linking climate with agriculture
In June 2008, FoEI representatives joined other environmental activists to support hundreds of farmers, fisher folks, pastoralists and other organizations belonging to La Via Campesina, in an initiative being held in parallel to the FAO Conference on food security and global warming in Rome, to demand that governments and the FAO acknowledge and address their responsibilities for today's food emergency.
The results of the official summit were disappointing: rather than committing to real solutions to end the food crisis, the governments present recommended the same measures that caused it - trade liberalization, increased production, and the use of GMOs (although not explicitly) through investments in seed and fertilizer and the Green Revolution in Africa. The winners were the big agribusiness multinational companies, especially those producing fertilizers, seed and farm machinery.
This was primarily a result of the anti-democratic and anti-transparent nature of the meeting. Civil society organization (CSO) representatives were prevented from accessing the building where the governments were meeting, even though they had official permits (see video of the repression of farmer organization representatives). The only spaces that the FAO’s liaison office offered to CSOs were:
- a panel in which we participated with la Vía Campesina, ROPA and two representatives of European and US farmers associations; and
- two interventions in the closing session from the international coordinator of Vía Campesina and Ben Powless of the Indigenous Environmental Network.
FoEI also helped the IPC (International NGO/CSO Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty) to organize another forum parallel to the FAO meeting in Rome: the Terra Preta Forum. FoEI’s contribution to the working group on climate change was much appreciated by allied organizations from the agricultural sector, as the climate issues are usually debated in a rapidly changing technical language.
The organizations present at the Terra Preta forum, including FoEI, agreed on several issues. They recognized the need to link the concepts of climate justice, energy sovereignty and food sovereignty. They also agreed on the importance of facilitating understanding of the role of agriculture in the climate negotiations, and explored ways to integrate peasants, fishermen, and indigenous people present in the IPC with the Climate Justice Now! network. They also acknowledged that UN spaces in which civil society can participate effectively are becoming rarer. They planned to promote debate on climate justice within civil society’s own spaces, including at the World Social Forum 2009, in Belem, and to take the message out to the global community. Finally, FoEI contributed to the debate on the struggle of the different social movements against the neoliberal development model.
Documents are available in the IPC’s website.