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A step closer to agroecology

For the first time, the CFS includes a civil society demand in its agenda: agroecology as the answer to global hunger

During the 46th session of the UN Committee on World Food Security [1] (14-18 October in Rome, Italy) discussions were held about the state of food security and nutrition across the planet. Proposals were in line with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals agenda, notably Goal 2 for Zero Hunger.

This multilateral governance space has seen an increasing presence of agribusiness corporations, pushing for measures that benefit their patents and seed monopolies. However, this year was the first time that the Committee (or CFS) discussed a proposal from the civil society [2]: agroecological production as a way out from the planet’s multiple crises.

Kirtana Chandrasekaran, Coordinator of the Food Sovereignty program at Friends of the Earth International, evaluated the session in an interview with Real World Radio.

“We have been able to put our vision of agroecology on the agenda. Governments are now understanding what our proposals are. That we don’t want a system that keeps the same power dynamics, we don’t want a system that keeps the same lack of representation of small scale food producers”, said Kirtana during the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism weekend forum, held 12-13 October in preparation for the official discussions.

For the last 6 years, social movements and NGOs from all over the world have been working together to get agroecology on the agenda at these annual meetings. “We are quite heartened with what has happened here this week”, said Kirtana, whilst explaining how Friends of the Earth International has come together with hundreds of organizations and movements from all continents to build a “strong political and technical social analysis” of what agroecology is and why it must be put forward.

Bertrand Sansonnens from Pro Natura — Friends of the Earth Switzerland, and member of the Executive Committee of Friends of the Earth International, was also present in Rome.

He considered that it has been “fascinating to see how civil society organizations, representatives of all the food movements that exist in the world, representatives of farmers, indigenous people, can manage to work together to bring all those ideas […] and transform them into demands, clear political demands, for the UN through the Committee on World Food Security”.

This year the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE), an academic and expert body that advises the CFS, released a report entitled “Agroecological and other innovative approaches for sustainable agriculture”, to which the civil society contributed.

The report “shows the promise of agroecology”. It shows that “agroecology is not starting from a level playing field in terms of public policy and evidence base, but really calls for that to be redressed”, added Kirtana.

“At this session of the CFS the governments have welcomed this evidence-based report of the HLPE, which we think as civil society is a very good basis to start negotiating from a strong position of what we want for agroecology. They have agreed to start this process which will go on for a year, until next October at the CFS47, to agree policy recommendations for agroecology. We know as civil society it´s going to be a huge struggle”.

“We will be following this process very closely as Friends of the Earth International, but we really need the political and evidence power of civil society all over the world behind us, in terms of putting pressure on the national governments, so that we can really show […] that people are watching them and they can’t just do whatever they like”, she concluded