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Monitoring a moving target: Assessment of the implementation plan of the EU Food Security Policy Framework

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CONCORD’s five main recommendations

  1. Policy and strategy processes
    It is understandable that there be evolutions in policy and strategies over time. However, it is indispensable that such evolutions be subject to parliamentary oversight and elaborated with the participation of civil society and beneficiaries; small-scale farmers in partner countries in this case. They should also result in coherent strategies which reserve a central place to human rights as founding values and binding international obligations of the EU and its member states. This is not the case with the evolution of the EU Food Security Policy Framework.

  2. Human Rights Framework
    The 2010 Food Security Policy Framework had a strong focus on the Right to Food, including political and legal frameworks and centrality of supporting strategies which tackle the root causes of hunger. This emphasis has since then significantly decreased; it is therefore crucial to bring back the Right to Food approach to the policy, especially in light of the recent recommitment by the European Union to a rights-based approach to development cooperation and of the centrality of human rights in the Sustainable Development Goals. There is also an urgent need to defend small-scale producers’ rights to the land they use, whether managed communally or individually; or under statutory or customary regimes. The worrying phenomena of land grabs needs to be curbed through effective implementation of the African Union Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa and the Committee on World Food Security Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure. This should involve refraining from financial support to large scale land investments (VGGTs art. 12.6) and a binding free, prior and informed consent requirement for all land-based investments.

  3. Internal strategic coherence
    It is crucial to ensure that the accretions to the Food Security Policy Framework over the past five years – particularly those regarding a stronger role for public-private partnerships, value chains, agribusiness and agricultural intensification – do not contradict or undermine the original focus on empowering small-scale producers, particularly women, and on promoting ecological approaches. The goal of achieving significant increase of public investment in basic services to small-scale producers, including in infrastructure, access to productive resources, and increasing farmers’ knowledge and information services needs to be kept in the front line. The EU food security policy should promote ecological agriculture practices in view of the growing evidence that they are so far the best way to build farmers’ resilience to climate change, and to increase yields in the long term while respecting the environment. It is therefore essential that the EU – in consultation with civil society and small-scale producers’ organizations – revisits the Food Security Policy Framework implementation plan to ensure that it adheres to the original commitments of the Food Security Policy Framework while including emerging issues like nutrition and resilience to climate change. This would entail adopting a holistic food systems approach which recognises and respects the diverse functions of agriculture and the requirements of consumers, particularly those most exposed to food insecurity and malnutrition. This is particularly important given the on-going revisions of the EU Consensus on Development and the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework, both of which should keep a strong focus on inclusive agriculture development and food security.

  4. External strategic coherence
    The private sector-oriented evolutions in the Food Security Policy Framework contradict some of the latest policy recommendations adopted in the Committee for World Food Security, particularly those regarding smallholders and markets which highlight the importance of territorial markets as compared with agribusiness-led value chains. It is essential that the EU’s policy be placed in coherence with the policy guidance of the Committee on World Food Security, also considering the central role that the Committee on World Food Security will be playing with regard to the food security-related Sustainable Development Goals.

  5. Monitoring methodology and practice
    In order to ensure that the EU policy and practice are grounded on solid evidence, the methodological shortcomings in the biennial reporting methodology should be addressed. As a priority, there is a need to adopt an approach that allows for lessons to be learned from experience. Space and scope should be provided for an increased engagement with civil society in designing monitoring methodology and producing the reports, which should attach far more importance to the impacts of programmes on the ground – the economic impact, but also the social, environmental and governance impacts, since those four dimensions of development are indivisible. Furthermore, use of qualitative assessment criteria, in addition to quantitative data, should be increased to ensure that strong empirical elements back up the conclusions drawn. Emerging experience in the Committee on World Food Security is relevant here. The EU should support mechanisms to ensure contribution of small-scale producers’ groups, communities and other beneficiaries in programme design and monitoring. Producers’ knowledge of agro-ecosystems, resilience, and seed and natural resource management are critical to identifying challenges and building appropriate local to continental responses.