Today, thousands of rural peoples, people’s organizations, CSOs, and advocates kicked off The Global People’s Summit (GPS) on Food Systems through various online and on-ground activities to challenge the corporate agenda of the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UN FSS), happening on September 23 in New York.
With the theme “Resist! End the global corporate food empire!,” the three-day counter-summit is the culmination of activities held since early this year to expose and oppose the control of big corporations over food and agriculture the corporate capture of the UN, as exemplified by the key roles given to Bill Gates and other capitalist-controlled institutions in shaping the UN FSS agenda and outcomes.
“The UN FSS, which has been under fire by civil society and people’s organizations for its blatant subservience to corporate interests, has tried to repackage itself superficially as a ‘People’s Summit.’ A true and legitimate People’s Summit should put the hungry and marginalized — landless farmers, agricultural workers, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk, rural women, youth, rural people living in occupied areas, and sanctioned peoples — at the helm of agenda-setting in the radical transformation of our food systems,” said Razan Zuayter, global co-chairperson of the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS).
According to Sarojeni Rengam, PAN Asia Pacific executive director, the Global People’s Summit on Food Systems directly challenges the “global corporate food empire” that exploits and oppresses small food producers who feed the world.
“These corporations are out to further consolidate their control of land, seeds, agricultural inputs and markets by embedding themselves even deeper into policy-making processes of the UN and its member states, as what we are witnessing now with the UN FSS. In the guise of helping ‘transform’ food systems, they’re actually peddling discredited market-based ‘solutions’ and techno-fixes that are responsible for much of the widespread hunger and environmental destruction we are experiencing,” said Rengam.
Zuayter followed, “Food systems can be transformed through the respect of food sovereignty via the will of landless peasants, small farmers, and fishers. The Global People’s Summit is a space to listen to their aspirations. We cannot succeed in our efforts without ending the use of food as a weapon in the context of war, militarization, sanctions and occupation.”
The GPS Opening on September 21 features testimonies on how rural peoples from the Global South–in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and West Asia-North Africa–envision and work for just, equitable, healthy, and sustainable food systems. There will be a moderated panel discussion regarding the critique on the UN FSS and its outcomes. Personalities will give solidarity messages and “peasant heroes” will be given tribute as well.
The next day, September 22, global side events will tackle the transformation of food systems through people-led agroecology, putting local food first, and asserting people’s food sovereignty. These will revisit the basic principles of food sovereignty and how it challenges the corporate agenda of the UNFSS. There will also be simultaneous national conferences, workshops, summits, and community mobilizations in Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, India, and Cambodia.
On September 23, the day of the UN FSS, organizers of the GPS will spearhead a global action on-ground and online protest. Rallies will take place at the UN headquarters in New York, led by the International Women’s Alliance, International Migrants Alliance, and the International League of People’s Struggle, as well as in front of UN’s country office in Jakarta, Indonesia, organized by Front Perjuangan Rakyat-FPR Indonesia (People’s Struggle Front of Indonesia). Fisherfolk group PAMALAKAYA in the Philippines will also mobilize in front of the country’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
A social media rally will also take place the whole day using the hashtags #Hungry4Change and #OurFoodSystems.
The GPS will also be holding its two-hour Closing Plenary simultaneous with the UN FSS and rally in New York at 9 a.m. EDT. Dubbed as the “Speak Out for Just, Equitable, Healthy, and Sustainable Food Systems,” it will put forward the People’s Action Plans based on sectoral, thematic and regional workshops held since early this year. A draft People’s Declaration for the radical transformation of the current food regimes towards just, equitable, healthy, and sustainable food systems will also be presented.
“We are the real People’s Summit. We have shown that the people are hungry for real change, and are willing to do whatever it takes to fight for and reclaim their land, their rights, and the future of food systems,” Zuayter concluded.
The GPS is co-organized by 22 regional and international organizations:
People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS)
PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP)
Asian Peasant Coalition (APC)
Arab Group for the Protection of Nature (APN)
Arab People for Food Sovereignty (ANFS)
Eastern and Southern Africa Small-scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF)
Indigenous Peoples’ Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL)
Coalition of Agricultural Workers International (CAWI)
Asian Rural Women’s Coalition (ARWC)
Global Forest Coalition (GFC)
People Over Profit (POP)
Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN)
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law, and Development (APWLD)
Stop Golden Rice Network (SGRN)
PAN North America (PANNA)
A Growing Culture
Youth for Food Sovereignty (YFS)
International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS)
International Women’s Alliance
International Migrants Alliance