The Civil Society Network Secretariat (CSNS) plans to organise a series of meetings with CSN Members to come together and share experiences and perspectives on how the global commodity price increases are impacting nutrition in different contexts.
The event on May 25th will be offered as the first of an ongoing series of global assemblies to engage CSN Members and maintain a direct line of communication between sub-national CSN Members, CSAs, Regional Coordinators, and the CSN Secretariat. The objective of this series is to root CSN Advocacy in SUN countries’ realities and arrive at a set of joint policy demands that would address the current crisis as well as the longer-term issues at stake to mitigate and absorb future shocks in the global food system.
Recent shocks to the global economy, including the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and extreme weather events related to climate change had already exposed the fragility of our global food system. Now the war in Ukraine is threatening to spur a “hurricane of hunger and a meltdown of the global food system” as per the words of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The Russian Federation and Ukraine are among the most important producers of agricultural commodities in the world and many Civil Society Alliances are based in countries which rely heavily on these two countries for staple foods.
In addition of exports being blocked, there is concern about this year’s harvest as the war rages on during the sowing season. The situation is exacerbated by food speculation – and the overdependence of developing countries on food imports and farming inputs exposes them to price volatility. Higher costs of food production will be carried through to consumers in the form of rising food prices in a context where nutrition security for all is already a major challenge.
Rising food prices are only one aspect of the cost-of-living crisis. With the price of everything going up, including fuel and electricity, household budgets are being squeezed from every angle. This is leaving families with less money to spend on nutritious food. Inevitably, the most vulnerable members of society on the lowest incomes are paying the heaviest price for this as they go hungry and are forced to sacrifice nutritious food to pay for every other basic need.
The CSNS will convene CSN Members in an open forum to share the experiences, perspectives, and policy demands from civil society in SUN countries. This will be a semi-formal event with most contributions being made by CSN Members and the CSNS acting as facilitators.
Participants will be invited to share their views either through a timed verbal intervention, or by contributing to a shared open document capturing the broad range of perspectives.
The event will conclude with a summary of the issues raised and a discussion around the shared demands of global decision-makers to ensure that the right to nutrition is protected from ongoing (and future) price rises.
The CSNS will share follow-up communications to finalise agreement between CSN stakeholders on the joint advocacy demands, to suggest next steps for the national and local levels, and to signpost to the next global CSN assembly. The CSN secretariat will also ensure the joint advocacy demands are made public and circulated to important decision-makers at global level.
Moderator: Irshad Danish, regional coordinator for the Asia regional group and chair of the SUN CSN Steering Group
Opening remarks: Webster Makombe, Youth Leader for Nutrition Zambia