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African Civil Society Refuses To Engage With UNFSS Without Radical Change

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Members of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa 

Dr. Agnes Kalibata 

Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit 

Prerequisites for engaging with the UNFSS 

Dear Dr. Kalibata 

AFSA acknowledges your invitation of 17th September 2020 to be part of the champions group and represent African civil society. At first, we declined, for reasons set out below. However, after careful deliberation, we, the undersigned 36 network members of AFSA, came to a consensus that we would be prepared to engage with the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), scheduled to take place in September 2021 in New York, USA, dependant upon the UNFSS agreeing to the conditions set out below. 

AFSA initially welcomed the UN Secretary-General’s announcement to convene the world Food Systems Summit in 2021 with profound hope and enormous optimism. The food systems transformation agenda is long overdue, and many social movements and civil society actors, in Africa and globally, have been fighting for systemic and structural transformation of food systems, stressing the urgent need for a radical shift from fossil fuel-based industrial agriculture and corporate monopolies of food and agriculture to food sovereignty and agroecology. 

However, our genuine hope for a vibrant, inclusive, and democratic summit on food systems transformation has consistently been eroded. Below, we declare the reasons that pushed AFSA to officially refuse the invitation and set conditions for engaging with the UNFSS summit. 

Industrial agriculture is a key driver of biodiversity loss and a significant contributor to carbon emissions. Further, as COVID-19 illustrates, there are complex interactions among deforestation, reduced biological diversity, ecosystem destruction, and human health and safety, in large part driven by globalised agricultural and food systems. Exposure to existing and emerging pathogens, as ecosystem destruction continues and essential protective barriers provided by nature are breached, are tremendous public health threats. 

The inextricable connections between climate change, deforestation and industrial agriculture – a prime mechanism of agrarian extractivism and extractivist development – drive social and political instability and food insecurity on the continent, which further fuel the systemic, existential crises we face globally. 

Development interventions to date have and continue to reinforce indebtedness, inequalities and social exclusion. They deepen dependency on destructive, short-sighted and short-lived fossil fuel and capital intensive projects, and global agricultural and forest value chains, which all contribute to creating conditions for extreme vulnerability to shocks, including but not limited to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Rapid and unplanned urbanisation, with the consequent shift in the labour force from largely food producing to non-food producing jobs, and a rising African middle class, is affecting rural land use and changing our food systems. The rapid erosion of Africa’s culture coincides with the degradation of our soils, which is becoming a major issue affecting the livelihoods of many, while the growing retail/supermarket sector is also destroying and displacing local food systems and local markets. 

Yet Africa remains essentially a continent of smallholder food producers. Solutions will only work for Africa if they work for millions of farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolks, indigenous communities, custodians of nature, and women and youth in the food system. Hence, how Africa will feed itself in a situation of rapidly changing, catastrophic and chaotic climate change, and in a manner that heals nature and cools the planet, is one of our most urgent and pressing survival questions. 

About 20% of Africans – more than 250 million people – go to bed hungry every night. At the same time, industrial ultra-processed foods and sweetened beverages have penetrated African markets – many of which are high in sugar, salt, saturated fats and preservatives, thus contributing to the spread of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. This has also contributed to a major rise in excess weight and obesity, with the rate of overweight children under five having increased by nearly 24% since 2000. And affected populations are more vulnerable to COVID-19. 

Fiscal policies and regulations, such as sugar taxes, labelling of unhealthy foods, and restricting marketing, often face strong opposition from large food companies that dominate markets. Thus, Africa faces a triple burden of hunger, malnutrition, and obesity and ill health from poor quality food. Clearly, the people of Africa are facing a multitude of intertwined crises linked to changes in our farming and food systems. 

Even so, Africa has much to offer its citizens and to the world. With appropriate redirection of policies and investment, the wealth of our seed, agrobiodiversity, land, vibrant cultures and nature can contribute to solving the food crisis affecting so many of our people. 

The answer lies in our collective ability to effect holistic and systemic transformation of our food systems. Such a fundamental transformation would tackle the climate crisis, lift millions out of chronic poverty, help our people defeat hunger, nurture a healthy life for all, revive vibrant cultural practices, address structural inequality, and rejuvenate the biosphere. 

We are deeply concerned that the current rushed, corporate-controlled, unaccountable and opaque process for this UNFSS will not lead towards the transformation we envision of revitalised, sustainable and healthy food systems. A summit geared towards repeating the agri-business-as-usual model to solve the food and climate crisis cannot deliver on this visionary future. 

The current multi-stakeholder approach and structure of the UNFSS give major influence over our food system to a few corporations and philanthro-capitalists, many of whom are part of the problems. We are profoundly concerned that the UNFSS will be used as a conduit to echo the business-as-usual, quick-technofix policy prescriptions of the agribusiness agendas. 

The science is clear. Climate chaos, land-use change and erosion, and alarming biodiversity loss are the biggest existential threats to all life forms on Earth. The industrial food chain and corporate concentration around food and agriculture is the primary driver of many of the underpinning crises that humanity faces today – including health, hunger, malnutrition, deforestation, land degradation, loss of soil fertility, structural injustice and inequality. 

Nothing short of a fundamental rethink of our food systems will reverse the trajectory of chaos and crises. Incremental change is no longer enough. “Agriculture at the Crossroads,” the 2009 report by the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), clearly indicated more than ten years ago that the future of the food supply lies in the hands of smallholder and peasant farmers. That report is still relevant today, with several of its authors having issued a follow-up earlier this year titled “Transformation of Our Food Systems: The Making of A Paradigm Shift”. 

Agroecology is an alternative bottom-up paradigm that fundamentally addresses the nexus of environmental, economic, cultural and social regeneration in agriculture and overall food systems. AFSA, as part of the food sovereignty movement, stands in solidarity with peasant/family farmers, indigenous peoples, pastoralists, fishers and other citizens to exercise their fundamental human right to determine their own food and agricultural policies. AFSA stands in solidarity with thousands of farmers’ organisations and social movements worldwide to push for this holistic vision of a transition to agroecology and food sovereignty. We believe embracing agroecology is the right path to restore the damage done to our nature and cultures, cool the planet, feed the increasing population, fix the nutrition and health crisis, and build fair and just economies and thriving livelihoods. We demand that agroecology is put at the centre of the recommendations coming from the FSS. 

The current UNFSS process gives little space to traditional ecological knowledge, the celebration of traditional diets and cuisine, and the social sciences, which are critical for the future of our food system. Indigenous and local community Africans have experience and knowledge relevant to the current and future food system. Any process or outcome that does not recognise this is an affront to millions of African food producers and consumers. 

Therefore, AFSA must see the following conditions fulfilled before we engage with the summit: 

– A transition to agroecology should be central to any outcomes of the UNFSS, based on the 13 principles of agroecology outlined in the High Level Panel of Experts for Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) report on agroecology and how these can effectively be implemented globally in support of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

– The formal FSS process should establish an additional track to focus on the transformation of corporate food systems to food sovereignty, as also demanded by the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSM) of the Committee on World Food Security. 

– The CSM should be given the mandate to lead proceedings of this 6th Action Track, in collaboration with relevant UN bodies and governments, and attention must be given to cross-cutting implications in the other Action Tracks. 

– The traditional knowledge and practices of people, inclusive of Indigenous peoples, must be included in all processes and outcomes in a clear and demonstrable way. 

– The AFSA strongly believes that the ideal and legitimate forum to host and facilitate debates as significant, complex, and crucial as rethinking global food systems should remain under the United Nation’s Committee for World Food Security (CFS). 

– The FSS must commit to turning over any recommendations or outcomes to the CFS for implementation, and commit resources to strengthening the CFS and reversing its capture by corporate interests and governments. 

Sincerely, 

Original Source: afsafrica.org

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30 civil society organizations have written to the World Bank Group demanding to publicly disclose the Africa Energy Approach paper.

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By witnessradio.org Team

30 civil society organizations from around the world are demanding that the World Bank must cease investing in fossil fuels, scale up investments in decentralized renewable energy, and expand finance for energy access, including clean cooking, while embedding these efforts in a much wider ‘just recovery’ from the COVID-19 crisis, that can serve as a bridge to a ‘just transition’ to a zero-carbon future, more generally.

The demands are being raised in an ongoing discussions around World Bank’s engagement in the African continent to support borrowing countries energy sector represents a huge opportunity for the Bank to walk the talk when it comes to climate solutions and increasing the Bank’s share in supporting energy access projects, given the existing global financing gap for energy access, particularly for the least cost solutions needed by people living in energy poverty (SEforALL, 2019).

Letter To World Bank Executive Directors

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Forests Are Not Empty Spaces: To Save the Climate, Recognize Our Land Rights

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MESSAGE FROM AN INDIGENOUS LEADER AT THE BIDEN CLIMATE SUMMIT

*** Global indigenous leadership welcomes the commitment to finance the protection of tropical forests to save the climate, while pointing out that success depends on recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities to their lands ***

WASHINGTON DC / ONLINE (22 April 2021).— The Global Alliance of Territorial Communities, a coalition of organizations representing indigenous and local communities from Brazil, Indonesia and  the nations of the Amazon and Mesoamerica, called for the recognition of the ancestral and traditional peoples’ lands, during the Leaders Summit on Climate organized by President Biden.

“It is not a request for charity, nor even for justice: It is our right and also what western science and the data indicate as the only possible course of action to confront this climate crisis,” said Tuntiak Katan, coordinator of the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities and Indigenous leader of the Shuar people of Ecuador. Katan was invited to speak at the Summit session on “Nature-Based Solutions” session, led by the US Secretary of the Interior, Debra Ann Haaland.

The time for truth has arrived, Katan said, addressing a global audience gathered for the Summit: “Just as our elders traveled to Geneva in 1923 to claim their right to live according to their own laws, on their own lands, and according to their own cosmovision, we come again before all nations, with open hearts, looking ahead to the future together and building a new era, all of us, the protagonists in implementing the solutions that will determine the future of humanity.”

On behalf of the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities, Katan welcomed the Biden Administration’s announcements of funding for climate action and the launch of an initiative on Lowering Emission through Accelerated Forest Finance (LEAF). He also invited governments and international institutions to, “learn from past mistakes and avoid depending on the same financing model that has not resulted in the expected outcomes in climate impacts and solutions”, in clear reference to the REDD + initiative, and its single minded focus on the capture of carbon.

Katan noted that the findings of a recent study had reported that Indigenous and other local communities receive less than 1% of climate finance for mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

“That must change, if we really want to avoid climate change,” Katan said. “The forests that are the focus of this Climate Summit are not immense empty spaces:

“We, indigenous peoples and local communities, occupy those forests, and we are ready to contribute our forests to one of the most important challenges of our era: the restoration of the Earth”, he said. “However, real restoration can only happen with legal recognition of our rights to our territories. Without this, it will not be possible to ensure the integrity of ecosystems or climate security.”

In the 18 countries that are home to the organizations represented by the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities, Indigenous Peoples and local communities occupy more than 840 million hectares of land, the equivalent of 80% of the area of the United States.

“Out of those 840 million hectares, at least 400 million hectares have no recognized legal rights (1), Katan said. “We need those land rights to be recognized as the first step to ensure the integrity of ecosystems and to live according to our own rights.”.

He urged the US president and other heads of state to consider investing in the $5 cost per hectare of titling the forests claimed by Indigenous Peoples and local communities in tropical forest countries. Funding this proven climate solution, as calculated by experts at the Rights and Resources Initiative and other research groups, would channel at least US$2 billion dollars into securing land rights.

“Numerous scientific studies(link is external) show the key role of indigenous peoples and local communities in protecting forests and other key ecosystems,” Katan said. “Where our rights are recognized there is less deforestation and degradation.”

At a time, “full of darkness, it is also time to wake up”, Katan said. “This is a time when Western science and our traditional wisdom are building bridges.”

For this reason, Katan said,  the Indigenous leaders of the organizations represented by the  Global Alliance disagree with the concept of “Solutions Based on Nature.” Instead they call on the international community to speak and act with a focus on “Nature and Community-based solutions”.

“The communities are already implementing initiatives for the sustainable management of forests,” Katan said. “We are part of the solution to climate change, and that is why recognition of our rights to land is the first step in any serious effort to tackle the climate crisis.”

He ended with the following message: “Mr. Biden, you have the opportunity and the historic responsibility, along with other world leaders, to make the right political decisions to stop the climate crisis.”

For more information: Lucas Tolentino, +55 61 9254-0990 (WhatsApp), lucas.tolentino@alianzaglobal.me(link sends e-mail)

Notes to editor: 

(1) Recent research shows that in the last 10 years, less than 1% of cooperation funds against climate change have been allocated to forest management and recognition of rights (RRI and Woodwell Climate Research Center: preliminary evidence from a study of forthcoming publication).

ABOUT THE GLOBAL ALLIANCE:

The Global Alliance of Territorial Communities represents indigenous peoples and local communities from the Amazon Basin, Brazil, Indonesia and Mesoamerica, grouped in four territorial organizations: the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN), the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB), the Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) and the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA).

Original Source: Landportal.org

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‘We cannot drink oil’: campaigners condemn east African pipeline project.

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Patrick Pouyanné of Total; Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan, and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda after signing agreements for the controversial pipeline. Photograph: Courtesy of Total – Uganda

Activists say the ‘heart of Africa’ line shipping crude from Uganda to Tanzania is unnecessary and poses a huge environmental risk

Activists have accused French and Chinese oil firms of ignoring huge environmental risks after the signing of accords on the controversial construction of a £2.5bn oil pipeline.

Uganda, Tanzania and the oil companies Total and CNOOC signed three key agreements on Sunday that pave the way for construction to start on the planned east African crude oil pipeline (EACOP). But on Tuesday a letter signed by 38 civil society organisations across both east African countries said the parties had failed to address environmental concerns over the pipeline and had steamrollered over court and parliamentary processes.

Work is expected to begin this year on what would be the world’s longest electrically heated pipeline, which will move crude oil from fields near Lake Albert in western Uganda 900 miles to Tanzania’s Indian Ocean seaport of Tanga. Uganda’s crude oil is highly viscous, so it must be heated to be kept liquid enough to flow.

Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, and his Tanzanian counterpart, Samia Suluhu Hassan, witnessed the signing of agreements between shareholders, host governments, and on tariff and transport between EACOP and the Lake Albert oil shippers.

Uganda discovered reserves of crude near Lake Albert on its border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2006, and the landlocked country wants a pipeline to transport oil to international markets.

“These agreements open the way for the commencement of the Lake Albert development project,” Total said in a statement on Monday. “The main engineering, procurement and construction contracts will be awarded shortly, and construction will start. First oil export is planned in early 2025.”

The oil will come from two projects – the Tilenga project, operated by Total, and the Kingfisher project, operated by CNOOC, which together are expected to produce up to 230,000 barrels a day. Government geologists estimate total reserves at 6bn barrels.

However, Diana Nabiruma, of the Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), told the Guardian: “It is concerning that major agreements are being signed and the companies are being given the go-ahead to award contracts and start developing the Lake Albert oil project.

“The oil projects pose major environmental risks. Resources, some shared with countries such as the DRC, Tanzania and Kenya, including Lake Albert as well as Lake Victoria and rivers, are at risk of oil pollution,” she said

A globe at Uganda’s Murchison Falls national park. Activists fear the 900-mile pipeline poses risks to water resources and fisheries. Photograph: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty

“The resources support the fisheries, tourism and other economic activities. They are also important for food and water security. They therefore must be conserved.”

The #StopEACOP alliance campaign condemned the decision to build the pipeline, which it says will displace 12,000 families and would be a huge environmental risk at a time of climate emergency, when the world needs to move away from fossil fuels.

Vanessa Nakate, founder of the Rise Up climate movement in Uganda, said: “There is no reason for Total to engage in oil exploration and the construction of the east Africa crude oil pipeline because this means fuelling the destruction of the planet and worsening the already existing climate disasters in the most affected areas.

“There is no future in the fossil fuel industry and we cannot drink oil. We demand Total to rise up for the people and the planet,” she said.

Lucie Pinson, of Reclaim Finance, which works to decarbonise the financial system, added: “We call on banks to publicly commit to stay clear of the project and investors to vote against Total’s climate strategy and the renewal of the mandate of its CEO Patrick Pouyanné at the group’s AGM in May.”

Last week, more than 260 African and international organisations sent an open letter to 25 commercial banks urging them not to finance the construction of the EACOP.

David Pred, of Inclusive Development International, which supports communities to defend their rights against harmful corporate projects, said: “The oil companies are trying to dress up the investment decision signing ceremony, but fortunately this climate-destroying project is far from a done deal.

The country has yet to see anything of the oil bonanza that seemed near when deposits of crude were discovered in 2006. Photograph: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty

“Total is also taking into the highest consideration the sensitive environmental context and social stakes of these onshore projects. Our commitment is to implement these projects in an exemplary and fully transparent manner.”

CNOOC has been approached for comment.

But Nabiruma accused the two east African governments of racing to sign deals before their citizens had been told how any risks would be “avoided, minimised or mitigated”.

Robert Kasande, permanent secretary at Uganda’s ministry of energy and mineral development, said: “We are very mindful of the environment that we work in. It’s a very sensitive ecosystem. So we have put everything that we need to do in place.”

He said the project was being conducted in accordance with the Equator principles – a risk-management framework adopted by financial institutions for assessing and managing environmental and social risk in projects.

“This is a big project for us as a country,” Kasande said. “These resources that are going to be coming into the country are going to be a huge boost to this economy.”

Original Source: The Guardian.com

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