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The private sector was well represented at the 2014 Plenary session of the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in Rome. The CFS is a unique body established by the United Nations in order to serve as a forum for member countries and non-state actors to develop and review food security policies. The Private Sector Mechanism, responsible for coordinating the involvement of agri-businesses, assembled a delegation of almost 90 business leaders from 30 different countries, representing a myriad of different perspectives from all stages of the agri-food value chain. Relationships with United Nations stakeholders were fostered and strengthened through a dozen bilateral meetings, conducted in three different UN languages. Private sector actors collectively hosted 4 very well-attended side events, reports from which can be read here.

The Private Sector Mechanism was also able to make its voice heard through multiple interventions on the Plenary floor on a wide range of relevant topics. Several delegates were able to participate as panelists. Important documents on fisheries, and food waste and losses were endorsed by member countries, as were the Committee on World Food Security’s principles on Responsible Agricultural Investment (RAI). All of these documents can be found in the final CFS report available here.

Jose Graziano da Silva
Graziano da Silva addresses private sector representatives attending the CFS

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, urged private sector representatives to contribute to the creation of conditions that ensure responsible investments in food production and agriculture.

“Investment is a private decision. It’s your decision. You are the only ones responsible for investments, which however need an enabling environment,” the FAO Director-General said speaking to members of the Private Sector Mechanism partnership attending the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in Rome.

“Help these principles become part of the environment considered necessary for investment,” Graziano da Silva said, referring to the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (RAI) that were endorsed by the CFS yesterday.

The meeting with the Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) was the third of a series of high level meetings with private sector representatives that started in 2012. The main topics discussed centred on ways to improve the business model for small-holder farmers, and on food losses and waste.

“We need more governance and the private sector cannot be left out,” Graziano da Silva said, noting how the private sector can help FAO’s work in achieving a world free of hunger and also assist in obtaining the necessary political support to do this.

“Help us implement consensus achieved in the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure,” he asked the PSM representatives

FAO’s enhanced cooperation with the private sector

Hakan Bahceci, Chairperson of the Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) at the CFS, said he appreciated FAO’s enhanced cooperation with the private sector since the FAO Director-General took office in 2012.

“The private sector wants to be considered not only as a donor but as a partner. Business and associations are eager to work with you,” he said.

Bahceci highlighted how this year’s private sector delegation to the CFS is “bigger than ever” including more than 90 delegates who represent stakeholders ranging from farmers to manufacturers – something that “reflects the positive development in our relationship,” the PSM Chairman said.

Bahceci thanked the FAO Director General for the new Private Sector Workstation inaugurated at FAO headquarters yesterday. “It is helpful for our team and a symbol of your commitment in our long-term work”.

The International Fertilizers Association (IFA) supports the International Year of Soils

Charlotte Hebebrand, Director General of the International Fertilizers Association (IFA) announced financial support to FAO for the 2015 International Year of Soils.

“We congratulate the United Nations for this initiative and reiterate the importance of soils for food security,” she said. “Soils need more care and attention. They are crucial to meet the challenge of feeding a growing population,” Hebebrand added.

Bringing nutrition back to the global agenda

The FAO Director–General, addressing the private sector representatives, also stressed the need for “healthy food to achieve healthy diets that result in healthier lives” and highlighted the role the private sector played in the finalization of the outcome documents for the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) – the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and the Framework for Action.

“We need ICN2 to be a reference point. There will be criticism, but let’s build consensus and a position that can be accepted by everybody,” Graziano da Silva said. “We need your presence, you know how to do it,” he told the private sector representatives.

“Raising the levels of nutrition is part of FAO’s constitution, it is written in marble in our headquarters,” the FAO Director-General said. “We have focused on improving food production and neglected nutrition,” he added, noting that as a result “we have more than enough food but we still have alarming levels of malnutrition and obesity, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases.”

Jointly organized by FAO and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Rome from to 19-21 November, ICN2 is as a high-level intergovernmental meeting which aims to achieve a global political commitment on improving nutrition.

Heads of state and government, other dignitaries and leaders are expected to attend. Pope Francis and Queen Letizia of Spain have already confirmed their participation.

More than 70 private sector delegates are already registered to participate in the conference. “We want to send a strong signal about the importance of nutrition and the role we can play,” Bahceci said.

Pre-conference events will be organized by stakeholders: one for civil society organizations; another for private sector representatives; and a third event for parliamentarians.

These events will be held outside FAO premises and will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to coordinate their participation in ICN2 and to agree on a statement to be delivered during the conference.

The private sector event will be held in Rome on 18 November.

Private Sector
Private Sector meets with the Director General of FAO

Dr. Director General,

Thank you for taking the time to meet with us today. We truly welcome this opportunity and hope this is the continuation of a fine tradition.

This year our delegation to CFS is broader than ever. We have 90 delegates attending from 30 countries. Our teams come from different parts of the food chain, from farmers to traders and manufacturers.

We believe our delegation’s strength and diversity reflects the positive evolution of our relationship to CFS and to FAO. For example, we deeply appreciate the opening of an office space for the PSM secretariat here.

It is very helpful for our team and is a welcome indicator of your commitment to long-term engagement with our sector. We were so pleased to have Marcela Villarreal join us for the ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday. Thank you for your kind remarks Marcela, and we too felt it was a significant moment.

In the past few months, we’ve also seen some important developments in terms of other areas of engagement. I would like to extend our gratitude to FAO generally, and to you personally, for your help in securing engagement for non-state actors at the International Conference on Nutrition in November. The opportunity to have 100 delegates and to have clear modalities with FAO for this event is a tremendously important development. We appreciate the efforts of Rodrigo Castaneda and Daniele Volpe to accommodate our enthusiastic delegation.

We have more than 70 delegates already registered for ICN2 and there are more wishing to participate every day. The private sector wants to send a strong signal about the importance of nutrition and the role we can all play to end hunger and malnutrition.

Similarly, we were able to host a side event on market access for pulses during the recent meeting of the Committee on Commodity Problems. It is the first time we do so and it was a valuable opportunity. We hope to be able to see further engagement around other FAO meetings as we go forward.

It has been a very positive few months, and I know how much our own meeting last year sent a signal to all of us that it is time for a new level of engagement here. In addition to participating, we in business are ready to act. We hope to work with you to develop partnerships that mobilize the power of business – not as donor – but as truly a partner in delivering solutions.

PSM remains pleased to discuss the opportunity to second someone to assist with partnerships processes with private sector who has experience working on public-private partnerships, if that would help to increase capacity at FAO. We have many businesses and associations here eager to partner with you.

To that end, we look forward to good news for the fertilizer sector shortly. Recognizing that the group is large, we have also organised ourselves by sector:

  • farmers
  • inputs
  • livestock
  • fisheries
  • grain trade
  • processors

finance and investment

There is one person per group designated for remarks, though I assure you sir, if time allows many others would be pleased to speak.

As always, sir, it is an honour to be in your presence.

Statement by the Private Sector Mechanism On the Occasion of the CFS

Jean-Paul Beens
John-Paul Beens speaks on behalf of the Private Sector Mechanism following the endorsement of RAI.

Rome, Italy, October 15 2014 – The Private Sector Mechanism welcomes the conclusion of the negotiations and the endorsement of the voluntary Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems as part of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in Rome.

On behalf of the International Agri-Food Network (IAFN) and the private sector mechanism, Hakan Bahceci, Chair of IAFN, thanked the FAO, member states, civil society members and other relevant stakeholders, for their willingness to listen the private sector concerns, value their participation, and be open to their contributions. “The Private Sector is proud to have been part of this process, which will contribute to enhance food security and sustainable livelihoods,” noted Bahceci.

Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems is a set of principles to promote investments in agriculture. “An increasing number of private sector firms are already engaged in the improvement of corporate practices related to agricultural investments. It is a real benefit to have a set of principles endorsed by the UN which can give guidance,” said Bahceci.

Many companies have already started to review the principles in the context of existing reporting mechanisms and relevant laws and are willing to examine how the principles may work in practice, with a view to operationalizing them.

“These Principles will also guide not only private sector engagement, but also that of national governments, donors, and NGOs. Stakeholders need to work together collaboratively to attract resources to agriculture – a sector which has long been underfunded,” added Bahceci. “Investments should and do improve livelihoods, promote economic growth and eradicate poverty, foster social and gender equality, achieve sustainable development practices – all if there is a stable, corruption-free enabling environment provided by government.”

The Private Sector Mechanism wishes to congratulate all relevant stakeholders for their tireless efforts to complete these principles, with particularly recognition of the tireless work of the work group Chairperson Christina Blank of Switzerland. It is an important milestone to successfully achieve better food security and nutrition outcomes.

For more information please contact:
Robynne Anderson This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Secretariat to the International AgriFood Network

The Private Sector Mechanism fosters the input of the private sector into the UN Committee on Food Security. It is currently co-ordinated by the International Agri Food Network.

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