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How can we Prevent Future Crises: The Butterfly Effect at the Time of Global Pandemics



“The whole world is in conflict, confusion and chaos, but there’s great news! We can fix it because we don’t have the thousands of problems most of us think we do, we have thousands of symptoms of ONE problem.”

Nature’s knowledge is, without question, intuitive but, if we were to successfully do what we used to do, we’d have to go back millions of years to a time when we had not learnt to control fire and had no technology but sticks and stones, because in nature, there is no other technology.”

By Sarah Savory, Savory Global

The last few weeks have clearly shown every one of us just how intricately connected we all are. And how incredibly vulnerable we all are.

We have seen how one small action, or decision, made on one side of the world can soon affect people on the other side of the world.

It has shown us how our corporate, materialistic, technological, money-driven lifestyles will do absolutely nothing in the face of things if we don’t take care of our natural world and the life-giving soil that all life on earth depends on for survival. Including us.

It has shown us how important local businesses and farmers are.

And, above all, it has shown every last one of us that nature doesn’t give a damn how much money anyone has, what our race, religion, political view, culture, status, or general opinion is: if we don’t look after our natural world, nature can, and will, ultimately have the final say, and when it comes to looking after our environment and addressing biological issues, no amount of technology is ever going to save us. Or stop her.

“All life depends on the plant’s ability, through photosynthesis, to convert sunlight energy into edible forms, so does every economy, every nation and every civilization.” ~Allan Savory, Holistic Management, A Commonsense Revolution to Restore Our Environment

Did you know that almost every problem we have is a symptom of a universal, instinctive decision-making process that every single one of us is born with? Our brains literally don’t have any idea how to deal with the social, economic and environmental complexity we were creating for ourselves as our

technology advanced. Before we learnt to control fire, our technology was simple sticks and stones. Simple tools meant we could do no harm to our environment and this meant that our decision-making could be based on our simple needs and desires without causing problems or having any long-term knock-on consequences. But as our technology advanced, our social behavior began to change, throwing us out of balance with our ecosystems, which resulted in us having the ability to do increasing harm to our environment with almost every decision we made. But our decision-making process has never evolved to accommodate for that change.

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Some people get confused at this point and think that it is being suggested we go back to the stone age: it is quite the opposite – we still make our decisions the exact same way we did in the stone age and now it is vital to update our thought process in order to get our natural world into balance with our technological advances – because while most of us could survive without technology, not a single one of us can survive if we destroy our environment.

What we are seeing globally right now is known as institutional stupidity. We are seeing endless unintended consequences of our outdated, and now reductionist decision making process: causing fear, death and chaos across the world. This latest symptom started with the Chinese Government trying to keep the coronavirus under wraps. But that is just the very tip of the iceberg.


As soon as we understand complexity and what it does in man-made organisations (which are complex) there is little mystery in the stupidities and the ever-increasing symptoms of it surrounding us.

There is a new decision-making process that has been developed which enables us to successfully accommodate for the new complexity we’ve created for ourselves, and though it is simple to put into practice, the change doesn’t come naturally to any of us – it takes a bit of effort to learn how to do it. But before we get onto that, we must understand why this paradigm-shifting change is so vital to our future:

The first key to understanding this is for us to be able to differentiate between things that are complicated and things that are complex: everything we make (technology) is complicated, but not complex. This means that the things we make cannot self-organise and generally won’t work if a part is missing, fuel runs out or a battery goes flat, Things we make don’t do anything unexpected – they do exactly what we design them to do. Problems with complicated things are relatively easy to solve given enough time and money. But everything we manage is self-organising, or complex. For example: if a person leaves an organisation, or if a species dies out in an ecosystem, the whole can adjust and continue, even though it will be in slightly changed form. Unexpected things are happening all the time in complex systems. Which makes problems in them almost impossible to solve. This is why scientists refer to them as “wicked” problems.

Take the world today: if you look at the last 100 years, you will see that when it comes to everything we make, we have had endless successes: our technology has taken off on steroids and we have been so obsessed and impressed with it that nobody seems to be noticing a terrifying fact: at the same rate that our technology is advancing, everything we manage is collapsing. This is no coincidence.

It is because complex systems can only function in wholes, which means that no part can function, or have decisions made for it, in isolation of that whole without eventually affecting something else within that system (or organisation.) But due to our instinctive decision-making ‘software’ we are unable to account for that – we simply haven’t known how to develop policies in a way that takes complexity into consideration, which has resulted in centuries of our governments and organisations causing devastating knock-on consequences on our planet across the world. Every policy decision made like this starts a ripple effect, which may seem small and insignificant at first, because they have achieved the initial objective of the policy, but further down the line there will inevitably be negative impacts on our environment, which will cause knock-on negative impacts on our societies and economies. And the more symptoms we create, the more problems we think we have to try and solve, so we focus on those, and the more we do that, the more we speed up the damage and collapse. It’s a vicious circle but we can stop it.

We are going to be able to stop this from happening as soon as enough of us have understood that no man-made organisation, or government, thinks or acts like an individual – as soon as we form any organisation, which is a complex system, it automatically takes on a life of its own and because the instinctive way we make decisions never takes complexity into account, every decision, or policy, that comes out of any organisation will lack humanity, empathy and/or common sense. For example, does it make any sense for America to produce oil to produce corn to produce fuel for vehicles? Of course not, yet thousands of institutional scientists are doing it.

It doesn’t matter what happens as a result of any organisation’s actions or policies: from people getting sick, or dying; industrial agriculture causing mass environmental destruction; mass poisonings; murder; genetically modified food; chemicals sprayed on our crops; to factory farming animals, the organisation can ever be held accountable, no matter what they do, or how much damage they cause. And even though most individuals who work within organisations will have good intentions, there is nothing they can do about the outcome, regardless of how hard they might try to change it.

Because of this, when things inevitably go wrong, organisations end up protecting the organisation itself and as a result will often go against, and cause damage to the very thing they were set up to help with in the first place: a good example of this is the Catholic Church, which circled the wagons and ended up protecting the priests and the organisation, not the children who were being abused.

No natural or man-made system that we manage will ever be able to develop sound or balanced policies for anything in the long run until the decision-making process is updated.

  • Communism – FAILED
  • Fascism – FAILED
  • Capitalism – FAILED

No political or organisational ideology has been, or ever can be, successful in the long term. We need governments to practice a completely new way of thinking and we need them to do it urgently, and it has to be based on science, not on opinions.

The good news is that a new decision-making framework has been developed and has been thoroughly put to the test and proved to be conclusively and consistently successful. It is already being used more and more amongst forward thinking individuals all around the world and is now beginning to be practiced successfully by communities and taught in schools. But incremental change is not fast enough to save us: we urgently need it being practiced at organisational and government level.

The greatest news is that we don’t have thousands of problems to solve. We have thousands of symptoms of ONE problem:

There is only one -ISM in the world that can save us now, which will work for every single person, plant and animal on our planet, and that is HOLISM.

“Holism is the science of recognising that the parts of any whole, or system (from man-made to natural systems) are in intimate interconnection, such that they cannot exist independently of the whole, or cannot be understood without reference to the whole.”

There is far more to it than just understanding what holism is. Many people over the course of history have recognised and understood this, and many have tried to take a “holistic approach,” which failed because, until fairly recently, no-one had understood that we all instinctively revert to a genetically embedded decision-making process at the point where the rubber hits the road and the decision is being made. We do this no matter how holistically we have looked at the situation – it is subconscious. Making decisions holistically is not something that comes naturally to anyone – we have to consciously re-train our brains to be able to do it and it takes a bit of practice before it gets easy: think of it in terms of needing a software update – it takes some time to get used to it. This new ‘software update’ is now available to all of us and it is so exciting.

The new ‘update’ in our management is ground-breaking. When we use it, every single one of us is able to consistently and successfully manage the unavoidable web of complexity in any situation: this framework enables everyone, from household to governments, to test whether their decisions or policies will be consistently and simultaneously socially, culturally, economically and environmentally sound for them at any given time. And, as I said, it has already been thoroughly put to the test and is being used by more and more people all around the world every day.

It is called Holistic Management and was developed in 1984 by Allan Savory, an independent Zimbabwean scientist who dedicated his entire life to finding answers to reversing desertification and land degradation, which is by far the biggest threat to all life on earth. The Holistic Management Decision Making Framework makes sure that with every decision we make, or policy we develop, we are always considering the whole under management and putting the health of our life-supporting environment first, which is intricately tied together in that web of complexity to our cultures, societies and our economies.

We cannot just “copy and paste” an idea/action, or policy, just because it has worked for someone else, somewhere else, because nobody is ever dealing with the same complexity twice. A perfect example of this is happening in the world right now: Governments in Africa are taking advice from experts in first world countries and doing whatever they suggest to curb the spread of CV19 without taking into account the completely different social, cultural, economic and environmental complexity we are dealing with here in Africa. The knock-on consequences of that could be devastating.

What works in some countries cannot automatically work in others – each individual/business/country is dealing with entirely unique complexity and needs their own unique solutions. And whether it is the first time anyone has been exposed to dealing with a situation or not doesn’t matter at all when you are dealing with complexity: while the management is reductionist, it won’t matter what decisions are made, because they will inevitably end up causing unwanted consequences later on.

It is inevitable and unavoidable, and it will happen whether it’s the first, or hundredth, time it’s being done, so even hindsight can’t help us when it comes to decision-making, particularly within organisations:

“Governments and Organisations have the same mistake on repeat, over and over and over again – not because their actions, practices, or policy decisions themselves are wrong, but because they aren’t using a management/decision making process that enables them to know when an action, practice or policy is appropriate: and that is what’s causing all the damage.

Holistic Management gives us foresight. It gives us the ability to pre-empt unwanted consequences and when it is put into practice on a big scale, it will bring about the reverse knock-on effect of what we are experiencing around the world right now and we will see our societies, economies and natural world begin to thrive.”

As soon as governments and organisations adjust and adapt to this decision making process, everything will change, because they will be taking any suggested policy ideas they have and, without getting into any conflict about who has the best idea, and instead of zooming in on any problem, they will be looking at it from the point of view of the whole and will test and find out for themselves whether each proposed action will be leading them towards their own Holistic Context, or not. And if they are in doubt about any decision, they use filtering context checks to make sure that it is sound within their own unique complexity at that time. As soon as this framework is put into practice by our governments and organisations, we will begin to see the first ever simultaneously socially/culturally sound, economically viable and ecologically regenerative policies being developed all across the world. And the human spirit will take off.

As we can see, all this is far, far bigger than any one of us, and, we must take this vital cue from nature: let us start to think in terms of the strength of the whole, not the individual: let’s put our individual differences aside and learn to work together, united in collective decision making towards a common Global Holistic Context in order to secure a future for ourselves on this planet. And, let’s collectively insist that our governments and organisations urgently begin to put this exciting new universal decision-making framework into practice so that we can ensure all our actions and policies are sound and in balance with our connected and complex world.

~Sarah Savory, March 2020

An excerpt from a recent interview with Allan Savory who developed this framework:

What is the philosophy behind holistic management?

“Holistic Management is a way of managing complexity. In the 1950s I became concerned as I observed massive environmental destruction in Africa that threatened wildlife and ultimately humans. My determination to find a consistently successful solution led eventually to developing the Holistic Management Framework for management and policy development. At that point (c 1984) when the holistic framework emerged, I realised we had accidentally learned how to manage complexity in any situation: from a single person engaged in a job, to family, community, governance and beyond. At the beginning I had no idea that what I was witnessing in remote areas of Africa was global and that it was just the tip of a large iceberg – mankind’s inability to manage complexity throughout history. As Rebecca Costa concluded, “Early civilisations did not just fail because of their agriculture, but because they could not address the complexity of rising population and deteriorating environment. They shelved the problems for future generations and turned away from gaining knowledge (science) to religion and sacrifice.”

Now we are seeing this on a global scale. More than twenty civilisations have failed in all regions of the world – armies change civilisations, farmers destroy them. And all of this has only one cause: our inability to manage complexity.”

What are your expectations and hopes regarding the practice of holistic management?

“We address major issues through our organisations or institutions, not as individuals. However, human organisations are defined as “complex soft systems” and exhibit wicked problems (almost impossible to fix.) My hope is that we can get enough people insisting that policies (particularly agricultural) be developed holistically in order for our institutions to change in time to save civilisation as we know it. When we heed the research, it shows us that institutions cannot change from reductionist policy development (practiced by all nations today) to holistic policy development, until enough of the public insist on that change. There is not one case I can find of any organisation ever adopting any new paradigm-shifting insight ahead of a change in public perception – no matter what the cost, or how many lives are lost. No amount of data, evidence, danger, cost in money, or lives, changes institutions ahead of the public – institutions will never lead paradigm-shifting change.”

Allan Savory’s paper on Good Governance:

This video below shows how our decision making became reductionist and how simple it is to update it, before nature has her final say:

And the video below explains how all policies end up being reductionist, using agricultural policy as an example:


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Screen addiction, there’s still hope



Screen consumption by girls, boys and young people is rising in the scale of concern among mothers, fathers and education professionals about the risks that it entails in the mental health of this age group. Attention is the starting point and therefore there is still hope.

By Marco Trivelli, Seed Foundation, Santiago, Chile

The business objective of the applications is to generate addiction in such a way that people are interacting with the platforms for as long as possible. With more hours in front of the screen, the greater the audience to whom to expose to the publicity.

Like the gambling, tobacco, sugar, alcohol or trans fat industries, social networks have no incentive to limit consumption and face the dilemma of privileging the common good and protecting their consumers or being carried away by greed by appealing to the freedom to develop economic activities whose only limitation is not to transgress morals or good customs.

In an investigation of the prestigious Wall Street Journal newspaper carried out on the basis of studies carried out within Facebook, the largest and most powerful social network in the world, they found that there was a list of powerful characters to whom the rules of conduct were not applied and therefore the posts were not lowered or their accounts were suspended. Facebook thus avoided the bad publicity of censoring a powerful and generated traffic or views.

Famous is the case of soccer player Neymar who responded to an accusation of rape by publishing intimate images and texts on his WhatsApp without consent and which were later replicated on Facebook and Instagram. They had 56 million views before being downloaded from the web.

Internal Facebook documents also revealed the damage Instagram is doing to the mental health of millions of young people around the world. Instagram is toxic for one in three young people with an effect on eating disorders, anxiety, depression and suicides. Even when these results were generated by the company itself, Instagram defended itself by pointing out that the network did more good than bad.

The United States Congress has requested to know the internal studies carried out by Facebook as have academics and independent study centers, but the company has refused to do so, noting that the results are not conclusive. The answer turns out to be the same as other industries gave in the past.

Becoming aware that the risks of screen addiction in children and young people is decisive for their future is an excellent opportunity for the problem to be addressed in the political processes that we are experiencing in Chile. The screen requires regulation.

At Fundación Semilla we believe that self-regulation or regulation by the State is essential, but not enough. Formal and family education needs to be redesigned by offering constructive and entertaining alternatives. As a personal testimony, I can point out that the spring wind that blew on the national holiday weekend allowed us to fly a large kite together with my grandchildren. We all enjoyed ourselves and were away from the screen for an entire afternoon. Regulation and creativity gives us hope in the task of preventing screen addiction.

Marcelo Trivelli, Seed Foundation, Santiago, Chile

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Saying Yes to Food Sovereignty, No to Corporate Food Systems



No to corporate food systems! Yes to Food Sovereignty!

Read or download the Political Declaration of the People’s Autonomous Response to the UN Food Systems Summit

Confronting the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, climate chaos, increasing hunger and all forms of malnutrition, ecological destruction and multiple humanitarian crises, we, social movements, indigenous peoples’ articulations, non-governmental organizations, and academics assert our commitment to food sovereignty, and reject the ongoing corporate colonization of food systems and food governance under the façade of the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS).

Industrial food systems, global supply chains and increasing corporate control of food governance are responsible for the inextricably interconnected and existential threats faced by our populations and planet, including the climate crisis, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, land and ocean degradation, air and water pollution, hunger, marginalization, and countless human rights violations. An extractivist development model centered on corporate control of resources, policy debates, and regulatory processes has produced a global food system that has most recently left over two billion people under-nourished and economically destitute. Furthermore, ultra-processed industrial products cause malnutrition, excess weight, and obesity. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to unveil both the structural frailties and global inequities of this corporate market-based approach – a failed model that continues due to deep power asymmetries and a lack of political accountability to ensure that public institutions and policies serve the public good and demands and needs of the most vulnerable. Urgent political actions, from local to international levels based on democratic negotiation and political consensus-building, are needed to address growing inequality across and within countries, structural injustice, gender-based violence, and displacement. The status quo is simply untenable for the majority of the world’s population, and unviable for our youth and future generations. We cannot continue to divert the majority of public resources and institutional authority towards propping up false solutions that serve corporate interests and will fail to tackle these systemic global challenges.

The necessity of rights-based approaches to combating crisis
The only just and sustainable way forward is to immediately halt and transform corporate, globalized food systems. The first step on this path is fully recognizing, implementing, and enforcing the human right to adequate food, which is a human rights obligation of States and UN agencies. While foundational, the right to adequate food is indivisible from other basic human rights, such as the right to health, housing, safe working conditions, living wages, social protection, women and LGBTQIA+ rights, clean environments, and civil-political rights including collective bargaining and political participation, which collectively should be central to any transformational process. With this critical rights-based orientation, public food policy and governance must put peasants, indigenous peoples, fishers, pastoralists, workers, landless, forest-dwellers, consumers, urban and rural poor, and among these women and youth, at the center of governance and policy-making tables. Governments, and regional and international institutions, must support these constituencies’ pathways for transforming corporate food systems through agroecology and food sovereignty. We reject any empty dialogue process which ignores human rights and fails to explicitly and meaningfully elevate the agency of these food systems actors.

UNFSS: illegitimate multistakeholderism enabling corporate power

The UNFSS 2021, initiated by the UN Secretary General shortly after signing a comprehensive agreement with the World Economic Forum (WEF), fails to meet these fundamental requirements. Established by 1000 of the largest corporations in the world, the WEF and its affiliates have been controlling the Summit’s design, structure, processes, governance and content. Large multinational corporations are increasingly infiltrating the multilateral spaces of the United Nations to co-opt the narrative of sustainability, and divert it back into the channels of further industrialization with digital and biotechnologies, extraction of wealth and labor from rural communities, and concentration of corporate power in national-global governance. The capital and technology focused agenda proposed by the UNFSS reflects these corporate interests and is politically, socially, economically and ecologically destabilizing. We denounce the UNFSS 2021 for disregarding the urgent need to address the gross power imbalances that corporations hold over food systems and this UN event, and we reject false solutions which will continue to oppress and exploit people, communities and territories.

Instead of being grounded in human rights, the UNFSS is a multistakeholder forum in which all actors, whether governments, individuals, regional/international agencies, or business/corporation representatives are portrayed as equal participants. But stakeholders are not necessarily rights-holders: people’s and communities’ rights and sovereignty should not be confused with private-sector business interests. While majority of the world’s food is produced by small-scale producers and workers, this individuated multistakeholder process gives outsized power to a few powerful corporations that control food, agricultural and capital markets. The so-called Scientific Group of the UNFSS impoverishes the scientific basis for responsible policy making: it advances narrow, corporate backed narratives and excludes diverse forms of knowledge and areas of expertise such as agroecology, indigenous knowledge and human rights. The lack of adequate Conflict of Interest safeguards in the Summit processes has allowed corporate-driven coalitions to position themselves as agents for implementing public policies with public resources, but without the accountability mechanisms, mandates and transparency standards of public institutions.

We will not accept this top-down, non-transparent and unequal process of deliberations that has resulted in corporate friendly “Coalitions of Action.” The capital-intensive, proprietary technologies and products proposed as “game changing solutions” will be ecologically destructive, deepen extractivism, colonialism, patriarchy and inequality, and open up more areas for corporate expansion and control.

The failure of the UNFSS governance structure has been laid bare, as many ‘stakeholders’ are walking away from the process and no political consensus has been reached among UN member states for truly transformative pathways forward to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda. In this context we find it unacceptable that the UNFSS, as a non-normative process with an illegitimate governance structure, is attempting to infringe on and undermine the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS), which is an intergovernmental system, and the foremost and most inclusive UN multilateral body for food governance, with the authority and legitimacy to lead food system dialogues and policy-making. The UNFSS does not have this authority and violates the CFS’s mandate and reform statutes. We demand that the inclusive vision and processes of the CFS be recognized and strengthened. We also remind UN leadership that the UNFSS has no mandate or legitimacy beyond September 23rd, 2021, and we urge our governments to defend multilateralism, and rights-based and participatory policy-making, as established by CFS member states regarding the rules of participation of civil society organizations and social movements.

Food sovereignty for food system transformation

The struggle for sustainable, just and healthy food systems cannot be unhooked from the realities of the peoples whose rights, knowledge and livelihoods have gone unrecognized and disrespected. We have the viable solutions to address the systemic problems in our food systems. As we have demanded in our People’s Autonomous Response to the UN Food Systems Summit, the transformation of food systems must be ecological and socially transformative, putting forward a feminist vision of equality and justice. Since 1996, social movements and civil society have been building a global movement and community-based processes of governance around the vision of food sovereignty, based on agroecology, and the rights and aspirations of small-scale food producers, workers, indigenous peoples, women, youth and rural-urban communities.

In this 25th year anniversary of food sovereignty, we reaffirm our unity and commitment to push for radically transformative strategies which recognize peoples’ needs, accord dignity, respect nature, put people above profits, resist corporate capture, and work collectively towards a fair and decent food system for all.

Source: CSM: Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples Mechanism

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La Via Campesina: The UN Food Systems Summit is hogwash. It is a threat to peoples’ food sovereignty



La Via Campesina’s Press Statement | September 22nd 2021, Harare:

La Via Campesina is among scores of other social movements of organized small-scale food producers, workers and indigenous people boycotting the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), slated to take place in New York – September 23rd, 2021. Peoples’ movements are united in condemning the illegitimacy of this ‘summit’ and in denouncing the attempt by transnational corporations to usurp the institutional spaces within the United Nations.

Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSM) that comprise social movements including La Via Campesina has pointed out that the pre-summit events held in July are now erecting parallel governance structures. UNFSS is undermining the existing institutions and multilateral bodies responsible for developing global policy frameworks for food and agriculture. Several member states are left wondering what this Summit intends to achieve and whether its outcomes would be binding upon developing national policy frameworks. It will override the existing institutions such as the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and forebodes a corporate takeover of the global food governance.

For sure, the global food systems must undergo a radical overhaul. Rising hunger, ecological harm from food production, including deforestation, soil degradation, loss of biodiversity, decimated fisheries, polluted waters, growing rural poverty, the continued repression of peasant and indigenous movements worldwide, displacement and climate crises – all point to the need for urgent transformation. The demand to transform the global food system and skew it in favour of small-scale food producers has been a long-standing one, stated first during the Civil Society Forum in Rome in 1996.

Yet when the Secretary-General of the United Nations announced two years ago that a Food Systems Summit (FSS) would be held in late 2021, the news was puzzling. Why did the Secretary-General initiate this food summit in partnership with the World Economic Forum – a private sector body – when the FAO hosted all the previous editions after specific mandates from the Members States? To leave no further doubt about the corporate interests driving the Food System Summit, the Special Envoy appointed for the Summit, Agnes Kalibata, is the president of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). This Gates/Rockefeller funded agency is pushing high input, high tech agriculture and GMO seeds. Founded in 2006, this Alliance has worked in 13 African countries to increase productivity for 30 million smallholder farming households by encouraging industrial farming adoption. Despite AGRA’s promises of doubling crop productivity and incomes while halving food insecurity by 2020, backed by billions of donor dollars, it has been unable to provide documentation of delivering on these goals. AGRA’s failures on the continent and Ms Kalibata’s apparent conflicts of interest in her role as UNFSS Special Envoy resulted in broad resistance from social movements and civil society.

The farce of ‘inclusiveness.’

The Summit organizers follow a multi-stakeholder approach as against a multilateral arrangement. Multilateral Summits, based on human rights, with transparent decision-making processes and accountability mechanisms, are meant to prioritize the voices of rights-holders and hold governments responsible for upholding those rights. But this “UN Food Systems Summit” is based on the idea of “multi-stakeholder” – treating all stakeholders as equal, without considering power imbalances or their position in the system. This fiction of equality leaves the powerful both unchallenged and unaccountable, hiding or ignoring any conflicts of interest. By conflating private corporate interests with the public interest, it overrides and erases the latter. To advertise “inclusiveness”, it has proliferated a dizzying array of platforms, dialogues, consultations, committees, documents and forums for participation. Private citizens and governments are being drawn into these processes. Some of these are open, but many are for invited participants, bypassing and undermining autonomous, democratic organizations while favouring hand-picked individuals. The entire process lacks transparency and legitimacy. Who is making decisions? On what grounds? Who is accountable? To whom?

The guise of progressive language

In July this year, La Via Campesina was among the members of the CSM that co-organized counter mobilizations – to call out the unacceptability that has come to define this year’s food systems summit. A wide variety of attendees came together and catalyzed and amplified a counter-narrative to the official proceedings. With critical articles and pieces published in major media outlets, and several thousands of #FoodSystems4People posts on social media seen by potentially 10 million users, the counter-mobilization succeeded in reaching a broad public with its vision for genuine transformation of unsustainable food systems.

This organized resistance rattled the organizers of the official Summit. In response, they have now ramped up the use of progressive language (“sustainability”, “nature-positive-solutions”, “planetary boundaries”, “women’s empowerment”, etc.) and references to human rights in their documents. But the primary orientation of the FSS remains firmly rooted in the corporate interests that initiated it rather than the demands and rights of people producing food and those most impacted by current food systems. It continues to confirm a narrow range of scientific partisans data while ignoring the traditional and experiential knowledge of small-scale farmers, indigenous, peasant, and rural peoples. Digitalization, genetic modification, precision agriculture, and other chemical-, capital-, and fossil fuel-heavy approaches are taking centre stage because these so-called solutions are the most profitable to corporations (at the expense of the environment and farmers’ livelihoods).

As the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food notes, “Intensive industrial agriculture relies on high-input, high-output agricultural systems, dominated by large-scale specialized farms. Ever since Governments started adopting the Green Revolution in the 1950s, the world’s food systems have been increasingly designed along industrial models, the idea being that if people can purchase industrial inputs – synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and carbon-reliant machines – then they can produce a large amount of food. Productivity was not measured in terms of human and environmental health, but exclusively in terms of commodity output and economic growth.”

Unfortunately, the UN Food Systems Summit ignores all these warnings and continues to bat for an intensive corporate-led agricultural model that masquerades as “solutions”.

Forebodings of a new global governance structure?

This Summit attacks from the front and will undermine existing global policymaking spaces and institutions like FAO and the CFS. Instead, it erects a parallel architecture to suit agribusiness interests. The Summit organizers are now encouraging stakeholders to form “coalitions of action” to implement “solutions”. Governments are encouraged to develop “national pathways” with stakeholder coalitions, many of which will inevitably be dominated by those who can afford to fund them. Middle and Low-income countries are vulnerable to entering “coalitions” with investors and philanthrocapitalists, such as the Gates Foundation, to carve out “national pathways” profitable for their coalition partners.

The resistance to this parallel structure is coming from within the official Summit too. In her resignation letter (dated August 25/21), Dr Kristy Buckley, Chair of the UNFSS Governance Action Area, derided the attempts to view the global food governance “through the lens of innovation, finance, technology and data, with no regard to human rights, gender, and Indigenous Peoples”. Her statement is a vindication of what social movements have been warning for a long time.

The real solution to climate crises, hunger, distress migration and extreme poverty lies with the people. It must emerge from the principles of food sovereignty and social justice. It must recognize food as a fundamental human right and not as a commodity for speculative trade. It must respect the diverse agroecological small-scale food systems that exist in our territories.

The “UN Food Systems Summit” of 2021 is an anti-thesis to these principles and threatens peoples’ food sovereignty. La Via Campesina will not remain silent. The UNFSS has no mandate, legitimacy, or authority to extend beyond September 23rd, 2021. We must prevent the Summit’s corporate affiliates from further embedding the multi-stakeholder structure into the UN food and agriculture agencies. Throughout this week, La Via Campesina’s member organization will hold counter mobilizations in Asia, Africa and Europe. Our North American members and allies will be holding a virtual counter-summit on September 23rd to expose the real agenda behind this Summit while also presenting the elements of the radical transformation we seek in the global food systems.

Source: La Via Campesina

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