1
Intervention of Congresswoman Guadalupe Valdez, Regional Coordinator of the
Parliamentary Front against Hunger in Latin ...
2
Latin American countries have made a commitment to end hunger within a generation,
proposing the goal of ending this sco...
3
The PFH's work has focused on the construction of a regional agenda for dialogue, awareness,
learning, and exchange of e...
4
From a regional perspective, we can identify common challenges that must be addressed that
are relevant for theconstruct...
5
This is where sharing experiences, challenges and processes, gains strength, as part of our
political and ethical commit...
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Guadalupe Valdez (Regional Coordinator of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger) - Political Commitment and Governance in the fight against hunger from a Caribbean perspective

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Presentación realizada en el "Diálogo regional en hambre, inseguridad alimentaria y malnutrición en el Caribe: Desafíos en derecho a la alimentación y gobernanza", evento que se llevó a cabo en Antigua y Barbuda el 1 y 2 de agosto de 2013.

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Guadalupe Valdez (Regional Coordinator of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger) - Political Commitment and Governance in the fight against hunger from a Caribbean perspective

  1. 1. 1 Intervention of Congresswoman Guadalupe Valdez, Regional Coordinator of the Parliamentary Front against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean in the Regional Dialoguefor the Eradication of Hunger in the Caribbean: Challenges to Food law and Governance, held in Antigua, 1st and 2nd August, 2013 ___________________________________________________ Political Commitment and Governance in the fight against hunger from a Caribbean perspective . We are a region rich in natural resources: soil, climate, forest, wildlife and above all the people, men and women, boys and girls who live in LA and the Caribbean. However, malnutrition figures remain alarming and unacceptable. It is shameful. The dichotomy of our region, positions us as a global leader in eradicating hunger and promoting food sovereignty and security, not only for the results that have been achieved, but for having craftedour own, avant-garde mechanisms, to address the problem of hunger. LA was the first region to commit not only to reduce hunger but to eradicate it completely, through the Hunger Free Latin America and the Caribbean 2025. From this commitment, many countries have taken decisive steps to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, even daring to plan a system which allows the proliferation of conditions capable of completely eradicating hunger and which clearly shows an area of workon which political commitments in the various countries of the region should focus, promoting the creation of a regulatory system that involves the recognition of fundamental rights, especially that of adequate food, which will only be possible to the extent that there is a system of comprehensive, multisectoral and rights-based public policies. However, the previous assertion involves understanding that the problem of hunger in our region is a problem of access to food not availability. The difficulty of access to food forces us to acknowledge that the root of this situation is in the poverty that affects certain groups, which due to their economic status cannot access food. The paradox of our continent is that many of the people who suffer from hunger are precisely those who are involved in food production in the countryside. The problem of hunger is rooted in the political dimension. This requires that decision makers, and in this case parliamentarians work to generate broad consensus on the need to address the situation of the deficiencies of alarge percentage of our continents population.
  2. 2. 2 Latin American countries have made a commitment to end hunger within a generation, proposing the goal of ending this scourge by 2025. The ambitious target set to end hunger is achievable, but requires the broad engagement of all decision makers and in this sense the parliamentary role is essential. In 2009, as Regional Director of the FAO, Jose Graziano da Silva, the current Director- General, invited senators and congress members to form a parliamentaryplatform for combating hunger. The parliamentarians accepted the challenge and so the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean was formed, with the aim of creating a pluralistic parliamentary dialogue in the regional context. We intend to discuss issuesrelevant to the food sovereignty and food and nutritional security of the citizens of the various countries of the continent,in order to influence through national congressesthe strengthening of the relevant institutions and ensure the protection of the right to food for all. This commitment is expressed throughlegislative action, by gathering together more than two hundred parliamentarians from across the region, striving from their political spaces to strengthen the relevant institutions,a fundamental prerequisite for ending the scourge of hunger. In the framework of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger in Hunger Free Latin America and the Caribbean we are working to promote a dialogue between different stakeholders, to create a framework for dialogue that facilitates the generation of political consensus capable of making changes to the regulatory frameworks that become the legal basis of public policies which aim to achieve the goals which have been set. It is important to highlight the fact that different countries and subregions of the continent are drivingprocesses of debate and reflection regarding political commitment and ultimately the legal frameworks on which these are based, working with a democratic spirit that it is important to protect and promote. The contribution that social stakeholders and civil society organizations can make is relevant, since it is precisely these people who are a living expression of the elements of food security. A few months ago the Latin American Parliament adopted a framework law which seeks to inspire regulatory development of FNS in the entire region. Today the Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, Colombia, and Costa Rica are some of the countries that are working through their congresses either for the consecration of the Right to Food in their Political Constitutions or in the development of FNS regulatory frameworks, always with a rightsbased approach. Thus, it is important to remember that after sad episodes in our history, the international community has finally recognized the importance of recognizing all people as having rights, attributing them with guarantees for the realization of their own rights. From this, the evolution of international law, timidly enshrined the right to food in the universal declaration of human rights, then givingit a more predominant position in the covenants of economic, social and cultural rights in 1966, and later deepening international commitments through different instruments, such as the Millennium Development Goals, and the Hunger Free Latin America and the Caribbean Initiative. It is essential to integrate policy frameworks within a multisectoral approach,for which the national congressesare essential in different roles: 1 - in the discussion and approval of the budget law and budget allocations by sector; 2 - in exercising control and financial monitoring mechanisms; 3 - in promoting adequate regulatory frameworks; 4 - in incorporating civil society in the construction processes witha democratic and participatory approach.
  3. 3. 3 The PFH's work has focused on the construction of a regional agenda for dialogue, awareness, learning, and exchange of experiences. Today we already have 15 countries which have formedtheir Parliamentary Fronts Against Hunger. All of them, with different degrees of progress, and taking into account the specific circumstances of each country, are working on their own agendas for institution building for Food and Nutrition Security under an inclusive and participatory approach. Some have focused their efforts to incorporate the Right to Food in their Constitutions, others work on the creationof framework laws for Food Sovereignty and Food and Nutrition Security and others in the implementation of related lawson issues such as land, water, seeds, agro-biodiversity, and food emergency. All these efforts are important, not only to establish and implement a mandate but also to promote a process that develops the capacity of citizens to demand their rights. It is essential in these times of major changes regarding strategic objectives to recognize that ending hunger fundamentally requires, astrong and clear political commitment, accompanied by an ethic, where the common good is paramount. This requires that our countries´ legal frameworks must first- recognize the right to food, and second- contribute to the development in each nation of appropriate institutions to overcome the scourge of hunger. It is therefore imperative to ask what should be the economic model in which we want to insert our legal frameworks, our policies? And immediately other questions arise- What is the purpose of our states? What is the purpose of our legal frameworks? What is the purpose of the public policies in our countries? There is no single answer. Each of us will have our own answers and these might not coincide. We do not expect them to coincide in everything. But we can dare to say that we want to reduce the high levels of inequality, inequity and discrimination to eradicate hunger and ensure that the children and young people of our islands are fed with quality food and the required nutrients to enable them to develop and become citizens who contribute to the development of their people. The institutional framework for the fight against hunger requires a series of steps that it is important to mention in this space: the first is to build a national consensus which is able to give legal recognition and protection of the right to food, abandoning the outdated concept that the state must act to protect the rights of its citizens in a paternalistic and generous manner. It is necessary to have a legal framework with a system capable of taking charge ofaddressing and solving the problem of hunger. There need to be appropriate institutions withthe necessary powers to take steps that can contribute to the Right to Food. Later it will be necessary to provide a budget for these agencies to develop the necessary public policies, plans and programmes to meet their goals. It is here, where the parliamentarians have to exercise their role as legislators, and that of control and surveillance oftheir governments. For these processes to operate and generate social cohesion on this issue, it is essential to recognize and involve citizens in the development of these frameworks, and to incorporate the vision of the different territories of the countries to build a system that responds to the needs of the whole nation.
  4. 4. 4 From a regional perspective, we can identify common challenges that must be addressed that are relevant for theconstruction of local and regional strategies aimed at eradicating hunger permanently.I would like to share these with you now: First major challenge: How to create spaces for plural and inclusive political dialogue. The support of civil society and the private sector are needed to generate mobilization processes, to invite all stakeholders towards the goal of a world without hunger, where public-private dialogue involves governments, parliaments, local governments, civil society, social and community organizations, indigenous peoples, women, youth, people of African descent, rural workers. This articulation will occurin each country taking into account their particular context, their real situation, but should be based on basic principles of coordination and plural and inclusive political dialogue, involving the various sectors from which state proposals arise, so that they do not become paralyzed when onegovernment comes to an end or a congress changes in our countries. The second challenge is the sustainability of the contents ofthe regulatory frameworks, which requires the review and adjustmentof the budget structures and in some cases financial structures of our countries, and in this regard it is essential to see how we will develop overallstate budgets with awareness ofthe need for public policies with a focus on human development and capacity building, in which resources are allocated for public policies on issues such as land, water, biodiversity, training and technology.This must be addressedacrossthe whole budget, as in most of our countriesthose resourcesintended to ensure the dignity and participation of the most vulnerable are not made visible. The third challenge is to create dialogue with the Executive Power and Ministries to establish public policies, with the congresses overseeinghow these public policies are carried out- in this case public policies for theeradication of hunger. The fourth challenge is that this issue needs to be connected from a multisectoral perspective. Today the issue about food and nutritional sovereignty, is not only related to food production, but is related with access and availability, with health, with education with the environment, with work and with social security. It is crucial to assign the role of integration bodies, which in the case of the Caribbean corresponds to CARICOM,so that in a governance framework they can engage their commitment and actions for the fight against hunger. It is necessary to recognize that in these times, we are obliged to address a number of highly complex issues on which there is no consensus, but on which we must make decisions. Today we cannot think of exercising politicalor legislative power in relation to food and nutrition security, without facing the challenge to include in the discussion the issue of food sovereignty and the right to food. Hence it is essential to put issues on the legislative agenda. For example, the impact of climate change, the different positions on agribusiness and the use of GM, pesticides and agrochemicals, land tenure and land use, the participation of women and young people, the depletion of soils and productive resources. We must also recognize that obesity is becoming a public health problem, just to mention some of the issues with which we are committed to legislatingon, for the common good and with a rights based approach. I share these thoughts with you, here on this beautiful island, whose natural beauty touches us, and the smiles and hospitality of its people enchants us and invites us to feel that the Caribbean is not just united by its water and land, but fundamentally by the opportunity we have to think and build a Caribbean commitment to eradicate hunger in the Caribbean.
  5. 5. 5 This is where sharing experiences, challenges and processes, gains strength, as part of our political and ethical commitment to contribute to making reality the eradication of poverty in the world. To conclude this reflection I want to share this picture which is what we want to happen between us .....

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