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Food Sovereignty is the only solution and way forward.

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Our fragile world faces an impending global food crisis. The impact of COVID-19 pushed more people into poverty. Lockdowns devastated family livelihoods, the economy, and disrupted supply chains. Globally, according to the Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC 2022), levels of hunger remain as alarmingly high as in 2021, around 193 million people are acutely food insecure and in need of urgent assistance across 53 countries. This acute hunger is driven by conflicts, climatic shocks, the dramatic economic and social fallout from the COVID pandemic and lately by war in Ukraine. Food commodity prices at the start of 2022 were at a 10-year high, and fuel prices at a seven-year high. The current food crisis is about affordability; even in places where food is available its cost is beyond the reach for millions of people while rising prices deepen the challenges for those barely able to pay for food in normal times.

The food crisis at the moment is unique because it is unfolding amid a more difficult global context than with the food and fuel crises of 2008. The intensity and frequency of climatic shocks have more than doubled compared with the first decade of this century. About 1.7 billion people were affected by climate-related disasters, almost 90 per cent of them became climate refugees in last 10 years. Hunger, malnutrition and poverty are harder to overcome because of on-going wars, conflicts and natural disasters. These disrupts all aspects of a food system, from the harvesting, processing and transport of food to its sale, availability and consumption.

But ending hunger isn’t only about supply. Enough food is produced today to feed everyone on the planet. The problem is access and availability of nutritious food, which is increasingly impeded by multiple challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict, climate change, inequality, rising prices and international tensions.

As the shift from multilateralism to multi-stakeholderism proliferates across UN platforms, corporations have continued to gain control of the narratives for change. Corporate power in food and agriculture systems has continued to grow too, and financialization is converting food and land into objects of speculation. The recent UNFSS process is a clear example of this tendency. The failure of the neoliberal policies and industrial agriculture (including GMOs) in increasing yields and profits led to the concentration of corporate power in few transnational corporations (TNCs) which are controlling Big Data, agricultural land, ocean resources, seeds and agrochemicals, and aim to increasingly dominate our food systems and appropriate the 80% of the food produced by Family Farmers. Financialization led to an unprecedented market concentration to enhance new investments in Research and Development (R&D and (bio)technologies, with the aim to extend the frontiers of capitalism to capture all the world biodiversity.

World-wide, there is a trend towards shrinking space for civil society and reduced ambition for defending human rights. The activists at the local level are more and more vulnerable to human rights violation, oppression, and criminalization. The physical violence of state-sponsored repression using security and military forces have targeted individuals and embattled masses of peaceful protesters around the world. On the other hand, the primacy and legitimacy of the public sector is increasingly threatened by corporate capture of policy processes and a development narrative that assigns a lead role to private sector investment, while multilateralism is under attack from virulently populist nationalism and corporate-promoted multi-stakeholderism.

In the past three decades there has been a growth of an increasingly robust, diversified and articulated network of small-scale food producers, workers and other social actors ill-served by the corporate-led globalized food system who advocate for a radical transformation of food and agricultural systems based on food sovereignty. These movements have been resolutely engaged in defending and building ecologically and socially sustainable, and territorially embedded food provisioning arrangements that tend to be termed ‘alternative,’ although they are responsible for up to 70% of the food consumed in the world. Rethinking agriculture policies as a matter of economic and national security must be a priority.

The food sovereignty movement has been a dynamic part of the articulation of transformation and solutions since 1990s, through the landmark Nyéléni Food Sovereignty forum in 2007 and agroecology forum in 2015. 25 years after the creation of the concept of Food Sovereignty, our movements join their voices to call for systemic change to open the path for a future of hope.

We demand immediate action to:

  • End of speculation on food and the suspension of trading food products on stock markets. The price of food traded internationally should be linked with the costs of production and follow the principles of fair trade, both for producers and for consumers;
  • End of the WTO’s control of food trade and keep food production out of free trade agreements. Countries should have public food stockpiles, and regulate the market and prices, so that they can support small-scale food producers in this challenging context;
  • Create a new international body to conduct transparent negotiations on commodity agreements between exporting and importing countries so that countries which have become dependent on food imports can have access to food at an accessible price;
  • Forbid the use of agricultural products to produce agrofuel or energy. Food should be an absolute priority over fuel.
  • Bring a global moratorium on the payment of the public debt by the most vulnerable countries. Pressuring such countries to pay the debt is highly irresponsible and leads to socio, economic, and food crises.

We demand radical changes in international, regional and national policies to re-build food sovereignty through:

  • A radical change in international trade order. WTO should be dismantled. A new global framework for trade and agriculture, based on food sovereignty, should open the way for strengthening local and national peasant agriculture, to ensure a stable basis for a re-localized food production, the support for local and national peasant-led markets, as well as to provide a fair international trading system based on cooperation and solidarity;
  • The implementation of popular and integral Agrarian Reform, to stop the grabbing by TNCs of water, seeds and land, and ensure small-scale producers fair rights over productive resources. We protest against the privatization and grabbing of territories and commons by corporate interests under the pretext of nature protection, through carbon markets or other biodiversity off-sets programs, without consideration to the people who are living on these territories and who have been taking care of the commons for generations;
  • A radical shift towards agroecology to produce healthy food for the world. We must face the challenge of producing enough quality food while reviving biodiversity and drastically reducing GHG emissions.
  • Effective input market regulation (such as credits, fertilizers, pesticides, seeds, fuel) to support peasants’ capacity to produce food, but also to ensure a fair and well-planned transition toward more agroecological farming practices;
  • A food governance based on the people, not on TNCs. The capture of food governance by TNCs should be stopped, and people’s interests should be put at the center. Small producers should be given a vital role in all bodies dealing with food governance;
  • The transformation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants into a legally binding instrument for the defense of rural peoples.
  • The development in every country of public stockpiling capacities. The strategy of food stockpiling should be held both at the national level but also through the creation and public support to food reserves at the community level, with locally produced food coming from agroecological farming practices;
  • A global moratorium on dangerous technologies that threatens humanity, such as geoengineering, GMOs or cellular meat. The promotion of low-cost techniques that increase peasant autonomy and of peasant’s seeds;
  • The development of public policies to ensure new relationships between those who produce food and those who consume, those who live in rural areas and those who live in urban areas, guaranteeing fair prices defined based on the cost of production, allowing a decent income for all those who produce in the countryside and a fair access to healthy food for the consumers;
  • The promotion of new gender relations based on equality and respect, both for people living in the countryside and among the urban working class. The violence against women must stop now.

Source: viacampesina.org

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NGO WORK

Statement- Uganda: Seven Environmental activists brutally arrested, charged and released on police bail for protesting against the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project

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On 27 May 2024, seven environmental human rights defenders were brutally arrested by armed police in Kampala, Uganda and charged by the Jinja Road police for unlawful assembly. This was reported by the Stop the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (StopEACOP) campaign on 29 May 2024.

The seven human rights defenders were peacefully protesting against the intended financing of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project (EACOP) by the Chinese government. According to the environmental human rights defenders, EACOP has caused severe human rights violations, poses significant environmental risks, and will contribute to the climate crisis. The EACOP is a project led by Total, spanning 1,443km from Kabaale, Hoima district in Uganda to the Chongoleani Peninsula near Tanga Port in Tanzania. It aims to transport oil from Uganda’s Lake Albert oilfields to global markets via the port of Tanga.

On 27 May 2024, seven environmental human rights defenders were brutally arrested by armed police in Kampala and charged by the Jinja Road police for unlawful assembly. The seven environmental activists were sitting outside the Chinese Embassy in Kampala in an attempt to present a letter of protest to the Chinese Ambassador expressing their complaints and demanding that his government refrain from funding an unfavourable project for them. Due to their arrest occuring before they had any chance of interacting with embassy representatives, their letter was not delivered. The peaceful protesters were violently rounded up by the police, who subsequently packed them in a vehicle and brought them to the Jinja Road police. The seven activists were released on police bail and were due to report back to the Jinja Road police station. On 18 May 2024, following several banks and insurance companies’ withdrawal from EACOP, Civil Society Organizations supporting energy just transition, climate and environmental conservatism, and land justice addressed the media and urged the Chinese President to rescind his interest in funding the project.

Local organizations have been denouncing that, in order to stifle complaints, silence protesters, and maintain pressure on those who defend climate, environment, and land rights, Ugandan authorities have turned to attacking and criminalising environmentalists, climate activists, and defenders of land rights. Uganda has recorded the most number of cases of violations against these human rights defenders, with 18 incidents documented in Africa, according to the Business and Human Rights Resource Center’s 2023 in their report titled People power under pressure: Human rights defenders & business in 2023. The majority of these attacks seem to center around the EACOP and the environmental human rights defenders campaigning against the project, which the State regards as a significant infrastructure initiative.

Front Line Defenders expresses its concern for the safety and security of the seven environmental human rights defenders and strongly condemns the recent instances of intimidation, criminalization and police harassment they have been subjected to, as it believes are an act of reprisal for their peaceful and legitimate work in defence of environmental and land rights in Uganda.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Uganda to take the necessary measures to guarantee the security and protection of environmental human rights defenders during peaceful protests. The organisation also demands that the brutal arrest of these seven human rights defenders be condemned. Front Line Defenders calls Ugandan authorities to guarantee that all environmental and land human rights defenders, including human rights organisations working on environmental rights, are able to carry out their legitimate activities and operate freely without fear of police harassment.

Source: Frontline Defenders

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NGO WORK

TotalEnergies African legacy: 100 years of environmental destruction.

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TotalEnergies, the French petro giant company with a legacy of destruction on the continent, this year celebrates 100 years. To be clear, that is 100 years of profit, environmental destruction and damage to people’s lives.

The company’s damage is widespread, extensive and well-documented.

In 1956, TotalEnergies entered Africa, exploiting natural resources as it went along. In chasing down oil and gas, it has wreaked havoc on communities, land, and the environment.

A 2022 study by the Climate Accountability Institute found the total emissions attributed to the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline totals 379 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, making TotalEnergies a key contributor to Africa’s carbon footprint.

As Charity Migwi, a senior campaigner at Oil Change International, a research, communication, and advocacy organisation, notes, the company has its hands on various projects on the continent.

The project noted above will have about 460km of pipeline in the freshwater basin of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake, which directly supports the livelihoods of more than 40 million people in the region. On top of this, there are plans to extract oil from the fields in Uganda as well as the company’s prominent role in the Mozambique LNG Project, which is a major cause of carbon emissions

Closer to home, TotalEnergies has been given the go-ahead to explore for oil and gas off the south-west coast of South Africa, which sparked protests. As the company held its annual general meeting in Paris, France, protests by affected communities, civil society and activists in both countries took place.

Environmental justice group The Green Connection’s community mobilisation officer, Warren Blouw, said in a press release: “TotalEnergies and other oil and gas companies must consider the livelihoods of small-scale fishers, whose economic wellbeing is jeopardised by offshore oil and gas exploration. We must unite to protect Africa and its resources from those who only seek profit, at the cost of regular South Africans.”

Zinhle Mthiyane, of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, said: “We are protesting to protect the environment and prevent ocean pollution. Drilling for oil and gas in South African waters could degrade the environment, threatening livelihoods and cultural practices.”

One of those affected by TotalEnergies and its hunt for fossil fuels is Sifiso Ntsunguzi, a small-scale fisher from Port St Johns, on the Eastern Cape coast. Ntsunguzi made the trip to France to protest.

“We are in Paris to support the court case against TotalEnergies’ oil and gas projects. As a small-scale fisher and member of a coastal community, I do not support the exploration of oil and gas in the ocean. We use the ocean for cultural practices and as a means to sustain our livelihood. We are against exploration of gas and oil, as it may risk degradation of the environment and marine ecosystems, our livelihood and our health. I come from a fishing community and have become a fisher myself,” he said.

In another press release, environmental justice group Bloom wrote that TotalEnergies has been well aware of its climate harms as far back as the 1970s, yet the company still goes ahead with its oil and gas initiatives.

Initially, its strategy was to deny climate change, wrote Bloom. Now that it can no longer do so, it has changed tact and resorts to greenwashing, described by the United Nations as follows: “By misleading the public to believe that a company or other entity is doing more to protect the environment than it is, greenwashing promotes false solutions to the climate crisis that distract from and delay concrete and credible action.”

Total Energies portrays itself as a serious player in the renewable energy space and constantly punts its renewable efforts while going full steam ahead with its fossil fuel projects.

For example, it said of its project in the Northern Cape: “TotalEnergies and its partners are launching construction of a major hybrid renewables project in South Africa, comprising a 216 megawatt solar plant and a 500 MWh battery storage system to manage the intermittency of solar production.”

Bloom explained that chasing renewables is profitable but nowhere near as profitable as oil and gas, and it in no way negates the harmful search for and use of fossil fuels. For this reason Bloom and two other climate justice groups took TotalEnergies to court.

This case also hopes to halt the expansion of fossil fuel extraction. As The Guardian reports: “A criminal case has been filed against the CEO and directors of the French oil company TotalEnergies, alleging its fossil fuel exploitation has contributed to the deaths of victims of climate-fuelled extreme weather disasters. The case was filed in Paris by eight people harmed by extreme weather, and three NGOs.”

Joyce Kimutai, a climate scientist at the University Of Cape Town, said: “The fossil fuel industry will continue to undermine science, they will continue to expand their businesses,

they will continue to cause suffering to the people as long as they know that the law can’t hold them accountable.”

Whether the case will yield anything remains to be seen, but the important thing is people are standing up and fighting the harmful practices of these fossil fuel companies. International bodies like the UN climate change conferences yield very little results. It is up to us, the people on the ground, to unite for the good of our planet.

Source: mg.co.za

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NGO WORK

Incredible WIN! European Union withdraws from Energy Charter Treaty

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The Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) is an international agreement originally created with a focus on growing fossil fuel energy cooperation after the Cold War. Today, the Treaty is a major obstacle to effective climate action because it protects fossil fuel investments. By including investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), the Energy Charter Treaty allows fossil fuel corporations to sue States that act to protect our climate when that action could impact a company’s profits.

Today, we celebrate because the European Council overwhelmingly adopted the EU’s proposal to exit the controversial Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), an outdated international investment agreement that protects and promotes fossil fuel investments.

CIEL and other organizations across Europe have worked tirelessly to educate European decision-makers about the dangers of the Energy Charter Treaty. Together, we proved how the treaty prevents effective climate action and is fundamentally incompatible with EU law.

This pivotal vote follows up an EU Commission’s proposal for the EU and European Atomic Energy Community to exit the Energy Charter Treaty.

The Commission found the ECT incompatible with the EU’s laws, investment policy and law, and energy and climate goals. Its proposal broke months of deadlock by offering EU countries the option to remain in the treaty while allowing other countries to exit. The European Parliament also adopted a resolution in April 2024 calling on the EU to withdraw from the ECT.

Today’s vote proves that people power can win critical victories!

Join us in celebrating this victory for the people, the environment, and the climate!

Demonstrators wear masks with the EU leaders under a sword that reads Energy Charter Treaty.

Why does this matter?

Fossil fuel investors have used the Energy Charter Treaty to sue States when they take climate action, claiming a right to compensation for alleged loss of investments. If they are serious about climate action, States must disentangle themselves from investor protections that allow fossil fuel companies to sue them in private courts when States act in the public interest to phase out fossil fuels. States could be squeezed from both sides: sued by communities for their climate inaction with ever greater frequency, and sued by investors when they do act to phase out the fossil fuel drivers of the climate crisis and accelerate the energy transition.

CIEL has worked for a long time to dismantle ISDS and ensure that the perspectives of communities inform ongoing arbitration.

A demonstrator holds a sign that reads 'Exit the Energy Charter Treaty'

Policymakers in Europe, and beyond, now have a duty to end their dependency on fossil fuels, exit the ISDS system that allows industry to sue States for enacting public interest policies, and accelerate the clean energy transition.

This win in Europe is a milestone in the fight against investor state dispute settlements. Now, we are leveraging this momentum for other States and clearing the way for effective climate action around the world.

Today we celebrate this victory with you. Tomorrow we will continue working to uproot the fossil economy driving the climate crisis, and the trade and investment deals that stand in the way of a renewable energy future.

Source: ciel.org

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