World Economic Forum exerts lobby pressure on UN Food Systems Summit

“Corporate capture” of the summit denounced by Kirtana Chandrasekaran, from Friends of the Earth International

Kirtana Chandresekaran, Cuba, 2019. Ph: RMR.

For the past few months, the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism for relations with the UN Committee on World Food Security (CSM) – of which Friends of the Earth International is a member – has been denouncing the “corporate capture” of the UN Food Systems Summit by agribusiness lobbying. The summit is due to be held in September 2021 in New York.

Last November, Saul Vicente, a member of the International Indian Treaty Council, warned about this situation in an interview with Real World Radio. The CSM reiterated its criticism in February and urged the chairman of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) to “redirect” the course of the Summit. At the same time, this “capture” of the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) was denounced at the beginning of March before the Human Rights Council by Perla Alvarez, on behalf of La Via Campesina.

Here we share the statement made by Kirtana Chandrasekaran, Coordinator of Friends of the Earth International’s Food Sovereignty programme, on 8 February, the occasion of the 47th Session of the CFS. Kirtana spoke on behalf of the CSM Global Food Governance Working Group.

Chandrasekaran highlighted that we are in “a crucial moment in the history of food governance during a year in which the food system will come under great scrutiny in several UN conferences.”

“We are worried about the current direction to fold all the most important CFS achievements, knowledge and potentially future roles into the UNFSS” because the summit is “giving a leading role to the corporate sector via the World Economic Forum,” without “recognising the CFS’ leading role, and without upholding the rights and responsibilities of States, the rights of peoples.”

“As the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) shows, we must progress with all four recommendations – cementing the Right to Food, strengthening conceptually the dimensions of pillars of food security, adopting a food system analysis and making important policy shifts,” stated Chandrasekaran.

She added that the CSM, with the support from many other civil society organisations, considers that in its current form, the UNFSS “in no way addresses the challenges or recommendations made by the HLPE global narrative report”. For example: “The format and content of the summit undermines rather than promotes the Right to Food – it gets just a passing mention in one of five action tracks and human rights principles more broadly are not mainstreamed in any of the FSS processes to date or in the action track papers. While paying lip service to the need for transformation the Action Tracks are still narrowly focused on productivity and market led solutions instead of a deep food systems analysis,” highlighted Chandrasekaran.

The preparations for the summit do not take into account the power asymmetries and unequal ways in which people are impacted by inequalities and access to rights, and fail to consider the right of social participation in the decisive processes for the elaboration and implementation of food policies, said Chandrasekaran in her statement.

Watch the full plenary statement below.

Latest letter from the CSM to the Chair of the CFS about the UNFSS, including links for organisations to sign the letter:


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