Mario Arvelo as Chair of the Committee on World Food Security

His Holiness Pope Francis congratulates Mario Arvelo on his election as Chair of the Committee on World Food Security, during a formal ceremony hosted at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on the occasion of World Food Day, on 16 October 2017. On the right is FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. [©FAO]

Mario Arvelo was elected elected by the United Nations member States as Chair of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) for the 2017-19 biennium. The CFS is the foremost intergovernmental platform for discussing strategies and creating policies for the eradication of hunger and malnutrition. It is a joint body of the United Nations specialized agencies to fight hunger and malnutrition, and promote rural development: the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Food Programme (WFP). It brings together all governments, civil society, the private sector, international financial institutions, research centers, universities, philanthropic entities, and other specialized agencies of the international system, such as the World Health Organization (WHO).

During his tenure, Arvelo achieved approval of the most ambitious multi-year program of work in the Committee’s history, including lines of work on gender, youth, inequalities, and data collection and analysis on food security and nutrition. After a complex negotiation process —which met initial resistance due to its revolutionary character— the 46th plenary session of the Committee, in October 2019, unanimously approved his initiative to strengthen and widen the transparency and inclusiveness of the Committee, expand its democratic legitimacy, and increase the number of members of the Advisory Group, where the presence of FAO, IFAD, and WFP was guaranteed with the granting of permanent seats.

Additionally, Arvelo managed to achieve approval of two lines of work for the creation of national, regional and global policies: one on food systems and nutrition, and another on agroecology and other innovative approaches in favor of the sustainability of agri-food production. He also obtained an agreement on transparency in the implementation of policies on the fight against hunger and malnutrition, based on the document «Promotion of accountability and sharing of best practices», and sealed the contribution of the CFS to the High-Level Political Forum Conference on Sustainable Development with the theme «Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality», while relaunching the «Voluntary Guidelines on the right to food» based on the examination of experiences in the field and the identification of good practices; and promoted a debate on the challenges posed by urbanization and rural transformation, and their implications for food security and nutrition. Arvelo proposed, and the Committee approved, that the International Day of Rural Women —on 15 October— be included as a permanent item on the CFS agenda, adding it to the observation of World Food Day, on 16 October. At the end of his term in October 2019, Arvelo became a member of the CFS Executive Board representing Latin America and the Caribbean.

Mario Arvelo conducts discussions during the 45th session of the Committee on World Food Security in October 2018, where he stated that the persistence of hunger and malnutrition is morally unacceptable and politically unsustainable. Lifting this shadow that looms over the human condition can only be achieved if we all commit to taking action and working together. In 2015 we adopted the Sustainable Development Agenda as a roadmap to achieve zero hunger by 2030, the year in which the history of this time will be written. If we are victorious, that is to say, if every person in every country is thenceforth able to exercise their fundamental human right to food, 2030 will be the most consequential turning point in history: humanity, unleashed from the scourge of hunger, will have found its collective soul and a new age will commence, as our possibilities will be limitless. I believe what the technical experts tell us, that we can defeat hunger in our lifetimes, so I stand among the optimists, and I hope to see that day of deliverance. I am also aware of the cold statistics, the alarming trends, and the formidable challenges. If we fail in this endeavor, every one of us will have a question to answer: “Did I do everything I could to fight hunger when there was still a chance?”

Mario Arvelo leads the plenary session of the 46th Committee on World Food Security (CFS) at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters, in October 2019. At his side is CFS Secretary Chris Hegadorn. [©FAO/Pier Paolo Cito]

Other links to Mario Arvelo’s work in the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)


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