The Near East Civil Society Consultative Workshop on Food Security and Nutrition Meets in Beirut | The Arab Group for the Protection of Nature

Commissioned by FAO UN agency, the Arab Group for the Protection of Nature, APN, organized on the fourth and fifth of May, in cooperation with the Lebanese Green Line Association and the  Civil Society Mechanism CSM coordination committee 'The Consultative Workshop for the Civil Society in the Arab World on Food Security and Nutrition.'

 The workshop held in Beirut, was addressed by the Lebanese Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Hussein Al-Haj Hassan who attended the sessions, in addition to participants from Lebanon and several Arab countries.

Other participants were 37 representatives of civil society from various Arab countries (Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Palestine, Algeria, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Sultanate of Oman, Qatar, Sudan, Iraq and Yemen), in addition to a number of experts and specialists on the topic of food and nutritional security.

The workshop aimed to develop recommendations from civil society to be discussed in the ministerial council of FAO, which was held in the same month. The workshop discussed a number of issues such as the right to food, and the role of governments and civil society institutions in facing the problems faced by farmers in wars and occupations as well as prices fluctuations and climate change problems. 

Other issues included the topic of investment in the agricultural sector and the challenges facing small farmers in the Arab world.  

 In an address, the deputy head of Green Line Ali Darwish said "the world is passing at a critical stage", regretting the failure of the food security saying there is a billion hungry people in the world along with a deteriorating climate change. He called for a fundamental change in dealing with the issue of food security.

APN President Razan Zuaiter said in a speech:“ It is the first meeting run by Arab civil society organizations.” She noted that Egypt is the most aid-receiving country and 50% of its people are below the poverty line. Zuaiter warned that international organizations would be subject to the dictates of the superpowers, which would lead them to adopt a double standard policy.  

She went on to say "we must form Arab partnerships that can affirm their presence and participation with global networks, in order to contribute in turn to setting global policies that concern our Arab region." Zuaiter pointed out that Western financing was a reason for the domestication of Arab civil society forces, which made some of these institutions "mercenary."

Then Minister Al-Haj Hassan asked the attendees to send a greeting to the Palestinian prisoners facing the occupation with empty stomach, and who used food in a resistance issue. He also pointed to Lebanon's attempt to raise its agricultural production of grains and wheat in particular, in the hope of achieving food security.  

 Participants adopted several recommendations and proposals to invigorate the societal and political will that derives from human values, religions, constitutions, and local and international charters to work to respect human dignity, alleviate the suffering of peoples, and provide food as a right, not a gift or favour from anyone.

They pointed out the important role that Arab civil society organizations play in achieving sovereignty over food, the importance of achieving a joint strategic integration among the Arab countries, stressing that crises, wars and occupations are among the main reasons for the deterioration of food security and nutrition in the region.