Rome, 19-21 September 1996
Key Points of the Consultation
Note: The key points of the Consultation were adopted by an overwhelming majority of participants on 21 September 1996. As is usual when large assemblies adopt substantive statements, not every participant can endorse every point.
More than 200 civil society organizations1 representing farmers (including small and medium-sized farmers), peasants, farm workers, fisherfolk indigenous communities, herders, consumers, urban poor people, childrenUs rights advocates, urban workers, famil
y advocates, human rights advocates, anti-hunger advocates, university professors, researchers, social workers, breastfeeding advocates, organic and conventional agriculture advocates, agroecological and sustainable agriculture advocates, the internationa
l press, service clubs, peace advocates, education workers, cooperatives academics, voluntary workers, non-governmental organization networks, mothers, the private enterprise sector, foodgrain banks, health workers, religious groups, fair trade advocates
environmentalists, nutrition workers, women children and youth and other organizations of civil society from over 70 countries and all regions of the world, gathered in Rome from 19 through 21 September 1996, at the invitation of the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations for a consultation on the World Food Summit, have agreed upon the following key points toward achieving universal food security, in response to the positions expressed in the draft official documents prepared for the Sum
1. The World Food Summit Declaration and Plan of Action must be consonant with the various international Declarations, Agreements and Conventions.2 All these international Documents have a bearing on attaining food security and have been ratified or appro
ved by various governments; therefore, the governments are obliged to abide by them.
2. It is necessary to challenge the present development paradigm that continues to ignore not only farmers (especially small farmers) and farm workers, women, youth and children and the marginalized rural and urban groups, but also whole regions and conti
nents, The growth model generates exclusion and poverty, and is not conducive to attaining equitable and sustainable development , social justice, and gender equality. The World Food Summit needs to focus on development, support and propagation of curren
t locally practiced alternative models and further exploration in other new paradigms promoting peopleUs participation and empowerment for all.
3. The establishment of organizations of farmers, rural workers and peasants, including co-operatives, must be encouraged, supported and respected, and mechanisms must be created to guarantee the involvement of farmers, especially women farmers, in decisi
on-making at all levels in relation to food systems.
4. Indigenous and traditional knowledge ad practices in production, processing and preservation of foods need to be promoted, improved and disseminated to ensure equitable availability of safe food.
5. Effective agrarian reforms need to be supported and implemented to consolidate access, ownership, control and management of resources by small farmers and landless people. This must include the right of women to land and resources.
6. Structural adjustment programmes promoted by international financial institutions in some cases endanger access to land, water, sanitation, food and nutrition. These programmes should be renegotiated to assure consistency with the right to safe food f
7. The World Food Summit should clearly acknowledge that the problems of malnutrition and hunger, including micronutrient deficiencies (Rhidden hungerS) are prevalent both in rural and urban areas and that different approaches are required for food securi
ty for rural poor people and urban poor people in the developing as well as developed countries.
8. National governments have the responsibility to coordinate, in partnership with civil society, the formulation and implementation of food and nutrition public policies to deal with the question of urban food insecurity. These policies should include c
omponents of enhancing urban agricultural production, public food price regulation, food safety and quality control, and food assistance to socially and nutritionally vulnerable populations.
9. Breastmilk is a natural resource for food security. In this context, the crucial role of exclusive breastfeeding for infants up to six months must be emphasized.
10. Poverty is one consequence of the unequal distribution of wealth, the unequal interchange between North and South and applying inadequate macroeconomic policies in developing countries. It results, among other causes, from programs of structural adju
stment, external debt and inadequate agrarian policies. Structural adjustment programmes and external debt in developing countries are seriously limiting the achievement of food security and for that reason need to be reconsidered.
11. Developing countries are often forced to import food from overseas, so their food security is subject to the vagaries of the international market. National self-sufficiency in basic food staples should be sought. For this reason, governments should
directly support small farmers and fisherfolk, promoting their productivity, since they are responsible for most food staple production.
12. Governments shall involve all sectors of the population in the design, implementation and evaluation of food security policies in a democratic partnership between the state and civil society. It is necessary to create the specific mechanisms that all
ow the participation of all social groups interested in achieving food security.
13. To eradicate poverty it is necessary that governments guarantee rural and urban poor peopleUs access to productive resources, such as land, credit, technology, infrastructure, basic services and jobs.
14. The responsibility for food security has to be shared between men and women within the family. Governments must promote policies which facilitate the productive and reproductive roles of women and men through better access to education, credit, techn
ology, infrastructure and basic health care, including reproductive health care and family planning services.
15. All donor nations should immediately comply with the existing United Nations target reconfirmed at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, committing 0.7S% of gross national product to Official Development Assistance, and restore the
share of ODA allocated to food security objectives. Development assistance has to be separated from private international investment because their goals are different. Even in areas where private international investment is necessary, it has to be stro
16. Food sovereignty is the freedom and capacity of states and communities to decide production, marketing and consumption strategies and policies. In order to exercise this sovereignty, political and economic autonomy are essential, along with the exist
ence of national and international food reserves that are freely accessible. The creation of food reserves and emergency food aid must give priority to mobilizing and using local resources and to promoting local, national and regional food security reserv
es, as called for at the 19974 World Food Conference held in Rome. Such reserves are economically, culturally, and socially appropriate, and can improve local food production. International organizations must review their procurement procedures to allow
small farmersU organizations to participate on an equal footing with local commercial interests.
17. We consider that Rsustainable agricultureS has become an empty expression sued with many different and even contradictory meanings. It needs to be qualified. The FAO-Den Bosch definition represents an important step in the direction of the NGO concept
and practice of agroecology and organic agriculture, but it is not reflected in the propositions made in the proposed World Food Summit Plan of Action. We consider that the sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD)/agroecology/organic agricul
ture concept implies a change in the scientific paradigm, replacing the tendency to destroy nature with one which seeks to produce as closely as possible in harmony with its laws.
This new paradigm implies that all efforts to develop and diffuse technology should be reoriented accordingly, and education, training, research and extension institutions will have to redefine their programmes and agenda. On the other hand, we consider t
hat farmersU knowledge and farmersU needs should be at the center of these efforts, and farmersU and farm workersU organizations must participate in the whole process.
Accordingly, farmersU and NGOsU successful experiences represent an important reference on which governmental and international organizations shall rely in the process of changing the patterns of agricultural development toward sustainability.
18. Urgent attention is needed to the problems of access to, and conservation of water resources, including the question of distribution of water between neighboring countries.
19. We consider that the worldUs RdomesticatedS genetic resources are a heritage of thousands of years of farmersU efforts, and this treasure cannot be appropriated for private corporate profit. Free access to genetic resources must be guaranteed for far
mers and indigenous communities whose rights over the biodiversity they have improved and conserved are being threatened. The system of Intellectual property rights promoted by the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade contravenes t
his principle and must be rejected.
20. International trade liberalization is not the solution to the problems of food security and, in many cases, undermines it. In many countries the implementation of trade agreements has driven farmers and farmworkers, especially women, off the land cre
ating national and regional dependency on food imports for future generations. Food products have a strong social and cultural dimension, and must not be considered simply as commodities. We therefore call upon governments to put a freeze on the impleme
ntation of further agricultural trade liberalization until after a thorough study of the impacts of the Uruguay round and other trade agreements in undertaken. In particular, we charge the First Ministerial Meeting of the WTO in Singapore to conduct this
evaluation before proceeding with further agricultural negotiations. We also call for implementation of the Marrakesh Decision on Measures Concerning the Possible Negative Effects of the Reform Program on Least Developed and Net Food-Importing Developing
21. In no case should food be used as a weapon or coercive political tool. Unilateral and multilateral embargoes that jeopardize food security in any state of any community within a state should never be used, and those in effect must be eliminated.
22. Debt cancellations should be implemented, especially for the least developed countries, as agreed at the World Summit for Social Development. Otherwise, governments will have to continue converting agriculture from domestic food production to cash cro
ps for export to generate foreign exchange, directly aggravating food shortages and import dependence while increasing environmental degradation.
23. Current unsustainable practices benefit mostly transnational corporations. Presently, four food companies control the vast majority of the global grade trade for example. Similarly, a small number of companies control virtually every agricultural c
ommodityPa trend which will be worsened as global agribusiness substitutes developing country commodity exports with biotechnologically engineered products. The monopolistic position of these companies impedes the development of local food markets and in
fact is rapidly displacing them in many regions of the world as trade liberalization proceeds. therefore, we urge governments to establish regulations in a code of conduct restricting such practices by transnational corporations. We enjoin governments t
o support small-scale producers and farms that are economically and ecologically sound and ensure the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity. Governments should immediately implement the Global Plan of Action from the Leipzig Confe
rence for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and, in particular, FarmersU Rights.
24. As the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture expires in the year 2000, it must be renegotiated with a Comprehensive Food Security Clause and ensuring the (???) right of countries to protect their national food self-sufficiency. In order to enforce t
his clause, we propose the creation of an international agency on food security. At the same time, governments should undertake the negotiation of a global convention of food security under the auspices of the United Nations, to ensure a framework for ma
cro-economic and agricultural policies that are open, democratic, participatory, and transparentPengaging civil society fully. Such as Global Convention on food Security would enable local, national and regional self-sufficiency in staple foods, and stab
ilize staple crops. Under this convention, socially and ecologically fair trade and sustainable food security should finally become mutually compatible objectives of the world community. We recommend tat the November 1996 Rome NGO Forum on food Security
make support for such a Convention one of its central goals and activities.
25. The larger task of achieving universal food security, as well as the implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action and Plans at the regional, national and subnational levels, all depend upon the full engagement and empowerment of all the rele
vant stakeholders of civil society and of poor and hungry people. The work of governments and international organizations toward achieving food security must be carried out in collaboration with civil society. We endorse the principles in this regard ar
ticulated at the 1995 Brussels Conference on Hunger and Poverty. Such an open and transparent process of genuine collaboration must underlie the Food for All CampaignsU future efforts to negotiate international agreements, and the working of all multilat
eral institutions. We endorse the concept of a forum in which regular dialogue occurs among governments, inter-governmental institutions, civil society and the private sector regarding a broad range of matters related to food security.
26. Food security is a human right which must take precedence of macroeconomic and trade concerns, militarism, and the dictates of the marketplace. Assuring food security for all people within their territory must be the first priority of governments.
27. Achieving food security for all also requires sustainable human development, which includes equitable access to economic opportunities for all people without discrimination, governmental policies and programs to assist vulnerable groups in meeting the
ir basic needs, protection of the environment and sustainable management of natural resources, peace, and transparent, accountable and democratic government.
28. We urge FAO member governments and the Committee on World Food Security to full accept the results of the FAO/NGO consultation, especially our proposed amendments to the final draft of the Rome Declaration and the World Food Summit Plan of Action.
1 In the remainder of the text, the terms RpeasantsS and Rfarmers and farmworkersS refer also to fisherfolk, herders, small- and medium-sized farmers and indigenous farming communities.
2 Including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition, the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development , the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Declaration and
Plan of Action of the World Summit for Children, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Agenda 21, the Biodiversity Convention, the Desertification Convention, the International Conference on Population and Development, the World Su
mmit for Social Development, the Fourth World Conference on Women, Habitat II, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the International Convenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and on Civil and Political Rights, the International Labor Organiz
ation Conventions on worker rights and indigenous peoplesU rights, the International Climate Convention, the International Conference on Indigenous People, the Conference on Small Island States and the Leipzig Declaration on Plant Genetic Resources.