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Recommendations from the Working Groups

Recommendations from the Working Groups

Working Group 1

The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security

1. Recommendations for supporting the negotiation process

  •  Keep momentum and sustain the strong commitment of all participants to successfully conclude the process of negotiations.
  • Maintain and strengthen the work of the Language Harmonization Group and the Friends of the Chair.
  • Support the proposal of the CFS bureau to discuss and prepare a version of the annexes I and II to be presented at the next round of negotiations.
  • Call on the CFS bureau and member states to mobilize necessary resources for the next round of negotiations, including CSO participation.
  • Strike the right balance between the urgency to adopt the Voluntary Guidelines (VG) to provide guidance on tenure governance and the need to adopt a solid and coherent document.
  • Strike the right balance to maintain the agreements already reached in July and October while recognizing the principle that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed"

2. Issues highlighted by the working group

  • Strengthen the tenure rights of women.
  • Strike the right balance between safeguards and protection of marginalized groups vis-à-vis large scale investments.
  • Recognize the tenure rights of small-scale farmers and indigenous peoples; consider redistributive reforms where necessary. 
  • Importance of investments in small-holder agriculture and other forms of investments, such as partnerships between investors and owners of natural resources.
  • Use agreed language wherever possible. Take into account the existence of the UN Habitat resolution on tenure (2011).

3. Sharing of ideas about implementation, monitoring and evaluation (Part 7 of VG has not been negotiated yet by OEWG)

  • The commitment to implementation should be a commitment by all interested parties at all levels: local, national, regional and international, particularly by the states which decide to apply the VG.
  • Develop partnerships for implementation.
  • Linking the implementation of the VG to ongoing initiatives such as the African Land Policy Framework.
  • Importance of awareness raising and capacity building among all relevant parties about the Voluntary Guidelines.
  • Apply a participatory approach to the process of implementation and monitoring, which is particularly important for CSOs.
  • Ensure the participation of small-scale producers in discussing at national level how to implement and monitor the Voluntary Guidelines.
  • Discuss at regional level cultural and religious specificities for implementation, e.g.  Islamic tenure categories.
  • Reflect on establishing monitoring mechanisms, if appropriate (for example an observatory at regional level or a reporting mechanism at CFS level to monitor implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines at global level).
  • Build on existing monitoring structures.
  • Develop indicators and benchmarks about implementation.

Working Group 2

Secure and equitable access to resources for food security and nutrition – Land and water

Within group discussions, strong emphasis was put on the overall lack of (good) governance, lack of transparency and lack of legal enforcement with regard to secure and equitable access to resources (with the focus here on land and water) for food security and nutrition.


  • States should strengthen and secure access to land and water for women, pastoralists and other marginalized groups like small farmers, cast people, indigenous people, fisher folks, child-headed households and landless people, enabling them to achieve sustainable food security.
  • States should substantially increase agricultural support (national budgets and development cooperation) targeted at women to more adequately take into account their central contribution to food security.
  • States should ensure free, prior and informed consent with regard to investments in land and water and create transparency at national and international level (e.g. by mapping of land investments and water use).
  • Instruments should be supported (or, where necessary, created) where marginalized groups can hold national governments, the international community (including donors) and the private sector accountable based on national law and international obligations (related mechanisms could be addressed in the upcoming implementation guides on gender, land acquisitions and investments of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests). Extraterritorial state obligations should be a guiding aspect in the development of such instruments.
  • Address structural and cultural violence and discrimination against women, with specific focus at community and household level, inter alia by ensuring access to information, education, participation and awareness raising, involving both women and men.
  • Support sustainable use of land and water (i.a., soil fertility, water conservation, water storage) by marginalized groups, through knowledge sharing and capacity building.
  • Policies and frameworks should support and build on existing activities/ investments in agriculture that are undertaken by marginalized groups themselves. This should include strengthening their existing livelihood assets (social, physical, human, natural and financial resources).
  • States and CSOs should support mobilization and self-organization of marginalized groups, whose social movements have a key role to play in this regard.

Working Group 3

Secure and equitable access to resources for food security and nutrition – Fisheries and aquaculture

Fisheries are an important contributor to food security and poverty alleviation. FAO data suggest that fish accounted for 15.7 percent of the global population’s intake of animal protein and 6.1 percent of all protein consumed.  
However, the members of the working group and all panelists agree that the existing importance of fish and aquaculture to cover food security in developing countries is not really part of international discussions about rural development and food security. Less attention is given in international forum to the large part, small scale producers have, especially women in terms of livelihood and nutrition in developing countries. Therefore the group members appreciate the opportunity to have for the first time in this conference the possibility to contribute to the policy debate.


  • Better recognition and integration of fisheries in food security and rural development and appropriate recognition in national, regional, international and bilateral food security and agricultural policies.
  • Secure rights of small scale fishing communities to access, use, manage and benefit from resources in the sea, intertidal zones and inland waters; not only access rights, but human rights at all (cultural, educational, housing rights).
  • Support small scale fisheries – and apply the principle of subsidiarity of scale, e.g. protect them from unequal competition from large scale fisheries.
  • Policy coherence for access and sustainable use with regard to all areas that effect food security and development.
  • Support the development of fisheries specific implementation guidelines of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests, and assist in their implementation.
  • Promote the adoption of sustainable aquaculture policies and practices and eliminate non-sustainable aqua-farming. Promote small scale aquaculture systems that focus on food security and family income generation.
  • To take into account the importance of conserving the biological aquatic diversity and cultural diversity.
  • Stop overfishing and non-selective fishing, illegal, destructive fishing. Elimination of over capacities and remove capacity-enhancing subsidies.
  • Conduct impact assessment through case studies of relevant regulatory frameworks concerning food security with respect to fisheries/marine resources.
  • Establish Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as opportunity for inclusive sustainable development, not as access exclusion mechanisms.
  • Support small scale fishing communities to organize and become empowered to participate in fisheries governance and the co-management of aquatic resources and to build up capacity for implementation.
  • Support more effective, participatory and inclusive research.
  • Support the process of developing voluntary guidelines for securing small scale fisheries.
  • Improve capacity building and training of fishermen to increase knowledge and sustainable techniques.

Working Group 4

Secure and equitable access to resources for food security and nutrition – Forests

1. General characteristics

  • High level of complexity of forestry & livelihood development.
  • Different governance levels on which products and services are provided (trade off).
  • Mostly long term activities (beyond the planning cycle of projects & programs) and with hardly any immediate return for the local forest farmers.

2. Recommendations

  • Political initiatives like Payments for Environmental Service (PES) and REDD + have to be designed together with local forest farmers, being fully integrated in their long term livelihood strategy.
  • Ecosystem management technologies like agroforestry and sustainable forest management need higher ranking again.
    Impact assessments on respective interventions have to be obligatory before and after implementations.
  • Additional income and employment options need to be developed locally based non forest product value chain development empowering women and young people under recognition of traditional ecological knowledge systems (TEKs). 
  • New business models need to be further developed and tested like for Extractive reserves, Joint Forest Management (JFM), Networks of small scale enterprises and Outgrower schemes. Alternative employment opportunities outside the forest have to be provided.
  • On a national and international level the forest contribution to food security and the implementation gaps of respective policies need to be more recognized.

Codes of conduct and impact assessments have to be further developed.

Working Group 5

Secure and equitable access to resources for food security and nutrition – Plant genetic resources


  • The Working Group stressed the importance of plant genetic resources for food security and the growing importance of plant genetic resources (PGR) in the light of growing world population and changing environmental conditions such as the climate and limited natural resources.
  • The Working Group identified that formal systems, such as the science-based gene banks and plant breeding in research centres, and existing informal systems, such as those exemplified through the Gene Campaign in India and the Seeds of Survival International, should be better linked.
  • Besides the availability of germplasm, the knowledge about it should be improved for screening traits for abiotic and biotic stress resistance. Opportunities should be used to connect this information to the global information system under development in the context of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). The process for the vision paper on the gobal information system under the ITPGRFA should be as inclusive and comprehensive as possible, in order to make sure that all relevant stakeholders and existing information systems participate and are well reflected in the ITPGRFA vision paper.
  • The working group recommended to further explore the need for sui generis systems to protect intellectual property related varieties in addition to the current UPOV system; an example was given from India in this respect.
  • When talking about ‘food security’ animal genetic resources should also be reflected as important resources to be conserved and improved for adapted animal breeds.

Please note:
This is a preliminary compilation of the working group results. A comprehensive documentation of the recommendations will follow shortly.