Food Systems Pre-Summit falls short on climate, hunger crisis, COVID-19, and
food systems transformation, say counter-mobilisation participants, totalling
almost 9,000 people.
25-28 July 2021, some 9,000 people gathered for a mostly virtual
counter-mobilisation to oppose the United Nations Food Systems (UNFSS)
Pre-Summit. The alternative forum was hailed a huge success, as it drew
together a wide variety of attendees and was able to catalyse and amplify a
counter-narrative to the official proceedings. With critical articles and
pieces published in major media outlets such as the BBC, Al Jazeera and Italian state TV Rai, and several thousands of #FoodSystems4People posts on social media seen by potentially
10 million users, the counter-mobilisation succeeded in reaching a broad public
with its vision for genuine transformation of unsustainable food systems.
counter-mobilisation to transform corporate food systems” kicked off with an
8-hour global virtual rally. This massively-attended event featured
messages from offline communities, declarations, artistic performances and live
mobilisations by hundreds of individuals and organisations from all continents,
representing smallholder farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples,
agricultural and food workers, landless peoples, women, youth, consumers, the
urban food insecure, NGOs and academics.
counter-mobilisation provided a space for dialogue about the threats posed by
increasingly corporate-controlled and globalised food systems, and the already
existing viable solutions to overcome them. An opening declaration summarising the demands of the People’s
Autonomous Response to the UNFSS - a platform of 330 organizations who took
part in the counter-mobilisation - was officially released. This civil society
group is urging that policy discussions and decisions be made in the UN
Committee on World Food Security, the only multilateral space with established
inclusivity and accountability. “The Food Systems Summit process was
designed to serve a corporate agenda. How do governments accept having their
authority and sovereignty taken over by the industry?,” questioned Paula
Gioia, smallholder food producer and member of La Via Campesina.
July, three different round tables were organised, aimed at unmasking the UNFSS
and its attempts to open the doors for the corporate capture of food governance
and science. “Food Systems are more and more designed to empower companies,
not people,” said Ali Aii Shatu from the Indigenous Peoples of Africa
Coordination Committee (IPACC). The panels of speakers from social movements,
Member States, UN and academia echoed a recent statement by hundreds of academics and reiterated by
Zoltán Kalmán, Retired Ambassador and Former Permanent
Representative of Hungary to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome: “We
don't need a new Science-Policy-Interface for food. Instead, we should
strengthen existing models such as the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE)”.
In the same vein, the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems
(IPES) officially announced its withdrawal from the UNFSS process.
July, the counter-mobilisation continued building momentum with 15 virtual
dialogues on topics ranging from reclaiming Africa’s seed sovereignty, to
building justice-based alternatives through agroecology, human rights and food
sovereignty, and how democratization of food systems can prevent corporate
control. Shalmali Guttal from Focus on the Global South said, “We need more
control over corporations, we need strong regulations and to prioritise the
public interest. We must link food systems to food cultures, not separate them
from our society.” Four sessions were dedicated to celebrating people’s
vision for reclaiming power and transforming the industrial food systems in
Abya Yala (Latin America and the Caribbean), Turtle Island (North America),
Africa and Asia.
counter-mobilisation ended with statements from indigenous leaders and representatives
of social movements, as well as a mystica ceremony led in the Zapoteca
language. Saúl Vicente of the International Indian Treaty Council closed
with a message of hope: "They wanted to bury us so that we would
disappear, but they didn't know we were seeds."
autonomous response to the UNFSS is now assessing the outcomes of the UN
Pre-summit and will monitor the process as it unfolds. However, it is already
unequivocally clear that the pre-Summit has ended without any resolution of the
fundamental issues, like binding rules to force agribusiness corporations to
respect human rights and protect the environment, end pesticide use, and end
their monopoly over the global seed market. These are just some of the issues
that hundreds of organisations have demanded be addressed. The official
Summit is due to take place in New York in September 2021.
Marion Girard, Media officer at the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’
Mechanism (CSM) for relations with the UN Committee on World Food Security
Counter-mobilisation website: foodsystems4people.org
Recorded session videos on YouTube.