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People’s monitoring resource launched amid SDGs talks

As discussions on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) kick off today at the UN High-Level Political Forum, the Global Network for the Right to Food and Nutrition launches a human rights-based monitoring resource.

Parallel to the UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), the human rights-based resource is being released to foster monitoring and accountability exercises that ensure, protect and promote people’s sovereignty, somewhat disregarded in the 2030 Development Agenda. Currently in its initial stage of development, People’s Monitoring for the Right to Food and Nutrition aims to present a critical view and the diverse dimensions, triggers and consequences of hunger and malnutrition.

Need for the full picture

Since 2000, and the launch of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), monitoring and data generation have become an increasingly important tool for underpinning policy measures and interventions. When it comes to hunger, measurements and methods for calculating the number of the world’s hungry and malnourished people have often failed to paint a full picture of its multiple dimensions, root causes and consequences.

These monitoring systems, though quantitatively measuring calories intake, income or food related expenditures, rarely address issues of discrimination linked to socio-economic status, gender and race/ethnicity, disenfranchisement, patterns of ownership and access to land, labor and capital and more qualitative assessments of wellbeing and human capabilities. At the same time, those affected by food insecurity and malnutrition hardly have a say in defining what should be monitored and how, or the policy interventions designed with this data. In other words, although they do collect interesting and valuable information, the dominant monitoring systems ignore essential aspects to ensure the right solutions.

The formal adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development marks the beginning of a new phase of monitoring development, as all countries work to translate the SDGs - including Goal 2 “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”-  into their respective national contexts through a national action plan. Yet, the voluntary nature of the exercise, as well as the ability of governments to choose which indicators they report on, prevents a real monitoring and accountability exercise: rather than ensuring a critical engagement and the accountability over those most affected by human rights violations, it narrows down to the sharing of best practices.

Human rights-based monitoring

In order to fill the gaps of mainstream and dominant monitoring systems, people are mobilizing to undertake monitoring on a human rights-based approach. This approach requires an assessment of food insecurity and malnutrition that is centered on the knowledge and direct participation of people, particularly those most affected by these challenges. Similarly, People’s Monitoring seeks to go beyond data collection and support analysis on whether or not States are fulfilling their human rights obligations and the structural issues that violate these rights.

On a particular note, the resource will address the critical question of the social control of the food system, in particular natural resources. So far, the neglect of this issue has tended to create inferences and led to solutions based on the current industrial model of production that feeds a global and inherently unequal economy.

The initiative, now in its infancy, intends to be a collaborative effort with social movements and grassroots organizations. It will remain flexible in its approach, and be tested, adjusted and fine-tuned, so it reflects the real situation on the ground.

Check out the People’s Monitoring map

Read People's monitoring for the Right to Food and Nutrition Political Manifesto

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