Switzerland’s sham World Food Summit Dialogues
Berne, 8 July 2021 – The recommendations tabled today by the Federal Office for Agriculture for the United Nations World Food Summit are largely inadequate, as they are still superficial and non-binding. Eight organisations are calling for general public and farmers to play a leading role in the root and branch reform of food systems.
To cite Jelena Filipovic, Co-founder of Landwirtschaft mit Zukunft (Agriculture of the Future) and who participated in the dialogue: ‘It is illusory to think that with one or two brief discussions between different players with opposing interests, fundamental power imbalances and conflicting objectives will simply vanish." It is of course a good thing that the Confederation is opting for a participatory approach to shaping the food systems of the future. Yet real transformation will require a much more comprehensive process that involves the general public and is aimed at policy change.
The picture is even less bright at the global level. There is a growing impression that the UNFSS is disregarding such fundamental aspects as human rights in general and farmers' rights in particular, while giving preference to one-sided technological solutions that serve the interests of agro-industry.
Non-binding negotiation approaches
The FOAG's multi-stakeholder dialogues produced only general and non-binding negotiation approaches. The city dialogues were much better, having yielded more specific and promising measures. In parallel to the dialogues at the national and local levels, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) organised a discussion round of its own. It is a matter of regret that this dialogue was conducted separately, for if the silo mentality is to be overcome and policy coherence achieved, domestic and foreign policy will have to be considered together.
The signatory organisations are advocating for agriculture that is designed to implement the right to food and is no longer dependent on chemical fertilisers and pesticides, which render soils infertile over the medium term and endanger environment and health. The scientific community as well as farmers - in the global South and in Switzerland - have long furnished proof that alternative, agro-ecological forms of agriculture are successful. Owing to erroneous policy frameworks, however, these alternatives are languishing in neglect.
The forthcoming summit is reinforcing the trend whereby global corporations are occupying ever more space in UN processes at the expense of human rights and social justice and, by extension, of the international community and civil society. "The UN is losing legitimacy in this way. It is alarming that, to a great extent, UN organisations are entrusting corporations with the task of solving the problems currently besetting food systems, when they are in part responsible for having created them," says Simon Degelo, Policy Advisor, right to seeds and biodiversity at SWISSAID.
- Simon Degelo, Policy Advisor, right to seeds and biodiversity, 076 824 00 46
- Jelena Filipovic, Landwirtschaft mit Zukunft, Co-President, 079 289 06 41