Food and Rights for All multi stakeholder digital dialogue | #Hungry4Change
Rural Voices: Food and Rights for All
A digital dialogue on the rural people’s demands and
recommendations to the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit
Register to join: http://bit.ly/StandwithFarmers
The new pandemic disease COVID-19 has been wreaking havoc in the world today. Ever since it was declared as pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) early March, many countries have started to implement lockdown and quarantine policies to contain the virus. However, this has been increasingly impacting food supplies as demands rise and productions derailed. While many are concerned in supplying food to the cities, the farmers and small food producers in the rural areas are also greatly affected as their harvests are left undelivered and rottened due to the strict lockdown and quarantine policies.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed how the world is unprepared for it from basic health care to food security. Instead of providing the basic needs of the people, the draconian lockdown policies have been negatively impacting the rural poor. This has been true to many countries in the global South. These countries are known to have vulnerable populations, they also lack strong local food production and are dependent on imports. Decades of corporate grabbing of their lands and capacity to produce food have made these populations even more vulnerable.
The strict lockdown policies in the global South has also been leading to many human rights violations. Aside from installing curfews, there are also local policies that prohibit free speech even online such as in the Philippines, India, South Africa, Latin America, among others. These human rights violations alongside lack of mass testing and insufficient support to local health care systems in the global South are worsening the situation.
The rise of human rights violations and intensifying hunger amidst the spread of the virus is a more critical situation for the rural poor. The rural poor are the most vulnerable both to the disease and the economic implications of the pandemic, and they should be at the forefront of priorities and their human rights should be respected and upholded. This includes the right to access and produce food, and management and control of their natural resources including areas suffering from war, sanctions, conflict and occupation as in many African countries, Palestine, Yemen, and Syria.
In 2021, the UN will convene a Food Systems Summit that would affirm the importance of food systems in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. The Summit also aims to synergize efforts in addressing climate change and hunger through a common framework. As the world battles COVID-19, the Summit will be an important venue to craft policies that will shape the future of food and agriculture, and its role in addressing the current and future pandemic.
However, as early as its announcement, the Summit is already highly influenced by corporate actors through the World Economic Forum (WEF). In fact, the United Nations (UN) and WEF have signed a strategic partnership framework agreement to organize and shape the Summit’s program and outcomes. It also became more controversial when the UN assigned Agnes Kalibata, former president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) as its Special Envoy to the Summit. AGRA contrary to its claims has worsened food security in Africa and has intensified industrial corporate agriculture. The partnership further exposes the corporate influence on the process side-lining again the rural and grassroots voices.
Despite this, the Summit will still be an opportune time to raise concerns and experiences of rural communities with regards to food security and human rights during the pandemic. It is also crucial to deliver rural communities demands and recommendations to the platform, as well as raise concerns on the increasing space of the corporations in shaping the future of food and agriculture, and register opposition to the UN-WEF strategic partnership framework agreement.
In this regard, the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) is initiating a Digital Multi Stakeholder Dialogue on the 9th of October 2020. The event aims to deliver demands and recommendations of rural communities with regards to addressing the food crisis and human rights situation in the process towards the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS).
The dialogue aims to invite UN agencies including Special Rapporteurs, major groups, academe, civil society groups and grassroots organizations.
The activity aims to:
- Amplify the rural voices by delivering their messages and recommendations on the food crisis and human rights situation to relevant stakeholders going towards the UN Food Systems Summit;
- Influence policy decision-making on food and agriculture and its impacts to human rights during and post-pandemic and towards the UN Food Systems Summit;
- Strengthen solidarity among rural grassroots organizations and civil society networks amid the pandemic and towards the UN FSS in 2021. ###