In Autumn 2021, the Secretary General of the UN will convene a Food Systems Summit.
During this Summit, the UN aims to develop: “Principles to guide governments and other stakeholders looking to leverage their food systems to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.” A virtual pre-summit meeting has already been organised to take place in Rome between the 19th and 21st of July 2021.
CETIM is deeply concerned with the preparation process for this summit, which has been characterised by a lack of transparency and the stronghold of transnational agri-food companies, while rural movements and organisations are often side-lined to the role of mere onlookers. In an analysis entitled “A Summit under Siege. Position Paper on UN Food Systems Summit 2021”, the international peasants’ movement, La Via Campesina (LVC) criticises these moves.
CETIM has brought the issues related to this summit before various UN bodies. In fact, our organisation gave the floor to one leader of LVC, who presented our shared concerns on this summit at the 46th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council.
In a written declaration presented at the High-level Political Forum of the Economic and Social Council which will be held in mid-July 2021, CETIM analyses these issues in more detail. Of these issues, the most worrying is that “the Summit seems to focus solely on an approach to food systems based on market-based solutions, which have proven to be incapable of solving the problems of hunger, inequality and the climate crisis, while ignoring the sustainable solutions of small-farming food systems, such as agroecology, which is now enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas. Agroecology is an approach based on striving to achieve ecological balance of agricultural habitats, but it is also a driver of social justice and empowerment of local rural communities.”
The Special Rapporteur of the UN on the Right to Food, Mr. Michael Fakhri, is also concerned about the preparations for the Summit. According to him, these are currently focusing on “a single type of policy, sustainable intensive agriculture, also known as the new green revolution.” According to the UN expert, “just like industrial intensive agriculture, sustainable intensive agriculture is based on capital-intensive processes and technologies, which comes back to maintaining the status quo in terms of the current political economy of the food system.”
The UN Summit must address these concerns as a priority. It must also ensure that rural organisations participate in a transparent manner if it wants to gain democratic legitimacy.