ARE YOU #HUNGRY4CHANGE? A call to arms against unjust, inequitable, unhealthy and unsustainable food systems

Closing statement delivered by Sylvia Mallari, global co-chairperson of the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty, on the June 5 media launch of the Global People’s Summit on Food Systems.

Good day everyone, I am Sylvia Mallari of the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty, a growing Global South-led network of grassroot organizations of small food producers working towards food sovereignty, and a co-organizer of the Global People’s Summit on Food Systems. 

As we speak, food prices are soaring across the globe in levels not seen in a decade. 

The growing global inflation amid widespread recession is pushing millions of poor people to worsening hunger, especially in the Global South like in Pakistan and Brazil. 

This, despite food production breaking record highs yet again.

This disgusting conundrum of starvation amid plenty, 

of global food corporations posting billions in profit while food producers themselves starve, 

of some governments bombing and killing off rural and indigenous populations in Palestine, in the Philippines, in Colombia, in West Papua, in Burma and elsewhere just to plunder their lands in the name of “pandemic recovery”

of heavily subsidized multinationals from the US, Europe, and China drowning out the voices of the poor and hungry of the rural Global South in policy floors and decision making 

THIS is the very reason why we need to RADICALLY TRANSFORM the global food systems. 

However, as mentioned by our co-organizers and partners, there is no sign nor any indication that the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit is posed to confront any of that, except to “rebrand” the very same tech-heavy and, frankly, imperialist neoliberal agenda, that created these unjust and inequitable global food systems in the first place. 

To confront the current “green,” “blue,” and “sustainable” -washing happening in the official process, and to highlight the key solutions that movements have been forwarding for decades, we’re linking arms today for the Global People’s Summit. 

Since last year, through the #Hungry4Change campaign, the Coalition and its key members such as PAN AP and the Asian Peasant Coalition as well as allies have continued to gather momentum in developing actionable, pro-people and pro-planet alternatives to radically transform the food systems. 

With over a hundred organizations saying no to the corporate capture of the UNFSS, the GPS is borne out of the long-standing discontent in the ever-increasing role of corporations in controlling global food systems – now being enabled by the partnership of the UN and the corporate lobby World Economic Forum. 

As a grassroots and South-led initiative, the GPS aims to put the voices of the marginalized at the helm of agenda-setting in the transformation of our food systems. 

At the heart of transforming our food systems are the national food sovereignty and peasant movements. National consultations, dialogues, and summits in at least 19 countries in the Global South will be held between today and August – 9 from Asia, 3 from Africa, and 7 from Latin America. 

These will produce national agendas in transforming the food systems, domestic analysis in barriers of development in food and agriculture, and demands to break new grounds in the transformation. 

There will also be Sectoral consultations and summits which will highlight the marginalized voices and consolidate the vision, demands, and aspirations of the toiling sectors that are the backbone of today’s global food system. These voices, of landless farmers and agricultural workers, of rural women, of indigenous people’s, of fisherfolks,  of the rural youth, are those displaced in the UNFSS yet they bear the brunt of feeding the world. 

Four regional Summits in Asia, West Asia and North Africa, Africa, and Latin America will also be held to consolidate and develop national agendas and highlight regional solutions and demands for regional and global policy and development arenas. 

Rural communities, peoples organizations, peoples movements and civil society have long been providing actionable solutions to the current food and rights crisis. To support and develop the national and sectoral agendas, Thematic Research Workshops will be held between July and August. These workshops will include the following: On Peoples Food Sovereignty, On the Right to Food, On Community-led Agroecology, On the Peasant Right to Land, On Multistakeholderism, On Wars, Occupation, Sanctions, and Conflict. 

Meanwhile, a grassroots campaign to broaden and popularize the four pillars of transformation is also ongoing. Under the #Hungry4Change banner, we have recently launched the Global Day of Action against Corporate Capture of Food Systems last April 22, which Saro had mentioned earlier.

Our partner organizations are also organizing various events, virtual and on-ground, to promote and highlight these pro-people, and pro-planet solutions. 

We intend to confront these corporations, their enablers, and their agenda to the ground. In July, as a counter Pre-Summit, we’re launching on-ground mass actions in the Philippines and elsewhere to highlight the disenfranchised voices. 

In September, we intend to gather the broadest number of rural peoples, peoples organizations, CSOs, and advocates to draw up a Declaration for a radical transformation of the current food regimes towards just, equitable, and sustainable food systems. The Peoples Summit will also develop a People’s Action Plan to realize the said Goal. We aim to do the three-day Summit in a hybrid form – with street conferences in different countries as base of the global virtual summit. 

On the third day, the Plenary will end with a coordinated Global Day of Action for Just, Equitable, and Sustainable Food Systems to highlight the role and engagement of the people in achieving said Goal. 

There is an urgent need to reclaim our voices today, especially today that we are at the cusp of fresh waves in landgrabbing and plunder, hunger amid plenty, neocolonialism, and neoliberal subversion of our rights, our planet, and our future to profit. 

We urge everyone who stands with the rural food producers, our planet, our future, to join us and, together we can build a future of just, equitable, healthy, and sustainable food systems. ###

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