The Civil Society Mechanism (CSM), an autonomous unit of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), is the largest space for civil society organisations working on food security and nutrition.
Problems and Purpose
The Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples' Mechanism for relations with the UN Committee on World Food Security (CSM) was set up as a space for civil society to participate in worldwide decisions on food security. It brings together organizations representing groups such as smallholders, farmers, agricultural workers, fisherfolk and indigenous people.
Background History and Context
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Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The CSM is formally linked the UN Committee on World Food Security but is an autonomous entity.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
The CSM does have members formally but organizations that participate in its space. These organizations represent people most affected by food security issues. Through these organizations, around 300 million people are represented within the CSM space .
Participants in the CSM are organizations that fall into the following categories:
- smallholder farmers
- indigenous peoples
- agricultural and food workers
- landless, women
- urban food insecure
Methods and Tools Used
The CSM is structured through a series of committees and working groups. Decisions are made by consensus.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The CSM is governed by a coordination committee that is made up of members elected by the 11 categories described above on various geographical levels. Decisions are made by consensus as far as possible, with minority reports being issued otherwise.
In addition to the main committee there are policy working groups which are open to organizations from all regions and areas. Through the CSM, civil society has a formally guaranteed right of participation, rather than just observer status. Policy working groups provide a space for dialogue and information exchange amongst these organisations, to develop strong policy positions.
Of particular relevance is the Connecting Smallholders to Markets WG, which provides information on the experience of small-scale producers’ organizations, consumers and the urban poor, and has highlighted the importance of informal, territorial markets (rather than assuming all smallholder farmers needed to be connected to more distant formal markets).
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
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Analysis and Lessons Learned
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 The CSM (2020). What is the CSM? Available at: http://www.csm4cfs.org/the-csm/ (Accessed on 17 August 2020)
The first submission of this Participedia entry was adapted from a research project by the Institute of Development Studies, 'Linking Participation and Economic Advancement’ licensed and reproduced under Creative Commons (CC BY 3.0).