5 July 2016
Strengthening Inclusive Thematic Reviews of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: The Case of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS)
UN Photo/Marco Dormino
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The CFS is an intergovernmental body that is well-placed to take an active role in thematic reviews, in particular because it is the foremost inclusive international and intergovernmental platform through which all stakeholders can work together to ensure food security and nutrition for all.

According to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, thematic reviews of progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including cross-cutting issues, will be conducted at the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) with the support of intergovernmental bodies and fora, among others (paragraph 85). The CFS is recognized in paragraph 24 of the 2030 Agenda – and is one such intergovernmental body that is well-placed to take an active role in thematic reviews, in particular because it is the foremost inclusive international and intergovernmental platform through which all stakeholders can work together to ensure food security and nutrition for all.

Over the last few months, the CFS Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) on SDGs has relentlessly worked to shape the CFS’ engagement in advancing the 2030 Agenda. These discussions concluded on 22 June 2016, with a proposal for adoption by the 43rd CFS Plenary in October 2016. By this proposal, the CFS engagement in the 2030 Agenda would include the promotion of policy convergence and coherence through its policy instruments, the sharing of lessons and exchange on good practice from countries and stakeholders, and the inclusive and participatory monitoring and review of the global food and nutrition security situation.

Heading into the HLPF in July 2016, the first Forum after the adoption of the SDGs, we would like to outline how inputs from multi-stakeholder platforms such as the CFS can strengthen thematic reviews of progress, and how decision-makers in New York, Rome and around the world can support these inclusive thematic reviews.

Inclusive Participation

First, it is increasingly recognized that inclusive participation can enhance the quality of decision-making, increase the ownership of decisions, improve the accountability and transparency of processes, and enrich outcomes through a variety of views and experiences. The 2030 Agenda – one of the most ambitious internationally agreed outcome documents – provides evidence for these points. Moving to implementation, we must not lower our commitment. All stakeholders – representatives from governments, research institutions, civil society, private sector and international organizations – need to have a seat around the table and be equipped with the necessary resources to review progress on the SDGs at the local, national, regional and global levels.

In this respect, through its multi-stakeholder approach to policy making, the CFS offers valuable institutional experience on how to include all stakeholders relevant to food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture in decision-making, including vulnerable stakeholders such as small-scale food producers, women farmers and indigenous peoples, who still produce more than 70% of the world’s food. For example, the non-Member-State participants at the CFS – UN agencies, civil society, private sector, philanthropic foundations, research organizations and international financial institutions – have the right to intervene in plenary and submit and present formal proposals, while Member countries remain the ultimate decision makers through their exclusive voting right. We would therefore argue that the thematic input of the CFS to the HLPF bears the stamp of all CFS stakeholders. Based on the beneficial discussions and support for outcomes that result from the CFS process, the CFS multi-stakeholder process could be considered as a model for other intergovernmental bodies and ECOSOC functional commissions that review progress in other thematic and cross-cutting areas of the 2030 Agenda.

Integration of Goals

Second, the 2030 Agenda is an integrated system of goals and targets, where the successful implementation of one SDG depends on progress in other areas of the Agenda. The CFS includes a science-policy interface, the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE), which can produce evidence-based thematic inputs. The CFS is well-placed to strengthen the nexus discussions, in particular regarding how SDG 2 (End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture) relates to other goals. Examples include the food – water – energy, food – water – climate, and agriculture – social protection – nutrition nexuses, or cross-cutting themes such as tenure of land or natural resources. Working on these nexuses would also set a standard for CFS to coordinate better with other bodies and commissions to ensure policy coherence, such as the FAO Conference, the World Health Assembly on nutrition issues, the UN Environment Assembly on environmental aspects, or the UN Conference on Trade and Development on trade issues, as well as expert bodies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Resource Panel.

The need for an integrated, coordinated approach becomes even more apparent when trying to read through the 46 inputs from intergovernmental bodies and forums on the theme of this year’s HLPF, as compiled on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform. The mere quantity of the inputs makes it difficult to distil the core messages from the thematic reviews. Therefore, analytically aggregated inputs on nexus and cross-cutting themes could be an added-value for decision-makers and the interested reader alike. And it would force the various agencies, commissions and bodies to break out of their respective silos as well – a discussion that is already well underway with the ECOSOC dialogue on the longer-term positioning of the UN development system, the UN system’s initiative to become “Fit for Purpose” for the 2030 Agenda, and preparations for the 2016 Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR).

Emphasis on National Level

Third and finally, the implementation of the SDGs will be primarily carried out at the national level. Governments are currently preparing, aligning and resourcing for the implementation phase. In view of the complex network of Goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda, integrated and cross-cutting policies will be necessary. Biovision together with the Millennium Institute and other partners have been supporting governments in crafting such policies, in particular with the integrated policy planning tool iSDG, and country-led multi-stakeholder dialogues to discuss policy scenarios and results.

In the spirit of learning from each other and lessons-sharing, we would like to invite all stakeholders to the following events during the upcoming HLPF:

  • Side-event “How to Achieve SDG 2? Two initiatives to support the development of national transformation pathways,” organized by Biovision, IDDRI, SDSN and the Government of the Republic of Senegal, on 12July at 1.15-2.30pm (UNHQ Conference Room 8)
  • Interactive course “Designing SDG Strategies with the iSDG Model,” organized by the Millennium Institute, on 13 July at 10.00am-1.00pm (UNHQ Conference Room E)

We also invite you to learn more about the CFS and its multi-stakeholder functioning at the

  • Side-event “Leaving no one behind in food security and nutrition governance: The Committee on World Food Security’s inclusive process and policy tools,” organized by the Governments of Bangladesh and Switzerland, on 15 July at 1.15-2.30pm (UNHQ Conference Room D)

related events