In a letter to the Chair of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS), the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples Mechanism (CSIPM) calls for an extraordinary plenary session to address the new layer of the global food crisis.
The solutions proposed so far are insufficient and fall short of real transformation to prevent future crises.
Rome, Italy. April 07, 2022. The war in Ukraine creates a new layer of global food crisis placed on top of existing crises resulting from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple conflicts and protracted crises, deep inequalities and climate change. For this reason, the CSIPM Coordinating Committee has requested an extraordinary plenary session of the United Nations Committee on World Food Securitythrough a Open letter addressed to its President Gabriel Ferrero, Spain’s Goodwill Ambassador for Global Food Security.
This extraordinary plenary session of the CFS should aim to resolve the crisis accumulated in bringing together the views and demands of all affected countries, communities and actors to develop a coordinated global policy response.
In the letterthe CSIPM notes that the new stratum particularly affects low- and middle-income countries that depend on food imports. This is the case, for example, of countries in the Middle East and North Africa, whose local production systems have been weakened in recent decades and are now heavily dependent on food imports, particularly wheat. Ukraine and Russia, making war and rising prices a major issue. destabilizing factor.
Worldwide, food prices have already been rising for some time and this increase is not only the result of a shortage of food production, as claimed by some United Nations agencies, agro-exporting countries and agro-industrial companies. On the contrary, it is above all associated with a number of factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions, concentration of power in supply chains, rising energy prices, increasing social injustice and poverty, as well than climatic disasters, exacerbated by the financialization of food and agriculture and speculation.
This increase has had devastating effects on food price inflation and the right to food of marginalized communities, particularly in low-income countries that are highly dependent on food imports and agriculture, and in developing countries. protracted conflict that depend on humanitarian food aid.
Besides, today’s global agro-industrial food system is highly dependent on fossil fuels. Food prices are directly linked to fossil fuel-based energy prices, for example, due to rising costs of fertilizers and other inputs, transport and increased biofuel production .
Another facet of this ongoing crisis is the growing competition between feed and food. Russia and Ukraine are major maize exporters, but only about 12% of the maize is consumed for food, while about 60% is used for livestock feed. Immediate efforts to respond to the food crisis, such as the allocation of additional land to increase the production of animal feed, **without challenging the deep-rooted and multiple issues **of the intensive livestock sector, will put even more pressure on the diversity of the most relevant agricultural and food production and consumption for societies in different regions of the world.
Additionally, there is a increased narrative that emphasizes the need for a more productivist approach to farming, rather than supporting small family farmers. There is also an increase in state subsidies in many cases for fertilizers, rather than support for environmentally friendly approaches or agroecology. These aspects, added to the very high carbon footprint of the war, constitute an increased threat to our planet and aggravating factors of the climate crisis.
At the moment, we see many ingredients for a growing global food price crisis: the energy crisis, international and domestic speculation, rising production costs and the concentration of power by just a handful of players in the grain trade, the production fertilizers and shipping that control international trade. Moreover, the existing regulations governing global markets are asymmetrical: they are stricter for importers than for exporters since exporting countries can easily decide to tax or limit exports in the event of a crisis.
CSIPM constituencies stress that this is not a production crisis to be solved by the usual agribusiness recipes. It is another layer of a systemic crisis that had already generated hunger and malnutrition before. The agribusiness narrative, with its narrow focus on increasing production at all costs, global value chains and short-term solutions, fails to address the structural and complex causes of crises, conflicts, inequality and climate collapse intertwined.
The Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples Mechanism makes an urgent call to redirect efforts towards a profound transformation of food systems with peasant agroecology, food sovereignty and human rights at its heart. Many countries need to reorient their economic strategies away from reliance on global value chains to pursue genuine economic diversification strategies, with local food systems at the center.
This can only be designed through strong and inclusive global food governance, with the CFS at the center, as the most inclusive intergovernmental platform for food security and nutrition.
Global discussions on policy responses to this new emergency must fully include the voices of the CSIPM as the most important actors for food security and nutrition: peasants and smallholders, indigenous peoples, women, youth, pastoralists, food and agriculture workers, landless, fishers, consumers, and urban food insecurity.
“**The Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples Mechanism stands ready to support the CFS** in taking important and decisive steps towards an immediate, healthy, inclusive, effective and globally coordinated political response to the new layer of the global food crisis, in accordance with its mandate to promote food security and nutrition, and the progressive realization of the human right to adequate food for all”, states the CSIPM Coordinating Committee.