26.09.2017 |

Transform food systems to tackle the global food crisis, says report

During the crisis, global food prices soared (Photo: CC0)

The root causes of the 2007/2008 food crisis, which brought the number of hungry people in the world to a peak, are still there, according the “Right to Food and Nutrition Watch 2017”. The report, launched on September 26 by a network of civil society organizations and social movements, warns that today, despite some progress, many of the problems that led to the crisis in the first place persist. A decade ago, international prices of all major food commodities reached their highest level in nearly 30 years, pushing the number of people living in hunger to one billion. The authors emphasize that the crisis had been there all along. “The events of 2007/2008 simply brought the cracks of an unsustainable, broken food system into view, forcing policy makers to acknowledge its failures,” reads the preface. Featuring ten main articles, this 10th anniversary issue of the Watch takes stock of the past decade and looks at the challenges and opportunities ahead. The Watch sheds light on the intricacies behind the crisis, addressing climate change, unfair global trade rules, agribusiness mega-mergers, the role of women in transforming food systems and the right to food in emergency situations, just to name a few issues that are covered in the report.

The Watch says the ‘crisis’ – described by many as a multi-fold food, fuel, finance, climate and even a human rights crisis – was the result of a convergence of complex long- and short-term factors. The authors argue that for many, especially in the food sovereignty movement, the crisis did not come as a surprise: “It was the inevitable outcome of a model that prioritizes profit at the expense of everything else: our lives, our rights and our nature. The crisis was building for years and a billion people were pushed to hunger because of drastic food price volatility, and as a result of a multi-fold crisis that grew, squeezed and affected our food systems, climate and human rights.” The Watch exposes the conflictual dynamics between two opposing visions of life, production, and socioeconomic-ecological relations. In the preface, Bernhard Walter (Bread for the World - Protestant Development Service), Sofia Monsalve Suarez (FIAN International) and Marijke de Graaf (ICCO Cooperation) outline this conflict: On one side, there is the “vision of food sovereignty and vibrant local food systems centered on small-scale food producers who see food as a fundamental human right as well as the cornerstone of our identities, livelihoods, ecologies, biodiversity and sovereignty.” On the other side, “the homogenizing and hegemonic global food system, which is driven by increasingly concentrated transnational corporations and reduces food to a tradable commodity.” The pursuit of the right to food and nutrition is therefore a political struggle between opposing worldviews, they argue.

But there are also good news. The report highlights that the continuing food crisis has also served as a springboard for food sovereignty movements to advance alternatives. “Chief among these is agroecology,” write Sophia Murphy and Christina M. Schiavoni in the first chapter. “Standing in stark contrast to industrial models of production that require environmentally and economically costly external inputs while generating substantial waste and other social and environmental costs, agroecology now receives an unprecedented level of interest and visibility, including from some governments,” they argue. And social movements and civil society organizations all over the world are keeping up their struggle to transform food systems. “To have the wherewithal to feed ourselves into the future, we urgently need to build up resilient local and regional food systems and address the extreme concentrations of power in national and international markets,” Murphy and Schiavoni continue. In doing so, the central role and rights of small-scale providers and of women must be guaranteed. “The food price crisis of 2007- 2008 was an awakening. A decade on, with some powerful examples of food system transformation already at work, as well as some gains on various policy levels, there are still old habits to confront and many obstacles to overcome.” But the food sovereignty movement is ready for this challenge, the authors assure. (ab)

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Donors of globalagriculture Bread for all biovision Bread for the World Misereor Heidehof Stiftung Hilfswerk der Evangelischen Kirchen Schweiz Rapunzel
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