further its effort, together with fellow regional CSOs, many of whom are participating, of finding better ways of engaging FAO, especially at this time where more effective responses to the enormous challenge of food insecurity in the region, compounded by the recent global financial crisis and the growing concern for climate change, have to be put together.
Ms. Ramirez said she is glad to share the perspective of 35 others who joined this consultation, in knowing that “we have to be part of the solution to what we think is wrong or weak in the processes of civil society engagement with FAO.” In behalf of the participants, she thanked FAO-RAP for their openness to engage CSOs and in collaboration with FAO-OCEP, for facilitating this process
in the coming days.
Finally, Ms. Ramirez noted appreciation of the fact that a good number of basic sector representatives have joined and that there is representation from the Asian stakeholders in the just concluded Global Farmers Forum (GFF) supported by IFAD, hence giving this process the possibility of integrating some of the key action points from the GFF to the regional FAO process. This relates to the CSO’s call for the various UN food and agricultural agencies to continue to converge and find coherence in their strategies and actions, especially at the national and regional levels, she added.
Introduction and Sharing of Expectations
The facilitator, Ms. Carmela Ariza, initiated the participants to a round of introductions and sharing of expectations per organization. After a short buzz sessions among representatives of the same organizations, the following:
Mr. Glenn Ymata, head of the SEAFISH Secretariat, said they would like to be oriented more on processes of CSO engagement with FAO.
Mr. Nathaniel Don Marquez, Executive Director of ANGOC, would like to receive clear updates from FAO in terms of its process particularly in the move towards its decentralization, and to set realistic target with the CSOs for engaging the regional FAO.
Ms. Jessica Reyes-Cantos, Convenor of East Asia Rice Working Group, related it was their second chance to participate in a FAO-related event where they observed much enthusiasm for those themes responding to the food crisis. She shared that a lot of regional cooperation and paradigm reexamination has to be put on the table, which might be “a tough act considering that we are CSOs and FAO might have different ways of looking at things.” She said it will be nice to touch base with colleagues that have regional partners, and to have a quick scan of what’s happening in the region. She is aware that this event is a pre-consultation meeting, and that she has heard informally about the Committee on Food Security from Noel de Luna. Finally, Ms. Reyes-Cantos said they would like to see how FAO will position itself in the global trade development.
Mr. Gilbert Sabe, Consultant of the Pesticide Action Network – Regional Centres based in Malaysia, related that PANAP is part of the International Planning Committee (IPC) of the FAO. He expects to get updates on the FAO process in terms of what is happening now on efforts related to food security –for instance, voluntary guidelines on the right to food, issue of land rights, and prospects on climate change and biotechnology meeting in Mexico. They also expect to be involved in the development of the regional meeting and identify participants who should be part of the process.
Mr. Dante Dalabajan, Oxfam GB Campaigns Officer and Economic Justice Programme for Oxfam International, who is from Palawan, an activist and an academic who has worked with IPs, small farmers groups and fishers, shared that he would like to enrich his understanding of the hunger and poverty dimension of tenure, fisheries management, and land use. For Oxfam, the expectation is to make this opportunity focus on food security (which is the focal campaign of Oxfam this year), and see how the process could inform Oxfam’s programming given the WTO process looming in the background.
Mr. Aftab Alam Khan, International Coordinator of Action Aid International, said that AAI had worked with FAO on several occasions, including the meeting in Bellagio where they had an initial consultation on CFS. He said it is time to start thinking of how civil society can make best use of it, and also be part of agenda setting around regional consultation in Korea. This can also be an opportunity for CSOs to learn and share from each other. Mr. Khan said that this great opportunity provided by FAO and AsiaDHRRA is different from others in that is allows the CSOs a separate process months before the actual consultation.
Mr. Denisson Anil Jose, Asia Coordinator for International Movements of Catholic Agricultural and Rural Youth, said their organization has a good relation with FAO, ILO, UNESCO. He said that as youth thinking about the future, they expect to know from this consultation about how to strengthen relations with FAO and how to lobby for common issues. He added he would like to learn a little more about food security and about how the opportunities are actually getting good results.
Mr. Vicente Fabe, Executive Committee member of the Asian Farmers’ Association (AFA), would like to hear some updates from FAO and information on how farmers can participate in its processes. He hopes the consultation would lead to a concrete plan and structures for the participation of the small farmers.
Mr. Lakshman Dass Ahuja, Officer-on-Special Duty of the National Cooperative Union of India (NEDAC), would like to be oriented about how cooperatives can be involved in addressing hunger issues and finding solutions to it.
Mr. Patrick Schroeder, International Advisor of the China Association for NGO Cooperation (CANGO) which hosts the Secretariat for China Action Network, would like to make a link between climate adaptation, water security and food security, and to understand how China’s food security is linked with Asian Food security.
Ms. Luisita Esmao of LAKAMBINI-PAKISAMA and WOCAN partner, said they would like to see the rural women’s calls adopted, in addition to having the role of rural women defined and seen in plans and processes that are done by the FAO.
Ms. Lorenza Daguitan, Staff of the Pilot Project on Ecosystems-based Approach of Tebtebba Philippines, would like to know what is happening in FAO to enable Tebtebba to make commitments to the process. She also would like to see the output of the conference implemented on the ground.
Ms. Alice Raymundo, Regional Coordinator of the Asia Pacific Network on Food Sovereignty, would like to see what’s new in the FAO CFS reform process. She is interested to find out how to strengthen CSO participation in the FAO and how this can better address our regional and global problems.
Ms Jacqueline Haessiq Alleje, World Board Member of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) related that IFOAM has been closely working with FAO. She is interested in further finding out what strategies can be effective in enabling to empower the people in the immediate. She said she is glad to see FAO have the energy and determination for internal reform process, and she is happy to see FAO seeking the wisdom of CSOs. She hopes that this consultation will enable the CSOs to find mechanisms for appropriate representation, and ways to empower people that could be valuable in the process who may not have the mechanism to participate. She further expects that FAO would assist efforts in developing organic agriculture technologies.
Mr. Hassan Khan, Trustee of Pacific Islands association of NGOs (PIANGO) hopes to develop a more meaningful and working partnership between FAO and PIANGO member organizations. Eventually, they would like to work towards a specific island-CSO consultation on food security and actions at the community level. They also would like to have greater rural women’s participation in Asia and the Pacific meetings, and more simplified and CSO-friendly process of engagement with FAO.
Mr. Famark Hlawnching, Chairperson of the Asian Indigenous Peoples’ Pact, expressed that is very important to consider human rights-based approach to development when addressing food security, especially in relation to climate change. Equally important, he said, is ensuring justice to maintain peace and respect for human dignity, the development of guidelines to human rights-based approach, and the development of a specific policy on indigenous peoples. He expects the creation of a separate consultation process for them. He hopes to find other ways for the IPs to effectively participate in their processes.
Mrs. Irma Yanny, farmer member of Indonesian Peasant Union in La Via Campasina and a member of its regional Secretariat said that they would like to get involved with FAO at international level. She related that they are aware of the FAO process but would still like to get clarification and updates on how the small farmers can be involved in the process and immediately in the Asian Consultation in Korea. She affirmed that most of the increases in the hungry people are in the rural areas, worse because people no longer work in the farms. She asserted that food sovereignty needs to be recognized and implemented.
Ms. Erlinda Angeles, FFF Provincial President and IFAP Member, said she hopes to know the roles provided for the small farmers in consultation, and what FAO and other experts can do for the development of the rural areas.
Ms. Sally Bulatao, IFAP Member and FFF Project Adviser, said they have been studying documents in the reform of the CSOs, and would like to participate in trying not to have a more tragic achievement of having more hungry people in the world. She would like to see within the FAO structure a high level panel of farmers to ensure that the farmers are at the center of development. This high-level panel of farmers will be parallel to the panel of experts, who will give the reality check and who will ensure that the attention and perspectives are balanced and grounded.
Mr. Ferdinand Paguia, of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council Planning Office, Department of Agriculture, would like to be informed of how credit institutions are doing in other parts of the world and how they figure in the solutions to feed the hungry. He said it is ironic that the ones who are producing the food for others are also the ones going hungry.
Ms. Felomina H. Duka, DAMPA Secretary-General and Huairou Commission partner, said she would like to understand processes in agreements in FAO, especially the urban-rural linkage discussions in terms of food security. Further, she would like to know the mechanisms for involvement in the discussions in food security.
Mr. Katsuji Matsunami, Advisor, Office of the Director General, Regional & Sustainable Development Department of the Asian Development Bank, would want to get a handle of how the NGOs and CSOs see the food security goal. Furthermore, he would like for FAO to explain how it is leading the reform – the development of global governance structure, the link between global and local initiatives, and how this will be designed. He would like to know more about the priority agenda, the specific roles that CSOs are thinking to play, what they plan to do to make this happen given the government in-between. As well, he also would like to answer questions about the ADB that the participants may raise during the consultation.
Mr. Diderik deVleeschauwer, FAO RAP Information Officer, said FAO considers the CSOs as strategic partners and has recently initiated serious reforms aimed inter alia at more inclusive approaches. The details for the new arrangements are part of an immediate plan of action which is under implementation but will take at least another 2-4 years to be completed. This process of change is work in progress and NGOs/CSOs are offered a space for expressing their own plans with regards to setting their agenda and priorities. He said FAO is here to listen, share, walk our talk, and link to the ground.
Presentation of Meeting Objectives and Responses to Expectations
Mr. Price made a presentation of the overall and specific objectives of the consultation. Please refer to Annex 6 Concept Note: FAO Civil Society Regional Consultation on Food Security in Asia and Pacific Region.
He noted participants’ expectations of continuous follow-up as fundamental to do the dialogue process. In particular, bringing the regional processes into the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) will be an important step in thus process. He expressed his hopes that more thoughts and proposals on this would arise during the course of the discussions, i.e., on specific partnerships, information sharing, areas of debate, joint action plans with time lines, who will be responsible for what, which organizations will be involved, considerations on resources and cost of participation.
Mr. Price responded to some of the expectations mentioned by participants, highlighting the need to continue to find ways to communicate in the future on specific debates and developments within FAO – for example, on organic agriculture and how to make production systems worldwide sustainable. While FAO’s mandate is first to serve its member governments, there is the need to pay attention on what is happening on the ground with all actors. With regard to trade-related issues, he said they will have to look for expertise and advise on some specific areas. He explained that the Committee on World Food Security is the major mechanism for the UN agencies to address our common future concerns on food security.
Session 1: Current Context
Mr. Price, in discussing the policy context, noted that instutions should be organized in response to challenges. In this regard, he affirmed that governments have not put priority and on agriculture and the rural sector. On climate change, several issues arise. How do producers adapt and react to it, and mitigate its effects? What new techniques and technology are necessary? What’s best for small holders and urban groups? What are the implications of demographic change? What are the implications of the changes in demand patterns for food and biofuel? These, he said, are all very closely related to land access and land use. How can the global community, international financial institutions react to these challenges?
Mr. Price related that FAO is working more and more as part of the one UN system. FAO has to establish mechanisms to collaborate with CSOs not as clients but primarily as allies. He added that precedents have been built - the World Food Summit, International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ICAARD),– where CSOs have been robustly and well represented. But, he added, there is often a gap in implementation and translating this into regional agenda and output. He related that field level FAO works systematically in many parts of the world but approaches and relations are diverse. The challenge, he observed, is to make collaboration with CSOs more corporate across the system, more systematic, regular, sustained, and more regional and local. Mr. Hlwanching raised the question of how to make a permanent mechanism for IPs participation in FAO processes.
Mr. Marquez asked about FAO’s direction to decentralize at the region through its regional offices.
Mr. Matsunami asked whether the continuous engagement with CSOs will become a permanent part of FAO’s global governance or not.
Mr. Price responded that there are very specific mechanisms within FAO for responding to IPs concerns,and there has not been a general way of looking at IPs as a group. He said they are in the process of looking for such a mechanism. He added it is unlikely that they will be able to create a new mechanism specific to RPs within FAO, but can capitalize on the one already existing within the UN system through thr UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UN PFII). On the question of FAO regionalization, Mr. Price clarified that there will be no other regional office in Asia except the one in Bangkok. The regional office will be organized into major thematic areas and the sub-regional coordination officer in the Pacific Islands, given the specific geographic challenges there. Mr. Price addressed Mr. Matsunami by extending bilaterally working together between FAO and the ADB. He said that FAO is working in the direction of having a permanent mechanism for CSO participation in global governance through the CFS, and toward this, would like to work with other institutions as closely as possible for complementarity, and to keep everyone well-informed.
Mr. Khan cautioned everyone in projecting the food price crisis as already over, as it remains strongly felt in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and the Philippines, and especially worsened by the widespread drought in this period. Mr. Ahuja asked if FAO has any deliberate policy and international support on cooperatives in addressing the issues of food security and climate change to take the issue to the ground level. Ms. Daguitan observed the lack of mention in the policy context of chemical inputs in farming and of mono-cropping on the worsening of climate change, as well as the unfair trade relations that have caused much hunger among rural communities.
Mr. Price clarified his statement about the food crisis, indicating that there had been sudden increases in prices in 2007 followed by persistent volatility in prices and supply, with the consequences that prices to consumer have remained high. It has had a very negative effect. The problem of availability of affordable food remains while the supply issues are a different set of problem. The UN recognizes there is a continuing food crisis, thus the mechanism for it through the High Level Task Force (HLTF) and now the CFS.
Mr. Tsurumi further added that the price of rice from February to April has been particularly high and remained unchanged through the third quarter, but the cost of production has also been very high.
Mr. Price, on the other hand, responded that there are departments within FAO that deal with trade agreements and regional economic policies. On the matter of chemical agriculture and monocropping, he urged participants to look at IAASTD findings. Conducted by 450 experts worldwide, it makes pronouncements that are extremely favorable to diversified agro-ecological system. He added, “We have to provide the very best information and encourage the widest possible debate”. He added that a number of member countries have not signed on to the final recommendation. It is necessary to look at production in various ways and not just to encourage particular interest groups in any society.
Mr. Mata asked FAO about how it does its scoping work, and its approach to fisheries. Is it ecosystem based, regional fishery management unit, or by geographical division? One participant asked about FAO’s position on price speculation. Another participant asked about the commitment of FAO in terms of promoting the IAASTD– especially since it has been controversial and unacceptable to some. Ms. Alleje shared that the organic community has been very happy about the IAASTD document, but she has the impression that FAO has been rather timid in applying changes in paradigm and in giving policy recommendations to government. She added that especially in a crisis situation, “Sometimes we have to be more courageous in asserting to governments.”
On the issue of price speculation, Mr. Price responded that FAO’s position is that it is not a unique cause of the crisis. On fisheries, he clarified that the approach has been geographical rather than on an ecosystem basis, following how the regional fisheries bodies approach marine, coastal, and fisheries issues, with the exception of the deep seas where actual international bodies (that have strong CSO participation) work on specific ecosystems. He added that within FAO there shall always be diversity - some may argue for monocropping while some others finally support diversified agriculture. Therefore, “I appeal to you to continue pushing us,” to remain open and welcoming contradicting ideas and a wide range of groups.
Session II: Stocktaking and Assessment of CSO Participation in FAO Processes
The facilitator, Ms. Ariza, asked the participants to answer the following questions based on their organizational experiences:
What FAO events have your group been engaged or invited?
What were the positive and negative experiences of CSOs in these events?
Which contributions from civil society made these events a success?
What could have been done better?
What has FAO done well in the process?
What governments did well/not so well?
If your organization has not been invited, explain why.
The participants divided into four groups (1) Indigenous People and Women, (2) Youth, (3) Farmers and Fisheries and (4) Multisectoral and resumed to make presentation in the plenary. Please refer to Annex7 for the Consolidated Matrix of the Workshop Results.
Ms. Ariza solicited the participants’ observations of patterns, trends, commonalities in terms of CSO engagement based on the group reports. She started by observing that one common area mentioned by almost all groups is the need to strengthen follow-up mechanisms and to converge agreements into actions before meeting again next. Another is the observation that many actions have not been taken up by the member-states.
Ms. Alleje observed that the CSOs have to empower themselves in the process of consultation with CSOs to influence other states and not to burden the FAO alone, as sometimes FAO is hostage to their own member states. The CSOs have an obligation to think of ways how to help and empower FAO realize the reform agenda. She encouraged a further brainstorming on how to design governance issues and roles.
Ms. Bulatao, on the other hand said that she would prefer to put less emphasis on follow-up and more emphasis on awareness and knowledge-building, specifically showcasing what is happening on the ground and in the villages. The CSOs and FAO hopefully will focus more on these incremental experiences every time they meet and learn something new whenever they come together. She encouraged the CSOs to bring to the table not just reports on the declaration but also on what’s working well for their work at the ground level.
Mr. Matsunami said that having heard what CSOs found from FAO in terms of what they thought they got and did not get, he would like to know the thinking from the other side. That is, “what we (the IGOs) want from CSOs and what we couldn’t get.” He said it is always good to get together and learn from one another, be given a reality check, be reminded of the right thing to do. The vacuum, he observed, is in that things happening on the ground is not happening as rapidly as we thought. He asked, “Why is this so? What is the vacuum—is it a matter of follow up at the national level, governance structure, or others?”
Ms. Ramirez observed that maybe there is not enough investment in knowing what’s really happening on the ground, so the challenge is not really about decentralizing only, but also in investing in knowing what exists. Another point raised in the reports is the need to highlight the participation of farmers groups. Maybe FAO should also consider supporting the regionalization of the Farmers Forum (FAFO) process which is pro-actively facilitated by IFAD at global level. The Steering Committee members of the FAFO are well represented in this consultation.
Mr. Marquez observed that there are different experiences with FAO, and there may be a need to level off in getting a clearer sense of what FAO could realistically do. In terms of global architecture, there are other structures and FAO cannot fully respond to all the issues raised. Maybe question is: What could be the role of FAO in responding to those global structures that impact on food security? And the second question would be: What could be the role of FAO in pushing government to make priorities accordingly?
Mr. de Vleeschauwer observed the existence of disconnects between the global and the regional, and the regional and national mechanisms. He added that FAO’s technical expertise must be complemented by CSO’s knowledge and representation of the household level realities. He encouraged a further analysis on how to bring these two together.
Mr. Price noted that the private sector has been identified as causing the problem of land grabs, but the sovereign wealth funds have also focuses on land acquisitions. This is documented for example in a joint FAO, IFAD and International Institute for Environmental and Development IIED publication “Land grabs or development opportunity?” Domination can be not only north to south but also south and south. He added countries are creating environments where thousands of hectors of land can be taken away from farmers and given to investors. FAO’s role through the development of voluntary guidelines on land tenure is for governments to make informed discussions and reorganize the consequences of their policies for the viability of rural commodities and the sustainability of agriculture.
Session III: Mapping of CSO Mechanisms on Food Security
The facilitator provided a template for the mapping of CSO mechanisms on food security which included
(1) Existing global and regional mechanisms;
(2) Links to national mechanisms; and
(3) Plans for years 2010 to 2011. Workshop groups of indigenous Peoples, Rural Women, Youth, Farmers, Fisherfolk, Multisectoral convened for an hour, followed by reporting and plenary discussion.
Please refer to Annex 7 for Consolidated Matrix of Workshop Results.
On the report of the youth group, Ms. Ramirez clarified if there is relationship between International Movements of Catholic Agricultural and Rural Youth (MIJARC) and the rural youth sectors of La Via Campesina (La Via). She further asked about who would MIJARC’s partners be in the Southeast Asian Region who might be able to fill in the seemingly absence of a strong rural youth sector. Mr. Anil responded that they have very good contacts with La Via at the global level and they get materials mainly from them, but there is not much collaboration at the regional level and not much contact at the national levels. He added they will have to improve our relations with youth organizations regionally.
On the report of the IP group, a participant suggested to make links with the Asia Pacific IP Youth Forum. Ms. dela Rosa asked if they have been invited to the IFAD Farmer’s Forum. Mr. Hlawnching said he didn’t think so. Ms. dela Rosa said the recent Farmer’s Forum outcome has implications for youth cross-cutting with farmers, women and IPs. Mr. Price mentioned a process for IP consultations and the need to make sure that the IP processes are integrated and not compartmentalized.
On the report of the farmers groups, Ms. Ramirez made the comment that the workshop seem to have focused more on the agenda / activities of each organization but missed out seeing the points where the mechanisms and platforms intersect. Ms. Alleje affirmed this observation but noted the discussion of the group to maximize the potential of information technology for coordination. FAO, she said, was suggested to make websites that will make available experiences and stories available for brainstorm outside.
Ms. Bulatao observed that the last two reports show us there’s a need to simplify this overload of institutions and mechanisms. She clarified she is not saying these institutions are useless, but there is need to simplify just to know what’s important. Otherwise, she added, the CSOs will keep going from meeting to meeting feeling overwhelmed and confused.
Mr. Marquez said that without debating the need to simplify, he would like to point to the reality that it is not always possible to bring all the groups into just one or two platforms. More than simplification, finding coherence maybe what is needed somehow.
Ms. Ramirez affirms the need to simplify and converge, therefore it would be interesting to see the agenda then find coherence to make sure the priorities are really targeted.
Ms. dela Rosa suggested, for further research, a list serve of achievements of the mechanisms mentioned that were not fully heard and articulated in the reports. Always, she added, the question from FAO’s side is: What have been achieved, and what have been the impacts of these mechanisms on the ground?
Ms. Alleje made the “one simple recommendation” to get small farmers more directly involved in FAO’s processes. She added that the very important stakeholders may not have their own resources to participate and must be given preferential option and support.
Session IV: FAO and other IGOs Existing Instruments for CSO Participation
Mr. Chris Morris, Head of NGO and Civil Society Center Regional and Sustainable Development Department of the ADB discussed how the ADB is mainstreaming CSO participation in its various operations, and elaborated on the NGO Civil Society Center as a structural window specifically designed for ADB’s interaction with civil society. Please See Annex 8 for the PowerPoint presentation.
Mr. Thomas Price discussed openings for CSO participation in FAO’s overall governing structures at the Council, the CFS and at the regional levels. Mr. Price related that agreements reached during the last World Summit on Food Security Summit last November is being pursued in the CFS reform discussion which now include representatives from CSOs. While some member states feel some hesitant about this development, there are some that have called for a more active participation and one of the basic decisions has been for the CSOs to have the right to participate at the same level as the governments in discussions at the CFS meetings. There are issues to address to make this really happen, thus an advisory body has been put together for the CFS reform process.
Mr. Diderik de Vleeshauwer, FAO-RAP Information Officer, further identified opportunities and spaces for CSO participation available in the regional conferences, ministerial meetings, parallel meetings where a much larger group can attend, and Asia-Pacific regional commissions (animal health and production, fisheries, forestry, plant protection). He said the one big change happening in the reform process is the more inclusive approach to governance of food security. He extended a brainstorming session with CSOs to find more effective ways to make this happen, as well as to identify more concrete proposals to improve CSO participation in the FAO. Mr. Vieeschauwer noted that FAO has been the birthplace – and current host – of quite a number of regional networks such as Asia Pacific Association of Agricultural Research (APAARI), Asia Pacific Rural and Agriculrural Credit Association (APRACA), Agricultural and Food Marketing Association for Asia and the Pacific (AFMA), and NEDAC, and is increasingly involved in regional partnerships with other IGOs – such as IFAD, ADB, Association of Southeast Asian Networks (ASEAN) and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) – and (I)NGOs in Asia as well as the Pacific subregion.
The plenary sessions revealed affirmation and expressions of appreciation of these positive developments in the FAO and the ADB, as well as some issues and concerns. How to manage information overload and how to define constituencies and representation of the varied CSO groups (i.e. can there be more CSO representatives than member-states?) were put forward as challenges that might be addressed by putting up a more permanent CSO forum that is hopefully mainstreamed into the IGO structures. The CSOs further stressed the critical importance of being well-represented in the regional bodies in addition to ensuring that the regional discussions function as effective inputs to all global governance discussions. In particular, FAO was requested to make use of the initial drafts prepared by the CSOs on their representation to the CFS, to be presented to the Bureau in October. The side events in October, as well as the rest of the side events convened along governance meetings, have been noted as equally important spaces for bringing up the outcomes of CSO’s regional processes especially since the multi-stakeholder CSO forum may not yet happen during the CFS itself.
PROCEEDINGS, DAY 2: FEBRUARY 25, 2010
Synthesis of Day One
Ms. Rebagay started the day with a brief recollection of the discussions that transpired on the first day. Given the goal to achieve food security, the CSOs identified issues and concerns that present serious challenges to hunger eradication. These included food price crisis, land grab, climate change, unfair trade agreements, ineffective management of regional commons (fishery management, forestry), food governance, and unsustainable production systems. At the same time, dynamic and community-based local initiatives on resource management, self-help groups / cooperative-building, agricultural enterprise development and the like continue to grow on the ground. To upstream these stories of successes, the CSOs would like to enhance knowledge-building processes, documentation, and popularization. In addition, the CSOs would like to strengthen mechanisms at various levels given that simultaneous platforms have occurred with seeming lack of integration and coherence. Hopefully, all these would enable the CSOs to move toward a more constructive engagement with government and IGOs to yield concrete, specific policy gains which the rural sectors could hopefully begin to feel as making a positive, real impact on their lives. Please see Annex 9 for the PowerPoint Presentation of Recap of Day One.
Session V: Priority Thematic Issues to Make Food Security Happen
For a more informed planning process, Mr. de Vleeshauwer gave a presentation of FAO’s goals and priority areas for action in the Asia Pacific region. For the first priority, strengthening food and nutrition security, the specific aim is to eradicate hunger, malnutrition and poverty by 2050 thru the assertion of the right to food, the promotion of integrated, food-based strategies, and with a special emphasis on rural women and children. FAO’s global 1BillionHungry-communication campaign will underpin this first priority area through the mobilization of political will and investments. Second priority concentrates on agricultural production and productivity with special reference to rural labour. It involves regional actions on standards and regulation for agribusiness and inclusive agribusiness development. The third priority – reducing degradation of natural resources and reaching sustainable levels of management and utilization – aims to develop broad consensus on increasing water productivity, and conserving genetic resources and biodiversity. For the third priority, improved capacity to respond to food and agriculture threats and emergencies, the interventions include emergency response, early warning and rehabilitation, and improved resilience and preparedness. The fifth priority, which is climate change and impacts on agriculture and food and nutrition security, is about making farming more resilient and achieving a more balanced approach to biofuels. Please refer to previois Annex 5 for his PowerPoint presentation.
Mr. Raul Socrates Banzuela of the Asian Farmers’ Association (AFA) elaborated on the significant role played by women in rural Asia, and the measures needed to prioritize them in the current programs and actions for climate change issues and concerns. Please See Annex 10 for his PowerPoint presentation.
Mr. Marquez of the Asian NGO Coalition (ANGOC) provided inputs on the centrality of land reform in the struggle for food security of farmers in Asia. He mentioned the proposal to follow-up ICARRD proposal on CFS as some of these have not really taken off. He shared the concern that ICARRD is still not in the agenda of the forthcoming conference in Korea. He emphasized that the support for the strengthening of farmers’ struggle for control of and access to land is an on-going political act. Therefore, ‘we cannot rest,” he added.
Ms. Daguitan volunteered some additional information on unsustainable production system as it impacts on communities. Their research output in Ifugao province showed that 20 food crops have been eroded in the shifting from diversified to monocrop cultivation. Around 32 million pesos have been spent on agrochemical inputs costing the loss of jobs for thousands of Ifugao farmers. The harmonious balance has been significantly lost.
Ms. Ramirez inquired about the ASEAN-FAO Conference on the AIFFS (ASEAN Integrated Framework of Food Security) in May 2009, if there were any follow through actions from FAO side. She said their sense is that ASEAN is waiting for signals or technical assistance from the FAO-RAP office on how to go about with it. She added that CSOs came up with very good recommendations during the conference and these were taken up in the official report but they have not heard of any follow-up since then.
Mr. de Vleeschauwer related that he shares this concern with Ms. Ramirez. He clarified that policy dialogue with ASEAN allows possible champions at regional level to further develop capacities, and felt that civil society is increasingly calling for technical assistance and other forms of concrete action on the ground.
Ms. Yanny asked about how the farmers can make a follow-up on the issues of land grab and biofuels. In response, Mr. de Vleeschauwer related that the FAO position on biofuels has developed over the years and now advocates more balanced approaches including the need for new technologies. He also confirmed that FAO capacities to support agrarian reforms at the regional level have been reduced as a result of relevant governing body decisions. Less resource has been programmed in FAO for this, he added. On the other hand, civil society in the region has increasingly demonstrated its own capacities in this regard.
Working Group Session on Thematic Priorities and Reporting
The facilitator flashed on the screen a list of the themes and issues emerging from the previous day’s discussions. These included:
Food price crisis (speculation, biofuel, etc)
Access and control over productive resources (e.g. land, water, etc)
Unfair trade agreements
ineffective management of regional commons
forestry (mining, etc)
Food and Agriculture Governance (participation of small-holder producer; consumer)
Please refer to Annex 7 Consolidated Matrix of Workshop Results.
Ms. Alleje gave the reminder that one of the main concerns raised in this consultation is sustainable production systems.
Ms. dela Rosa observed there can be as many overlapping themes as possible but what is important is for the participants to come to an agreement on the way to organize their work.
Mr. Marquez suggested making an agreement on the priority areas and the general plan at the regional level first, before tackling the thematic areas.
Ms. Bulatao expressed support for the earlier suggestion made by Mr. Marquez to go back to discussing the regional agenda first. She explained that even the themes identified by the group need to be more focused “for the ministers to listen to us.” She related the concern that two years is not a long time, so that there is a need to look at things that are almost there that needs only one last push. She agrees with the themes but hopes the proposals can be more specific to allow for more focusing in the regional work that will happen. As long as there is clarity and focus in the list of priorities, it will be more easily achieved no matter who among them makes the push and in whatever platform or venue available.
Ms. Ariza added the suggestion by Mr. Marquez to put indicators to the plan.
Ms. Alleje said it woud indeed be nice to agree on the priorities, and it may help to know: Which are the burning points? On the other hand, she said, the advantage of thematic approach is it allows us to come together even as our priorities differ.
Ms. Daguitan suggested clustering the following themes into one: food price crisis (speculation, biofuel, etc), unfair trade agreements, food and agriculture governance (which is about the participation of small producers in the governance of food production and trade).
Mr. Banzuela expressed his agreement to the proposal to prioritize, and further urged the group to begin preparing for Korea. He added that sooner or later, some of them will have to coalesce around issues but given time limit today, he suggested going back to the groups they had yesterday and zero in on the important event in Korea.
Ms. dela Rosa presented a template for planning, and a clarification of the definition of “mechanisms,” “process” and “systems” to aid the discussion. (Please see Annex 11 for the Workshop Template.)
Mr. Sape commented, on the planning framework, that it would be quite a challenge to identify anchor organizations. He explained that, “Ideally, we want organizations to work together but in reality, it is different. He added that it may be more realistic to just list down NGOs / mechanisms working on he issues.
Mr. Banzuela proposed to re-convene the group based on previous sectoral groupings to build on yesterday’s output. It was difficult, too, to choose grouping by theme as these all fall within their interests and concerns.
At this point the participants broke up into sectoral groupings (with the rural women and youth, farmers and indigenous peoples combining into one group) for the workshop. They presented their plans to the plenary after an hour. Their reports consisted of the sectors’ goals and priorities, objectives, level, processes, mechanisms, activities, time frame, organizations involved and their linkages, time frame, and material and financial resources needed. Please see Annex 7 Consolidated Matrix for Workshop Results.
In the plenary discussion, Ms. Yanny asked Mr. Mata who presented the fisherfolk plan of action about their main goals or agenda. Mr. Mata said they hope to promote global fisheries management in light of global and regional challenges, and balance development and management aspects.
Mr. Mata said that since it is their first engagement with FAO, he is not really sure how to respond yet. He said they should have an internal process within their network first but definitely they would like to work with FAO so they can draw in all sectors in the fisheries. Mr. Mata said they will be sending communications to FAO around next month.
Ms. Ramirez observed that some of SEAFISH’s agenda are actually inter-phasing with the Global Farmers’ Forum. She said given the track of GFF to regionalize, SEAFISH could actually become part of the regional forum. Mr. Mata said they are very open to this possibility but he still needs to get a consensus within their sectors so that they can speak as one once they get involved.
On the report of the Women and Indigenous Peoples, Mr. Marquez asked if there is indeed a specific recommendation to include agenda item on women in the Korea APRC. Ms. Alleje confirmed that there is. Ms. Alleje also forwarded the question of who will host the social movement that will be formed. In response, Ms. Ramirez shared there are opportunities and resources available in the IFAD project on FO Strengthening under the subregional platform building, but its priorities will be decided by a project board representing FOs.
Session VI: The Way Forward
Mr. de Vleeschauwer urged the group to be more practical and think concretely of a timeline to 2012. What are you going to present to the ministers? How are you going to push for it? He suggested the CSO groups to consider these practical questions too.
Mr. Price, in response to a query on upcoming regional opportunities, mentioned the following: the 30th APRC Conference in September in the Republic of Korea, and the Investment Forum and Marketplace to be jointly organized by ADB, IFAD, and FAO.
In response to the query about the agenda in Korea, Mr. de Vleeschauwer indicated that at present the following items are under consideration for the agenda, while emphasizing consultations with member governments are still to proceed before decisions can be made on the agenda: Sept 27-29 – Senior officers to consider technical papers on climate change, food and financial crisis, increasing crop production, and strategies for disaster preparedness; 30 Sept to 1 October – follow-up to the Summit on World Food Security and FAO’s Conference, reform of the CFS; report on FAO activities in 2008-09, and implementation of the 2010-2011 programme, and regional strategic framework; RTD from declaration to actions: follow-up to L’Aquila and the Summit. In addition, the organization of parallel events is still under consideration. In response to Mr. Marquez’ query about the status of the agenda, Mr. de Vleeschauwer responded that it is not already fixed or final. Specifically, he said agrarian reform is not in the agenda. He added that those who would like to pursue the establishment of a farmers’ forum at the regional level within the next two years should start an advocacy campaign now.
Mr. Marquez suggested for a more detailed planning up to Sept, and a more general plan of up to 2012.
Mr. Sape asked, “Given the reforms taking place now, how would the regional conference differ?”
Mr. de Vleeschauwer responded that the regional conferences are now part of FAO governance, and thus have become a body in which countries have oversight of FAO’s programme of work and budget. He added that FAO is also further delegating authority to country, subregional and regional offices. CSOs should thus approach FAO country and regional offices for matters pertaining to FAO funding for technical assistance such as the TCP resources. At the same time, he indicated that it is still general practice that requests for FAO assistance need to be received from relevant government agents. NGOs should take this into account when planning to approach FAO for assistance.
Mr. Khan who had to leave shortly for his flight urged for an e-discussion process, a forum or list-serve that they can access, as they want to be involved in all of the future activities.
In response to a query from the multisectoral workshop group, Mr. Price said there will be support for civil society participation for the CSO consultation in Korea, and suggested, “as far as possible, you can set up a steering committee or a focal group.”
Mr. de Vleeschauwer further suggested that CSOs should make preparations not only before the regional events, but also during and after it. He suggested CSOs formulate a proposal by September if they want a change in status as observer within the next two years. He clarified that constitutional issue though cannot be changed as soon as September, and encouraged civil society to engage in advocacy over the coming years. He furthermore added that CSOs should urgently submit suggestions before the end of this month if they want to include specific items on the agenda. In response to the query on resources, he indicated that CSOs might consider a proposal to set aside a certain portion of the regional TCP for CSO requirements.
Finally, Mr de Vleeschauwer suggested that a representative from civil society should visit the Republic of Korea at the same time as the next APRC preparatory mission by FAO. This would allow for close consultations by all parties concerned and facilitate an early agreement on arrangements for the organization of a civil society consultation in conjunction with the APRC. He also clarified that CSOs might consider planning for a side event at the venue of the APRC, and indicated that relevant proposals should be communicated to FAO-RAP in Bangkok soonest.
Mr. Marquez listed the following initial proposals: follow-up on ICARRD; women and small farmers as overall approach; and on the side events, CSO forum particularly on women and maybe 2 other themes. He said he would like to request the head of the FAO regional office to send letters to FAO Asia-Pacific member countries about the outcome of this present FAO civil society consultation and invite further national dialogues.
In response to a query about the technical papers, Mr. de Vleeschauwer informed the group it might be too late now to request the preparation by the FAO secretariat of additional agenda item documents to become part of conference papers, but FAO has always been liberal with regard to CSOs distributing copies of posters and other documents.
Mr. Price further clarified that the change in CSO status in regards to participation is a process that will take time and that will not yet happen in September. He said the CSOs will have an opportunity on the agenda items to present their views as observers, or to have their member countries as champion their statements.
Ms. dela Rosa further made the suggestion to make an immediate identification of common resources working on complementarity between women and indigenous peoples, for example.
At this point, the facilitator posed the following questions: What does the group want to do? Do you want to do a plenary or assign a group to look into the six reports carefully? Who will do it and when?
Mr. Banzuela proposed AsiaDHRRA to anchor the next steps and was seconded by Mr. Khan.
Mr. Sape said AsiaDHRRA could continue to work as secretariat, but still a working group is needed. He added that we need to be clear on the content itself because it will allow us to become flexible in others. And therefore we need some inputs. As long as there is trust and clarity on the content, it is possible to pass the work of fine tuning to an Ad hoc Steering Committee.
Mr. Sape also expressed that he is still unclear about the value of the plan document – i.e. would it be for the next two years or for Korea?
Ms. Ramirez agreed with the suggestion that a broader working group will facilitate a more inclusive process. The secretariat now has a Term of Reference to submit a conference report to FAO. From this report, a separate document will be prepared to start-off the discussions of the Ad Hoc Committee in preparation for Korea APRC.
Some of the participants suggested to form the Ad Hoc Steering Committee now and let them then decide on the time frame. The selection of the members of this committee must consider equal representation by sector and geography.
The participants agreed to hold a brief caucus among the sectoral groupings. Upon resumption of the plenary, the following were chosen to consist the Ad Hoc Steering Committee: PIANGO, CANGO, PAN-AP, APNFS, ANGOC, AsiaDHRRA, IFAP, La Via, AFA AIPP, NEDAC, SEAFISH, AAI. AsiaDHRRA accepted the task of providing secretariat support to the working group.
Reflections and Evaluation of the Meeting
The conference was drawn to a close collectively by the participants by their imparting of messages each in three words. Thus the parting messages “dreams and commitment,” “put ME to action,” ‘Let’s do it,” “Walk the talk,” “Go and do it (jai ho!),” “advance sustainable agriculture,” “thank you for the opportunity,” “It is good”, “make them happen,” “happy, inspired, certain,” “effective, efficient, inspired,” ‘put it on the earth,” “globalize struggle, globalize hope” “Food first, farmers first,” “I have a dream,” “end hunger now,” “Build our CSO Community in Asia-Pacific”, and “be ambitious for Korea and beyond.”
Ms. Marlene Ramirez, Secretary General of AsiaDHRRA, expressed appreciation for the goodwill in everyone that allowed the group to move significantly forward. Mr. Price, Mr. de Vleeshauwer, Ms. dela Rosa of FAO also expressed their appreciation for the open and honest discussions, and encouraged the CSOs to “keep pushing us” and to set their aims high in the immediate processes that will follow.