Defining the Politics of IFSN

WHAT ARE THE INTERNATIONAL FOOD SECURITY NETWORK (IFSN)’S POLITICS?

With more than 1 billion people going hungry everyday at a time when the world has never been so wealthy, IFSN recognises serious flaws in the current mainstream food production model. It furthers inequalities in access to food by preventing access to productive resources by the poorest, especially women. (Despite producing 70% of the world’s food, women are not considered as farmers and face food inequality even within their households.)

The current mainstream food production model is manifested by the promotion of a heavy input, environmentally unsustainable model, which is destroying smallholder farm based agriculture across the world. The food distribution system is now in the hands of big businesses, non-producers and middlemen, allowing speculation and hoarding, leading to spiral price rise. Big corporates are promoting an unhealthy food consumption model, with more than 35% food being wasted in the northern countries.

In this context, International Food Security Network (IFSN)’s ultimate goal is to work towards a world where every citizen has equal access to nutritional food. Its politics take sides with the poorest and the most vulnerable to create access to safe and nutritious food.

IFSN will view questions on food production, food distribution and environmentally sustainable agriculture models as part of the overall growth model and national development strategies pursued by the national governments. IFSN will critically engage with its external counterparts both to challenge the neo-liberal economic system and to bring up successful, pro-poor food security programmes that ensure food security for the most vulnerable. It will seek to question institutions and systems in an environment where food prices are going up whilst governments are pursuing large, corporate based, heavy input led, environmentally unsustainable models of agriculture.
IFSN will remain visible; bringing grassroots participants and their voices to national, regional and international meetings. It will help reshape international food architecture through engaging in ongoing processes like CFS, HLTF by asking them to become more participatory, grassroots-oriented and functional.

IFSN will work with small food producers, protecting their interests. It will work actively for the most vulnerable people, promoting an agriculture that protects the environment and creates access to productive resources for the poor.

To retain a relevance to food security, IFSN’s politics must be both possible and practical, and directed to support and protect the interests of the poorest people.

Principles:

  1. Participation: IFSN denotes mutually agreed, participatory and transparent processes, where national networks play equal roles informing a political position on agriculture.
  2. Pro-poor & pro-women: IFSN must protect the interests of small food producers and the poorest women, and actively support the most vulnerable.
  3. Safe, nutritious, affordable Food: Through IFSN’s work and engagement, it must seek to ensure safe and nutritious food for all, especially for the most vulnerable food producers.  
  4. Livelihoods: IFSN must promote protection of the livelihoods of small food producers and their means of production, and advocate processes that ensure a fair price for their labour and products.
  5. Producers: IFSN must protect the interests of smallholder producers and voice their concerns though its activities.
  6. Protecting & promoting environmentally sustainable agriculture: IFSN believes in low input, smallholder farmer based sustainable agriculture, and promotes and supports innovations, inputs, and finance in favour of the above practices.
  7. Positive food security programme: IFSN must promote the government’s active protection of smallholder farmers, especially women, and promote its research into food security. IFSN advocates trade and finance mechanisms which support small food producers
  8. Pro-poor growth: IFSN seeks to promote agricultural growth in developing countries by protecting against food dumping and advocating an agro-based food market produced by local smallholder farmers in developing countries. IFSN supports agricultural innovation that reduces drudgery; protects biodiversity, seeds and local varieties; and promotes innovations which ensure higher prices for small producers. IFSN must work to create affordable access to agriculture finance and work to eliminate high interest informal local finances.
  9. Right to food framework: IFSN must work with national governments and international agencies to make the Right to Food legally binding to duty-bearers. It must also ensure CSO monitoring by establishing a multi-stakeholder food security committee to formulate food security policies and work to develop indicators to measure their implementation.
  10. Access to land: IFSN must engage to create access to and control over land and related productive resources for small producers, especially women producers.

IFSN will promote the above principles by undertaking the following activities:

1. BUILD NATIONAL FOOD SECURITY NETWORKS AND BUILD THEIR LOBBY AND ADVOCACY CAPACITIES

National food security networks, the key component of IFSN, are promoted and created as a means to represent the groups working to ensure food security. IFSN will work to bring together already existing movements, organisations, small, semi-organised groups of food producers and women’s groups under one umbrella to demand food security at international and national level.

It will work to bring in voices of the grassroots and take their demands to the policy makers. It will build the capacity of national networks by enhancing their governance structure and their ability to challenge neo-liberal policies that promote a heavy input, corporate model of agriculture.

IFSN will build the capacity of the stakeholders on natural resource protection and facilitate training. It will organise the rights holders to demand their access to and control over productive resources. It will facilitate processes for a broader understanding of the local CSOs on national laws relating to food and nutrition security. Its member organisations will monitor and analyse national programmes, and track MDGs through budget tracking.

2. RESEARCH INNOVATION, CAPACITY BUILDING AND EXPERIENCE SHARING

IFSN and its national/regional networks will undertake/facilitate researches, capacity building initiatives, experience sharing programmes and promote pro-poor, environmentally friendly innovations in agriculture.

It will devise methods and processes of engagement in monitoring the price rises and its effect on the poorest people, especially women. IFSN networks will monitor impacts of the food crisis and the consequent responses by the dutybearers to prevent another crisis. This will be done with suggestions from the communities with CSOs as focal points.
IFSN will monitor the positive implementation of commitments made by international institutions and governments at international, national and regional levels thorough regular updates and policy analysis.

3. PROMOTE RIGHT TO FOOD FRAMEWORK LEGISLATION AND FACILITATE STAKEHOLDERS’ CAPACITY BUILDING PROCESS

IFSN and its members will work towards CSO engagement for Right to Food legislation in their respective countries through:

  1. Documentation: to identify case-studies, analyse those and follow up.
  2. Capacity building: Capacity building on how to document violations of the human right to food and introducing right to food tools which are used to verify violations of food rights.
  3. Analysis: Preparation of manuals containing cases, functioning of the UN Human Rights System, the experiences with parallel reporting, the methodologies how such a report is set up to meet the requirements of the respective UN Human Rights body, and how the most effective networking, communications and advocacy strategy can be designed and implemented.

4. CAMPAIGNS AND ACTIONS

IFSN will use campaigns and engagement with other food security networks to reach out to a broader audience, calling for the attention of public opinion and asking decision-makers to make quick responses to food security issues. National networks will use campaigns as a means for lobbying and advocacy.

IFSN campaigns will benefit from already existing campaigns from both northern and southern partners. Urgent appeal letters based on case studies on documented right to food violations can be used as tools to intensify the campaigns. IFSN campaign actions will use international days: International Rural Women’s Day, World Food Day, and World Day for Elimination of Poverty, World Water Day and Global EPA Day to concentrate the visibility of its actions. IFSN can engage on the following issues:

  • Access to adequate, safe, and nutritious food for all.
  • Women’s rights to access and control land and means of livelihoods.
  • Resource allocation to agriculture sector focused on the most vulnerable.
  • Local seed protection and promotion of agro-ecology.
  • Stop agro/biofuel production in order to protect natural resources.

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