Opportunité d’échange avec les collègues du CCAFRICA au colloque du #CodexAlimentarius pour la région

J’ai eu l’occasion de participer au colloque du Codex pour le CCAFRICA co-organisé par le Ministère américain de l’agriculture (US DA), le bureau du Codex des États-Unis d’Amérique, la coordination pour le CCAFRICA, l’Union Africaine et le gouvernement d’Afrique du Sud, du 18 au 20 mars 2014. Des représentants de plus de 15 pays de la région ont pris part à ce colloque, qui a visé entre autres à accroître l’échange et la communication entre les pays de la région, afin de discuter les dossiers du Codex, les défis et les éléments saillants qui sont à l’ordre du jour des divers comités Codex à venir.

CCAFRICAJ’ai eu l’occasion et le plaisir de participer à ce colloque et d’y contribuer par une présentation d’introduction permettant de passer en revue les forces et les succès du Codex, ainsi que mon point de vue sur les défis à venir pour notre organisation. J’ai eu également l’occasion de contribuer à un panel de discussion en interaction avec l’ensemble des participants pour évoquer les défis spécifiques à la région Afrique. Parmi les points discutés par les participants figurent :

–  La dualité d’importance pour la région, de la sécurité d’accès aux aliments d’une part et de la sécurité sanitaire des aliments d’autre part

– Le niveau de développement et de soutien aux structures nationales du Codex dans la région Afrique pour permettre une participation efficace aux processus de développement normatif du Codex

– La disponibilité de données provenant de la région en réponse aux appels de données émis par l’OMS et la FAO, en soutien du développement de normes du Codex.

– Les conséquences et impacts des normes privées par rapport aux normes du Codex

– La capacité des pays à adopter les normes du codex et les défis liés à la vulgarisation et la dissémination de l’information liée à ces normes, parmi l’ensemble des parties prenantes et des acteurs de la production alimentaire dans la région Afrique.

Parmi les recommandations faites par les participants pour répondre à certains défis notons :

– La nécessité de renforcer les structures nationales du Codex parmi les pays de la région,

– Le renforcement de la participation et la contribution des organisations universitaires dans les processus d’élaboration des normes ou de fourniture de données nécessaires pour ce faire (et spécifiques au contexte national ou régional)

– Le renforcement de la conscientisation des décideurs par rapport à l’importance du Codex et de ses normes alimentaires.

Les participants ont également eu l’occasion de discuter les éléments portés à l’ordre du jour de trois des comités codex qui se réunissent sous peu, notamment, le comité codex sur les principes généraux (CCGP), le comité codex sur les contaminants dans les aliments (CCCF) et le comité codex sur les résidus des pesticides (CCPR), et ce dans le but d’échanger les points de vue et de se préparer au développement des positions nationales.

Rencontre avec les collègues et pairs du Kenya, de Guinée, de Tanzanie, de l'Ouganda, du Maroc et du Sénégal

Rencontre avec les collègues et pairs du Kenya, de Guinée, de Tanzanie, de l’Ouganda, du Maroc et du Sénégal

Ce colloque a constitué pour moi, une opportunité unique de rencontrer et d’apprendre directement de mes collègues et pairs de la région Afrique, notamment en ce qui concerne leurs défis et leurs préoccupations liés à la sécurité sanitaire et la qualité des aliments en général, et au développement des normes du Codex en particulier. Ce fut un privilège d’avoir des rencontres bilatérales avec les collègues représentant le Cameroun, notamment le coordonnateur du CCAFRICA, le Sénégal, la Guinée, la Tanzanie, l’Ouganda, le Gabon, le Kenya, le Maroc, le Mozambique et l’Afrique du Sud. Je réitère mes remerciements et l’expression de toute mon appréciation aux organisateurs du colloque et à nos hôtes sud-africains pour l’organisation exemplaire de cet événement.  

Great opportunity to work with colleagues from CCAFRICA at #CodexAlimentarius Colloquium

I had the opportunity to take part in the CCAFRICA Codex colloquium co-organised by the US Department of Agriculture, the US Codex office, the Coordination for CCAFRICA, the African Union and the Government of South Africa from March 18-20th, 2014. Delegates from over 15 countries of the region participated in the colloquium which aimed to enhance communication amongst member countries of the region to discuss key Codex files, challenges and agenda items for selected upcoming Codex committees. CCAFRICAI had the opportunity to contribute to the colloquium program through a keynote introduction outlining my views on key Codex strengths and accomplishments, as well as what I consider being our organisation’s upcoming challenges. I also contributed to a panel discussion, engaging the colloquium participants on these same topics with an emphasis on specific challenges relevant to the African region. Some of the points discussed included:

–  the duality of focus on food safety and food security in the African region and the contribution that Codex standards may bring to support food security in the continent ;

–  the level of development of Codex structures in CCAFRICA countries and its impacts on the effective participation in Codex standard development; –  the availability of data from the region, in response to calls for data from Codex scientific advisory bodies;

–  the impacts of private standards versus Codex standards

–  countries’ ability to adopt Codex standards and challenges related to dissemination of information related to Codex standards, guidelines and codes of practice to all food stakeholders in the region. Some of the recommendations brought forward by participants included the need:

–  to strengthen Codex national structures in countries of the region,

–  to enhance engagement of academic organisations from the region to support opportunities for data collection that reflect the regional/African countries’ context in response to calls for data that support Codex standard development and,

–  to continue enhancing awareness of the importance of Codex and Codex standards among the leadership of countries of the region

Participants had also the opportunity to engage in facilitated discussions on agenda items currently identified for some of the upcoming Codex committees: Codex Committee on General Principles (CCGP), Codex Committee on Contaminants in Food (CCCF) and Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues (CCPR). Delegates were able to exchange their views on these items with the purpose to help them prepare national positions

Meeting with Codex peers and colleagues from Kenya, Guinea, Tanzania, Uganda, Morocco and Senegal

Meeting with Codex peers and colleagues from Kenya, Guinea, Tanzania, Uganda, Morocco and Senegal

The colloquium provided me with an excellent opportunity to listen directly and learn from colleagues and peers from CCAFRICA countries about their concerns, challenges and areas of focus related to food safety and quality in general and specifically in the context Codex standard development. It was also an opportunity to engage on a bilateral level with delegates from Cameroon and the regional Coordinator for Africa, Senegal, Guinea, Morocco, Gabon, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique and South Africa.

I reiterate my thanks and appreciation to the Colloquium organizers and in particular to our gracious South-African hosts for a remarkable organisation.

Élection du Président du #Codex, honoré et fier d’être le candidat du Canada

Dans moins de quatre mois, et plus exactement le 15 juillet 2014, la Commission du Codex Alimentarius de la FAO et de l’OMS, élira un nouveau président pour la prochaine période.

J’ai été honoré par la décision du Gouvernement du Canada de me designer comme le candidat présenté par le Canada pour assumer ce rôle. À titre de membre fondateur du Codex depuis 1963, le Canada n’a cessé d’appuyer avec ferveur le Codex et sa mission qui consiste à protéger la santé des consommateurs où qu’ils soient dans le monde et d’assurer des pratiques loyales dans le commerce des denrées alimentaires.

J’ai accepté cette nomination du fait de ma conviction de l’engagement du Canada à fournir au Codex un leadership neutre, impartial et collaboratif et comme le résultat de mon intérêt à continuer à œuvrer, en collaboration avec mes pairs et collègues de la communauté du Codex, en faveur de plus d’avancées de la sécurité sanitaire et de la qualité des aliments à l’échelle mondiale.

Assumer le rôle de Vice-Président du Codex pendant les deux dernières années a été un honneur et un des plus grands privilèges auquel j’ai pu avoir accès pendant mes 17 années de carrière, associées à la sécurité sanitaire des aliments et la nutrition. Ce fut une opportunité unique de rencontrer, d’interagir et de travailler avec des leaders du domaine, à travers le monde.

Travailler avec des professionnels de la sécurité sanitaire, de la qualité des aliments et de la nutrition dans le cadre des activités du Codex, aussi dédiés et dotés d’autant d’expertise, pendant plus d’une dizaine d’années a été un élément de poids dans l’expérience que j’ai acquise en tant que scientifique et expert dans le développement de normes alimentaires. En particulier, et lors de mes efforts à faciliter le développement et l’adoption du plan stratégique du Codex pour la période 2014-19, j’ai eu l’occasion d’être exposé à des avis divergents et à des opinions diverses de la part des membres, quant aux objectifs et à la direction de notre travail au sein du Codex pour la période à venir. Malgré ces divergences, il était clair qu’un socle commun unissait tous les membres : l’attachement à la mission et aux principes du Codex et au processus décisionnel ancré dans le poids de la preuve scientifique. De même, un but commun nous réunissait : celui de protéger la santé des consommateurs à travers la planète et de créer un environnement permettant les pratiques loyales pour le commerce des denrées alimentaires.

Comment est-ce que je considère le rôle du président du Codex ?

Assumer le rôle de président d’une organisation comme le Codex est à mes yeux, un engagement pour se mettre au service des membres en sollicitant leur implication active dans les processus décisionnels, tout en favorisant l’action et la progression des activités normatives en accord avec la mission du Codex.

L’écoute des intérêts et des  préoccupations des membres est primordiale afin de diriger les discussions là où la convergence d’opinions est possible et dans la direction voulue par les membres. Le rôle de président est ainsi un rôle de facilitation visant à encourager et promouvoir le dialogue entre les membres afin de réunir les conditions de leur implication en faveur du consensus. Ce faisant, le président se doit de garder comme lignes directrices maîtresses la mission et les principes du Codex et à rappeler l’obligation d’y adhérer à la commission en tout temps.

Je me permettrai d’utiliser ce moyen de communication afin de partager mon opinion quant au rôle que doit jouer le président du Codex dans la période que traverse l’organisation en ce moment. Je serai heureux de lire vos commentaires et d’enrichir mes réflexions avec les idées que vous auriez l’amabilité de partager avec moi, aussi bien sur ce blog que sur le blog CanadaForCodex.com

 

Election of #Codex chair – Humbled and proud to be Canada’s candidate

In less than 4 months, on July 15th, 2014, the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission will be electing a new chair for the upcoming period.

I have been humbled by the decision of the Government of Canada to nominate me as Canada’s candidate for this role. Canada has a long standing support for Codex, as a founding member of the organisation in 1963. Canada continues to be a strong advocate of Codex’s mandate to protect consumers’ health worldwide and to ensure fair practices in the food trade.

I accepted this nomination as a result of my strong belief in Canada’s commitment to providing collaborative and impartial leadership to Codex, and as a result of my keen interest in further contributing, in collaboration with peers and colleagues of the Codex community, to advancing global food safety and quality.

Serving as a vice chair of the commission for the last couple of years has been one of the key highlights of my 17 year career associated with food safety and nutrition. This unique opportunity provided me with the privilege to interact with and learn from food safety leaders from around the world.

Working with such a dedicated and passionate group of food safety, food quality and nutrition professionals in Codex for over a decade, has significantly contributed to my own development and experience as a food scientist and a food regulator. In particular, and as I worked to facilitate the development and adoption of Codex’s strategic plan for 2014-19, I was able to appreciate that despite the differences of opinion and the variety of positions that we may have, we are all united by common principles of evidence-based decision-making and by a common goal to protect consumers’ health and create a level playing field for food trade.

How do I see the Chair’s role:

I consider assuming the chair’s role of an organisation such as the Codex Alimentarius Commission as a commitment to serve the codex membership through active engagement and decisive action, in alignment with the mandate of the Commission.

Serving the membership means to actively seek and listen to members’ interests and concerns and shape the direction based on their insights and input. It also means facilitating and steering the dialogue between members and fostering their engagement in Codex decision-making processes in a manner that upholds Codex’s mandate and Codex’s principles and advances our efforts to develop international food standards that serve as a reference for food regulators and food producers around the world.

I will be using this medium and other posts to share some of my thoughts and views on the responsibilities and duties of the Chairperson of Codex, considering the environment in which Codex is currently evolving. I continue to welcome your input and suggestions either via this blog or by visiting CanadaForCodex.com

#Codex Colloquium of CCLAC concludes with a robust preparation for upcoming #Codex meetings

The second and third days of the CCLAC Codex colloquium, co-organised by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Coordination for the Codex Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean (CCLAC): Costa Rica and the United States Department of Agriculture (US DA), held at the headquarters of IICA concluded today March 6th, 2014.

Participants in CCLAC Codex Colloquium

Participants in CCLAC Codex Colloquium

Review of Agenda items of major upcoming meetings

Participants had a chance to engage in extensive discussions on agenda items currently identified for major upcoming Codex committees: Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues (CCPR), Codex Committee on Contaminants in Food (CCCF), Codex Committee on General Principles (CCGP) etc

Delegations were able to exchange their views on these items with the purpose to help them prepare national positions.

Promoting Effective participation / Mitigate language barriers

Members discussed measures to enhance effective participation from the region. In particular, the issue of timely availability of Codex documents in Spanish was raised. Participants also expressed their concern over their inability to systematically contribute effectively in electronic Working Groups (WGs), if these WGs are held in English only. Amongst the ideas that were suggested to mitigate this issue was to have members of the region volunteer to co-chair the e-WG of interest, with the intent to enable availability of documents in Spanish (by the member country from the region, co-chairing) and therefore foster participation into the e-WG in Spanish. The same approach could apply for other languages as warranted. Having members take turns in assuming this function would help share the burden/costs and support the region to be more effectively represented in these proceedings.

Discussion of implementation of the Codex strategic plan and other matters:

Participants had also the opportunity to discuss in groups and at plenary, some aspects related to the implementation of the Codex Strategic Plan 2014-19 and concrete contributions from the region to support such implementation.

Final note:

Codex Costa Rica Team with CCLAC Regional Coordinator (Ms. Isabel Cristina Araya) and Dr. Gilherme Costa, Candidate for Vice Chair (Brazil)

Codex Costa Rica Team with CCLAC Regional Coordinator (Ms. Isabel Cristina Araya) and Dr. Gilherme Costa, Candidate for Vice Chair (Brazil)

Having been given the opportunity to either observe or contribute in the colloquium work, I have appreciated the level of engagement, investment and commitment of participants from the region to Codex proceedings, the importance of Codex’s work and its impact on food regulatory and standard setting activities in the region. I have also witnessed how an effective regional coordination, such as that demonstrated by the Codex team from Costa Rica, as the regional coordinator, can lead to increased members’ awareness of major issues and challenges and foster their involvement and active contribution in Codex work.

With Dr. Gilherme Costa at the CCLAC Codex Colloquium
With Dr. Gilherme Costa at the CCLAC Codex Colloquium

This meeting gave me the opportunity to exchange ideas and discuss our upcoming food standard setting priorities in Codex with Dr. Gilherme Costa (Brazil), candidate for the Vice Chair position of the CAC.

In front of the Canada Room, where several proceedings took place, at IICA's headquarters

In front of the Canada Room, where several proceedings took place, at IICA’s headquarters

I appreciated the generous and gracious hospitality of IICA as the host organisation, supported by the US DA and Costa Rica as the regional coordinator.  Meeting organisers and participants are to be congratulated for a very well-run and attended colloquium and a flawless and efficient organisation. A very successful event.

Codex Challenges and future directions discussed at the @CODEXCCLAC – IICA Colloquium

IICA CCLAC US DA Colloquium was opened on March 4th 2014.

I was given the opportunity to take part in the Codex Colloquium organised by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Coordination for the Codex Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean (CCLAC): Costa Rica and the United States Department of Agriculture (US DA) on Codex standard development.

The colloquium is gathering representatives of most Latin American and Caribbean countries who are either participating in person or through web streaming. The meeting is taking the form of a three day workshop from March 4th to 6th 2014, inclusive.

The meeting is an opportunity to enhance communication amongst member countries of the region, to discuss key Codex files, challenges and agenda items for upcoming Codex committees, with an attempt to share views, data and information and with the goal of coordinating positions of countries from the region.

I will attempt to use this medium to share with you the outcomes of most of the discussions in which I had/ am having the opportunity to contribute.

Today’s (March 4th) proceedings were opened by officials from IICA, US DA and senior officials of the Government of Costa Rica: the Vice Minister of the Economy and the CCLAC coordinator.

My colleague Dr. Guilherme Costa (Brazil) and I had the opportunity to open the discussions on challenges to be faced by Codex as an organisation in the upcoming period, as well as the way we would address such challenges as engaged members. Some of the challenges discussed by participants included:

– Sustainability of Codex as an organisation and the sustainability of our ability to contribute to codex standard development as members. The discussion also encompassed the way to address the sustainability of scientific advice and ways to ensure timely availability of key scientific assessments to inform health protection standards

– Relevance of codex standards and their responsiveness to members’ needs and to emerging issues

– Effective participation of all members in Codex standard development and ways to enhance it, in particular for developing nations

– Workflow management and timely advancement of codex standards

– Ways to address current polarisation of positions witnessed over the latest couple of commission meetings

Ms. Isabel Cristina Araya, Coordinator for CCLAC, provided hers and CCLAC’s perspective on these challenges and others.

Other open discussions amongst participants were held supported by an initial presentation made by a member or an expert from the region. These discussions focussed on:

– Preparation of country positions for various codex committee agenda items and the various processes followed to engage domestic stakeholders on these positions

– Coordination of positions within the CCLAC community and with other regions

– Fostering the availability of scientific data from the region, in response to JECFA’s calls for data

Dr. Jose Luis Rojas Martinez, discussing the importance of scientific data provided by the Region in response to JECFA and other expert bodies calls

Dr. Jose Luis Rojas Martinez, discussing the importance of scientific data provided by the Region in response to JECFA and other expert bodies calls

Participants congratulated the CCLAC coordination team for their exemplary efforts to engage and mobilise colleagues across the region in support of developing positions for key Codex agenda items. The pioneering efforts of CCLAC’s coordination in accessing and using virtual meeting tools on a regular basis to foster members’ participation across the region were highlighted.

Members of the CCLAC Coordination team

Members of the CCLAC Coordination team

This first session of the meeting also enabled an excellent networking opportunity amongst/between the various delegations participating from the Latin American and Caribbean region and other guest participants.