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Do you know what “gaslighting” is?

Posted by Anja Soanala Rabezanahary Thursday, December 8, 2016 0 comments

Written by Maria Hartl, Senior Technical Specialist - Gender and Social Equity, IFAD/PTA

Have you ever heard about gaslighting? You are not alone if you wonder what it has to do with gender-based violence.   None of the participants in a lunchtime seminar organized by PTA and the IFAD medical team on “violence is everyone’s problem”  knew that the term explains what is happening in abusive relationships.   

The seminar took place under the umbrella of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign.  This global campaign to raise awareness about gender-based violence and respect of human rights started on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November) and runs until Human Rights Day (10 December). Dr Flavia Donati (staff counsellor),  Kim Harvey (IFAD Nurse) and Dr Hayford Etteh (medical adviser)  advised staff how to recognize symptoms of gender-based violence and how to act and react

According to  Dr Flavia Donati, gaslighting describes a form of psychological abuse where a victim is manipulated into insanity, doubting memory and perception. It goes back to the 1944 Hitchcock thriller Gaslight, which was adapted from Patrick Hamilton's 1938 novel.  There a husband slowly manipulates his wife into believing that she is going insane. He is dimming the lights which were powered by gas, then denying that the lights have changed when the wife wonders what is going on. Gaslighting usually happens gradually in a relationship and may seem harmless at first.  Abuse can be physical and psychological. One partner is driving the other slowly but steadily into a confused state of mind, where the victim does not know anymore what is right or wrong.  This leads to isolation, disorientation, depression and fragility.  The victim starts to doubt about perceptions and feelings, feels trapped and cannot talk about it.  He or she starts to feel ashamed because she cannot leave the perpetrator and also tries to protect the aggressor.

What can we do if we see a close friend, family member or colleague showing symptoms of gaslighting?  The most important thing is to listen, show compassion and tell them where to get help. We should not try to give advice about what to do.  What help would it be to say “Just leave“ if we don’t know what is really going on in the relationship?  It is important to understand that the victim cannot change the perpetrator, only his or her own behaviour and attitude towards the abuser. Kim Harvey (IFAD Nurse) shared a poster by the medical service with useful addresses and phone numbers of where to get help. It  will be posted at various locations in IFAD. For Rome-based male victims, she also suggested to approach the Centro Uomini Maltrattanti.



Mame Adama Diagne, Director of Ethics said that IFAD as an organization had a responsibility to care for its staff and prevent abuse. Dr Hayford Etteh (medical adviser) highlighed how important it was to involve more men who are not only perpetrators, but also victims of violence.

Participants also discussed how gender-based violence women is a global phenomenon that knows no borders.  It can affect rich and poor and occur at any stage in our lives. We may witness it ourselves, or with our loved ones,  our sisters, mothers, wives, partners, daughters, friends and colleagues.   Most important is not to let it happen!  We invite all to support the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign.  

Biomovies – IFADs prize for family farming

Posted by Ricci Symons Tuesday, December 6, 2016 0 comments


IFAD's Director for Environment and Climate Margarita Astralaga spoke at the biomovies award screening at the UN's Biodiversity Conference in Cancun (CBD COP13), where the finalists in the IFAD-sponsored Family Farmers category were announced.

For six years TVE has been connecting with YouTube users around the world through. Its a global competition that engages with young (and sometimes not so young) filmakers worldwide on key environment and development challenges and then it showcases the best film entries to a global online audience.

Since the competition was first launched, biomovies films have received more than 3.6 million views on You Tube with films covering a range of issues including climate change, sustainable energy, biodiversity, food waste and marine pollution.

There were entries from 17 countries for the Family Farmers category, with four films being commissioned: South Africa, Kenya, Kosovo and China. Three of these are short documentaries giving a first-hand account of life as a small family farmer in the developing world.

The quality of entrants was impressive considering that they were tacking what can be seen as one of the less glamourous areas of environmental communications– i.e. sustainable farming.

The guidelines for films in the family farming category had to address these or similar questions for smallholder farmers in developing countries:

  • Protecting biodiversity and feeding your family 
  • Climate change and family farmers 
  • Water scarcity and family farmers 
  • The fight for fuel and family farmers 
  • The role of women in family farming 

“This is the first-time IFAD has taken such a proactive role in CBD's COP," said Astralaga. "And with that in mind we wanted to make sure you noticed that we were here in Cancun – so we partnered TVE sponsoring The IFAD Prize for Family Farmers."

IFAD’s investments, including the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP), help farmers in a variety of ways, from installing weather forecast systems, to introducing new drought resistant crop varieties, as well as setting up farmer field schools where knowledge and new climate smart agriculture techniques can be demonstrated and disseminated.

The Biodiversity Advantage: Global benefits from smallholder actions shows how IFAD-supported projects are working with smallholder farmers to protect biodiversity contributing to the well-being of communities as well as to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by helping to eradicate poverty, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agricultural practices.

“Necessity is the mother of invention and creativity. And we have seen some incredible entries in this section of the awards,” added Astralaga

Written by: Michele Pentorieri

The speakers at the AgTalks session that focused on youth in agriculture. ©IFAD/M. Pentorieri
On 29th November, the eight session of AgTalks took place at IFAD's headquarter. The name of the session was "Whassup with agriculture? Young innovators tell their stories," and four young speakers  shared their stories and  ideas on how young people can be motivated to engage in agriculture. The speakers were Josine Macaspac from Philippines, Alpha Sennon from Trinidad and Tobago, Nawsheen Hosenally from Mauritius and Rahul Antao from India.

Josine, a medical and veterinary entomologist, explained the dangers of promoting the use of chemical products to fight pests. If the pests survive the first application of a chemical substance,  they become resistant to it, forcing farmers to use other ones. This leads to an increasing use of chemical products in agriculture. In order to avoid this, Josine invented a Mechanical Pest Removal System: a low-cost machine that helps to kill and remove pests from rice, corns and other similar products. The machine is based on three principle: mechanic, organic and manual. Innovation in agriculture does not need to be expensive or hi-tech.

Alpha never thought about being a farmer when he was young. Agriculture seemed really boring to him and it was not considered as an activity for young people at all. After travelling to Jamaica with his university, he realised agriculture could be promoted in a different way. His mission became to show young people that agriculture is not what they think it is. He founded WHYFARM (We Help Youth Farm), a non-governmental organisation aimed at increasing awareness among young people about food and food systems. He also created "Agriman", a superhero whose mission is to educate children about issues like food security and food waste.

Nawsheen lives in Burkina Faso. According to her, only young people have the tools and the capacities to stimulate other young people to engage in agriculture. So she founded a web TV called "Agribusiness TV" with a twofold aim. The first one is to show people the positive sides of agriculture, since media never do. The second one is to give visibility to stories that can stimulate young people to see agriculture in a positive way.

The last speaker, Rahul Antao from India, currently works at IFAD as a consultant. He studied at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy. He also worked with young chefs and indigenous rural communities in North Eastern India, focusing on the linkages between culture, man and ecology. He realised young people were moving away from local indigenous traditions, so he worked to create recipes that could be attractive for young people while using traditional products such as millet. "Children are often disenchanted about agriculture, so we created school gardens to stimulate their curiosity" said Rahul, who also worked with Slow Food Italy.

After the presentations, the audience had the opportunity to ask questions to the speakers or to simply share their impressions. The President of IFAD Kanayo F. Nwanze thanked the four young innovators for having shared their stories, inviting them to also focus on the efficiency of the value chains. Perin Saint Ange, IFAD's associate Vice-President, underlined some of the key points that for him were crucial for the speakers' success. Among others, their passion their proactivity, and their capacity of thinking outside the box.

Some interesting questions focused on the role of social media for the young farmers' success and what international organisations such as IFAD, FAO and WFP can do to promote young people's projects in agriculture. The speakers agreed that social media had a great impact on their projects. Alpha underlined they were crucial to share his idea, Josine got project feedback from all over the world about and Nawsheen recognised the use of social media as a constituent part of the strategy to spread her Agribusiness TV. With regard to the second question, Rahul invited the organisations to listen to young people's ideas and Nawsheen wished for a more efficient collaboration between organisations and young people in order to identify relevant issues, a wish shared by Alpha too.

In closing, the four speakers were invited to leave the audience and young people in general with an inspirational sentence or thought. Nawsheen focused on passion, inviting everyone to "love what you do." Josine tried to motivated people to take the first step, the first step is usually the hardest one to take. Rahul encouraged people to link things together, trying to combine different aspects of the same issue one is focusing on. "Allow your ideas to change the world, don't let the world change your ideas" said Alpha.

On the first day of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CDB) IFAD held a side event to discuss the linkages between biodiversity conservation, smallholder farmers and achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2- Zero Hunger.



The moderator, Terry Sunderland – Team Leader and Principal Scientist, Sustainable Landscapes and Food Systems, at the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) opened the event.

He discussed the role of smallholder farmers in creating resilient agriculture systems and how the world needs to recognise the value smallholder farmers bring to the world's economy.

He asked the panel how smallholder farmers can incorporate biodiversity conservation into the challenges they already face? 

Alejandro Argumedo, Director of Programmes at Asociacion ANDES spoke of his personal experiences in the mountainous regions of Peru and the need to move towards a more integrated landscape management approach.

“We should be creating innovations for food systems, we don’t need to be inventing new systems as there is already lots of knowledge," said Argumendo. "We need to harness traditional knowledge.”

Chikelu Mba, Team Leader, Seeds and Plant Genetic Resources, Plant Production and Protection Division of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) told the packed auditorium that he came from Nigeria where they maintain close ties to ancestral homes and villages.

"Despite the best efforts of small family farmers, they are barely scraping by," said Mba. "They want to send their children to school, they want cell phones, and they don’t see farming as a way of achieving that.”

“We also know we will need to produce more food with a growing population. The additional food can only be produced with a knowledge intensive ‘green-green’ revolution.”

IFAD's Director of Environment and Climate, Margarita Astralaga, explained that for smallholders their assets are part of their ecosystems. They depend on plants for medicine, seeds and hunting.
“What helps them and us is to see the full potential of these ecosystems,” said Astralaga, “Different crops and indigenous crops are important - we have lost nearly all genetic variations of corn and wheat,  50 per cent of the world is eating the same species."

"We must diversify - when small farmers do that, they can protect themselves against climate shocks. When farmers grow nuts, cocoa, coffee, cassava as well as corn, when a drought strikes and the corn yield is low or non-existent they have other crops to fall back on."

Terry Sunderland went on to ask the panel about how we can create more equitable systems, and get governments to realise the full value of smallholder agriculture?

“We have seen demonization of smallholders,” said Sunderland.

Tómas Eusebio, Forest Dialogue Facilitator, Alianza Mesoamericana de Pueblos Y Bosques (AMPB), clarified that smallholders and indigenous peoples are agents of conservation and don’t destroy biodiversity necessarily.

"I believe the problem lies with global policies," said Eusebio. "Matching ancestral knowledge to proposed policies is oftentimes difficult  - so we would like to see ancestral knowledge put into policies at CBD.”

Sunderland then asked the panel how agricultural institutions at the country level are integrating environmental concerns into their rural development programmes?

 “At IFAD we are mainstreaming this across the portfolio of investments," said IFAD's Astralaga. " If we didn’t take into account climate change and natural resource management, we would lose our money in the long term.

"As an organisation, we lend money. But we want our borrower countries to be able to pay it back. This can only happen if the crops do well. We have many examples of how it makes economic sense to invest in sustainable agriculture, you see a much higher return. It’s all about the long-term investment.”

All panellists then gave examples of the problem of youth migration to urban areas – taking with them traditional knowledge that has been in families for generations.

“By 2030 only 20 per cent  of people will live in rural areas. What will we do?” said Argumedo, Director of Programmes at Asociacion ANDES.

FAO's Mba agreed saying that if current urbanisation trends continue  in the developing world three per cent of the population would provide all the food and there is not the technology nor the knowledge for this to be a reality in most developing countries.

“We need to have able bodied people who find agriculture attractive. Not simply seeing it as working like slaves. We need a change in behaviour and outlook,” concluded Mba.

IFAD's Astralaga added that youth in developing countries want internet, phones, entertainment and easy access to the city.


"At the moment, they spend six hours or so on a bus to get into a city. If they can make a life that is seen as decent, they would stay in rural areas, but carrying on like their great grandparents is not going to happen.”

CIFOR's Sunderland summed up by saying that this was an extremely interactive event.

“There is clearly no one size fits all answer here," said Sunderland.  “All of us intuitively know there is no conflict between agriculture and biodiversity, why then are they constantly separate, whether in ministries or in declarations?"

By Stefano Consiglio, IFAD Country Office Tanzania

On 3-4 December 2016 a round table dialogue on consultation for indigenous peoples and local communities was co-hosted by IFAD Country Office in Tanzania, the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance, and the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, in Dar es Salaam. Representatives of the Government of Tanzania, IFAD partners, and members of the different indigenous communities, discussed the central role of consultation in the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples.

Left to right: Hon. Augustine Mahinga, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
of the United Republic of Tanzania, and Ms. Antonella Cordone,
FAD Senior Specialist on Indigenous Peoples.
©IFAD

The Government of Tanzania and the rights of Indigenous Peoples

It is important to demystify the fear connected with  recognizing  indigenous peoples and their right to self-determination, stressed Hon. Augustine Mahiga, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Republic of Tanzania. The Government needs to accept, he added, that the definition of Indigenous Peoples, as provided in International and Regional instruments, applies to some groups living in Tanzania. The Government of Tanzania, he recalled, is fighting against marginalization, embracing the process of consultation and talking about indigenous peoples in the context of development and unity. Tanzania, concluded the Minister, is a champion in tolerance and multi-ethnic coexistence; it is paramount to build on this diversity as a major cultural asset, which will foster development and social inclusion.

Cultural diversity is an asset for development

In the centre: Mr. Adam Ole  Mwarabu, a member of the Masai community
from the PAICODEO indigenous forum, who participated in the
Indigenous Forum organized in IFAD HQ in 2015.
©IFAD
Dr. Alber Barume, of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, recalled that for over 60 years, development was based solely on the concept of statehood; cultural diversity was seen as a dividing element. Today, he noted, the African Development Agenda considers cultural diversity as an asset for development, fully embracing the idea of “leaving no one behind”, which is embedded in the 2030 Development Agenda. Dr Barume noted that both the African Union and the Governments of the different African States, consider consultation of local communities key to the realization of the development agenda. A multi-stakeholder dialogue, he emphasized, is paramount for the development of a country-specific consultation process, of which this round table dialogue is a very good example. This consultation process, he concluded, must follow a right-based approach, applying international consultation standards.

The intervention of Mr Shani Msafiri, representative of one of
the hunter-gatherers’ communities that participated
in the round table discussion.
©IFAD

The impact of consultation on the policies of the Government of Tanzania

The policies of the Ministry of Agriculture are adopted after a dialogue with stakeholders, said Mr. Victor Mwita, from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries. A clear example of the impact of consultation on the policy-making process, he added, is represented by the Grazing Land and Animal Feed Act. The idea of linking land management and livestock, he noted, was brought to the Parliament as a result of the consultation process held with the pastoralists. These indigenous communities, Mr. Mwita concluded, are not following an outdated system, on the contrary they are good scientist, who know where and when to move their cattle.

Indigenous peoples, land titles and the struggle for better laws

The formal recognition of the customary rights of occupancy of indigenous peoples, noted Mr. Edward Lekaita of the Ujamaa Resource Community Trust, is upscaling the level of protection offered to indigenous communities. The collective land title obtained by the Hadzabe hunters/gatherers communities, he added, is a clear evidence of the importance of supporting those legal instruments that can protect indigenous peoples from those phenomena of land grabbing and land degradation, which are affecting their livelihood. The importance of adopting laws that recognize the rights of indigenous peoples, was further emphasized by different speakers representing the respective indigenous forums.  Mr. Joseph Parsambei, of the Tanzania Pastoralist Community Forum, noted that despite the important role of indigenous peoples, there is no specific law in place that recognizes them. The lack of recognition, he emphasized, is limiting the rights of indigenous peoples. To overcome this situation, Mr Pasambei stressed, it is crucial to promote consultation with the Government and with other stakeholders, promote the involvement of the media, and act on the basis of the international instruments adopted by the Government of Tanzania. The words of Mr Parsambei were echoed by Mr. Edward Porokwa, Executive Director of PINGO’s Forum, who highlighted the importance of the proposed Constitution, which has been under discussion since 2011. The new constitution, he noted, recognized specific human rights to the minorities [Makudi Madogo Madogo in Kiswahili], who are identified with those people who depend on biodiversity for their livelihood.  This constitution, he concluded, is benefiting from the direct contribution of indigenous communities, who have 10 seats in the Constituent Assembly and are drafting entire sections of this crucial legal instrument

A united front to tackle challenges and deliver on achievable milestones

Left to right: Hon Bahame Tom Nyanduga, Chairman of the Commission for
Human Rights and Good Governance; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the
United Republic of Tanzania; and Mr Francisco Pichon,
IFAD Country Director Tanzania.
©IFAD
It is paramount to avoid fragmented actions and create a united front through the joint identification of a road map with achievable milestones, noted Mr. Francisco Pichon, Country Director for Tanzania.  It is crucial, he added, to avoid being blocked by the definition of indigenous peoples, and focus on the joint efforts that can be made to promote and protect their rights. The importance of a streamlined approach was emphasized also by Ms. Antonella Cordone, Senior Specialist on Indigenous Peoples, who recalled that behind every system and every organization there are the people. It is important, she added, to identify the champions of indigenous peoples in government and civil society and go beyond the organization of workshops. It is key, she concluded, to jointly set the next steps and milestones that could be achieved, and to understand that if indigenous peoples can benefit from IFAD’s support, also IFAD needs the help of indigenous peoples, who are the depositary of an invaluable knowledge. 

The Tanzanian Country Programme and the rights of indigenous peoples

The Tanzanian Country Strategic Opportunity Programme 2016-2021 gives special attention to the needs, priorities, and inclusion of pastoralists, hunter-gatherers and other indigenous groups in Tanzania, noted Ms. Rachele Arcese of the IFAD Country Office in Dar es Salaam. IFAD, she added, is currently acting through three main projects, which focus on the rights of indigenous peoples. A large country grant provided to the International Land Coalition, she noted, is fostering policy dialogue through the creation of a platform for NGOs coordination on land governance. The GEF-funded LDFS project, she continued, has been designed through a participatory approach, strongly focused on the consultation of the involved indigenous communities. The same approach, she concluded, will be used for the Dryland Development Project in central and north-western Tanzania, which will be formulated in 2017.

The importance of global engagement for the rights of Indigenous Peoples

The round table dialogue held in Tanzania was a direct result of the engagement of IFAD both in the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, and the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. This engagement at global level allowed IFAD to start a policy dialogue with the Government of Tanzania, which would not have been possible without this global level engagement. With the financial and technical support of our partners, including the National Commission for Human Rights, IFAD is playing a catalytic role in facilitating this policy engagement process, and the upscaling of the national policies adopted to protect the rights of indigenous peoples. It is, therefore, paramount for IFAD to focus both on country level dialogues and global engagement, two strategies which are not only mutually reinforcing, but which are also facilitating the dissemination of good practices, both at national and global level. 

The participants of the round table dialogue came from the Government of Tanzania, IFAD representatives from both HQ and the ICO, IFAD development partners, and representatives of different indigenous groups.
©IFAD

By Francesca Aloisio

A young mother in Mafupa Village (Malawi). She can use the chicken’s eggs to improve the family diet and then sell any extra for income. ©IFAD/Marco Salustro 2016

Gender equality and food and nutrition security are key issues for the new Agenda 2030 and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Although the link between gender equality and food and nutrition security is well known – and celebrated in slogans such as ‘Women feed the world’ − the complex interconnections between gender and nutrition are unfortunately often overlooked or ignored.

For this reason, IFAD has launched a series of trainings for project staff and consultants involved in IFAD-supported projects in the field. The collaboration between the Gender and Nutrition teams in organizing this workshop shows IFAD's commitment to increasing the level of knowledge required by people directly involved in the development projects.

On 21 November 2016 IFAD hosted the pilot training on “How to integrate gender and nutrition-sensitive approaches into IFAD's operations”. The training was the first of its kind in IFAD.

In his opening remarks, Perin Saint Ange, Associate Vice-President, Programme Management Department (IFAD), highlighted the positive fact that gender equality and women’s empowerment has now been widely recognized as a development priority. However, he cautioned that the challenge is so huge that progress often brings in another layer of challenges and creates another layer of complexity. Improved livelihoods and opportunities can lead to negative outcomes that are unforeseen. In relation to nutrition, for example, he warned that malnutrition can also turn into obesity, stressing national budgets and requiring a complete new set of interventions.

Juliane Friedrich, Senior Technical Specialist in Nutrition (IFAD) pointed out that a focus on nutrition is crucial for the holistic success of a project and indeed for sustainable rural transformation. In many countries, incomes may be rising and food security may have improved, but the nutritional status of families participating in development projects − in particular nutritionally vulnerable groups like mothers and children − remains unchanged.

Indeed, it is a misconception that increasing food production on a family farm is enough to guarantee access by all family members to adequate, nutritious food. Often the production is sold for cash income, with none of the nutritious food kept for the family table. Teaching people about the need for a diversified diet, especially for mothers and young children, is essential to making a difference to levels of malnutrition.

The training aimed to raise awareness about the importance of including nutrition in project design and implementation, and to give some practical guidance on how to do this.

Investing in young women and mothers is vital to break the intergenerational vicious circle of malnutrition and poverty. If mothers are under age at first pregnancy and undernourished, they give birth to underweight children. If they go on to have pregnancies at frequent intervals, this further depletes their physical resources, imposes a heavy burden of additional labour and care, and deprives the children of adequate nutritious food, even during breast-feeding. Globally, every third mother is underage and this is a key factor in the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition. Improving nutrition for adolescent girls is therefore a key entrypoint in the fight against chronic undernutrition.

Participants learned that stunting – which is an indicator of chronic undernutrition − is not reversible after the age of 23 months. And, although stunting has decreased globally, some countries have made no progress – e.g. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, India and Yemen.

However, what are the challenges that project staff and consultants are facing in the field? Participants at the training referred to the lack of nutrition indicators at project level, institutional challenges, little awareness about nutrition and gender at local level and most of all a lack of tools and documentation of evidence on the matter.

One of the very few books tackling nutrition and gender is "Gender, nutrition, and the human right to adequate food: toward an inclusive framework". Co-author Dr Stefanie Lemke from Coventry University (UK) presented the book during the training. In the comprehensive publication, Lemke proposes a rights-based approach instead of a needs-based approach to promote a more precise diagnosis of the root causes of inequities.

The training was the first in a series. In 2017, IFAD will continue with further trainings to raise awareness about the complexity of food and nutrition security, and to share knowledge and experiences.

Written by: Michele Pentorieri

Panel at the CFS side-event. ©IFAD/M. Pentorieri

On 19th October, a side event at the Committee on World Food Security (CFS43) called "Human rights, food security and nutrition and small-scale fisheries" took place in the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Headquarter in Rome. The event was organised by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the IPC (International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty) Fisheries Working Group. Representatives from World Forum of Fisher Peoples, OHCHR, FAO and IPC Fisheries Working Group together with the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food Hilal Elver had the opportunity to talk about the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines). 

Naseegh Jaffer, of the World Forum of Fisher Peoples, stressed that for several communities fishing is a constitutive part of their life and culture. In presenting the Guidelines, he underlined that they are particularly focused on implementation, and support a mechanism that goes beyond the mere ratification, to address the accountability of the duty-bearers, such as multinational enterprises but especially the states. He concluded by reminding the audience that the Guidelines are not only specific to the fishing context, as they "seek food security for everyone."

"Fishing is not about property rights, but about human rights" stated Hilal Elver, UN Special Rapporteur on Right to Food, introducing one of the main themes of the event: the human rights based approach that characterises the Guidelines. She also recognised that a great focus should be put on including small-scale fisheries in decision-making processes and protecting women, who play a crucial role in fisheries.

Women's role was also mentioned by Stefania Tripodi of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Guidelines also represent a way to fight the gender inequality that persists in the sector and to involve all the levels of the society in the decisions that will directly affect them. "The Guidelines are a unique opportunity to apply the human rights based approach on fisheries", she stated, marking once more the importance of the new approach adopted by the Guidelines. This way, unlike the old needs-oriented approach, they constitute a weapon to fight and try to defeat patterns of exclusion.

©IFAD/M. Pentorieri
Sisay Yeshanew, of the FAO Legal Department, highlighted the disadvantaged and marginalised people. They represent the main focus of the Guidelines and they should participate in any decision-making process. He also introduced two categories: the right holders and the duty bearers. The former are especially represented by small-scale fishers, while the latter are primarily the states. In order to stress once again the importance of the new approach followed by the document, Yeshanew said that "differently from any other normative instrument, the Guidelines specifically mandate the application of the human rights based approach".    

The importance of participation was also stressed by Editrudith Lukanga, of the IPC (International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty) Fisheries Workgroup. She said that all the actors, such as "fishing communities, indigenous people and youth (including both men and women)" should be fully included in the decision-making processes. She commended IFAD for leading the way in practical terms by providing resources to support the participation of fishers and fish worker organizations globally in implementing the SSF guidelines. The grant project approved by the agency last year with a budget of USD 350,000 supports capacity building of fisheries organizations at different levels towards the implementation of SSF Guidelines and several training workshops have been organized in Africa and Asia as outputs of this intervention. This is in fact the third grant by IFAD in support of SSF Guidelines development and implementation; the first one in 2008 (USD 200,000) to support the participation of CSOs in high-level consultations and the second (USD 240,000) which ensured the inclusion of fishers and fishers organizations in preparing the Guidelines.

For the last part of the event, a Q&A session was opened, where the audience was encouraged to ask questions or to simply comment on the issues that came out during the discussion. Some of the most stimulating questions were about the link between the human rights based approach and poverty reduction and about how much the states are receptive to the Guidelines. The first question was effectively answered by Stefania Tripodi, who made it clear that human right based approach and poverty reduction are strongly linked. This is essentially because to empower all people (including the poorest) to fully participate in decision-making processes is equal to help them improving their living conditions. Finally, Hilal Ever recognised that one of the main challenges regarding the issue is to make sure states are aware of the Guidelines and use them to effectively protect people and the environment where they live. Hence, she wished for a push for the Guidelines, so as to disseminate them as much as possible.

In conclusion, the forum reaffirmed the need for states to comply with their obligations under international human rights treaties and to support policies, interventions and investments which have direct and indirect positive impacts on fisheries and the right to food of fishing communities. Fishing communities and all fish workers, including the indigenous and tribal peoples, should be actively involved in the decisions that affect their enjoyment of the right to food, security of tenure and access to fisheries resources.

Learn more about the Guidelines on FAO's website.