CONFERENCE CONFRONTING FOOD CRISIS AND CLIMATE CHANGE,
27-29 SEPTEMBER 2009, PENANG, MALAYSIA
We, 113 participants from 22 countries representing peasants, small farmers, agricultural workers, women, indigenous peoples’, fisherfolk organizations, and health, environmental and consumers CSOs met in the Conference on Confronting the Food Crisis and Climate Change from 27-29 September, 2009 in Penang, Malaysia.
We met in the midst of the worst global recession of the century and a global financial crisis. This is the worst in the cycle of crises of monopoly capitalism, now manifesting in the collapse of global financial institutions and speculative international markets. Another consequence of monopoly capitalism is the global food crisis which is compounded by climate crisis. With the collapse of food self-sufficiency due to globalization, the massive speculation in the global commodities market and the expansion of agrofuel policies have resulted in spiraling food prices and hence, the food crisis.
The climate crisis has been caused by unprecedented unsustainable industrial development, chemical intensive agriculture and overproduction under monopoly capitalism mainly in the developed countries since the last 200 years and intensified in the last 3 decades. Both the food and climate crises are exacerbated by imperialist globalization, a process to ensure the expansion of markets for excess goods and capital to secure super profits. The over-consumption and unsustainable lifestyles of affluent societies have further contributed to the crises.
In food and agriculture, the globalization process has intensified the expansion of corporate monopoly control over the food chain from production to marketing and the exploitation of rural labour, natural resources and biodiversity. It has further marginalized and impoverished indigenous peoples, women, dalits, small and marginal farmers, and fishers. Corporate monopoly of agriculture through the collusion of landlords, autocratic and corrupt governments and other elites has caused great misery for peasants and other rural people. Governments have reneged on their responsibility to uphold the rights and welfare of the people.
The food and climate crises indicate the failure of the FAO, CGIAR, IFIs and national governments in addressing hunger and perpetuating the paradigm of toxic, unsustainable growth for profit. The call by G8 countries for a new global governance on food and agriculture in response to food crisis is a renewed offensive that will only further entrench corporate control on food and agriculture production. Subsequently, the current initiative for the World Summit on Food Security in Rome in November 2009 drives the same agenda of corporate agriculture. Despite the fact that the World Food Summit in 1996, the corporate model of agriculture was heralded as the solution to end world hunger and it brought us the food crisis and increased hunger for our people.
Corporate farming systems such as plantations, intensive aquaculture and livestock systems, floriculture, contract farming and now, agrofuel production, perpetuate the over-exploitation and pollution of lands, forests, seeds, waters, marine resources and other natural resources that have been the sources of livelihood for small food producers. Moreover, the resultant loss of biodiversity and the diminishing number of crop varieties grown worldwide are major concerns for small producers who depend on such biodiversity for their survival. The introduction and forced expansion of genetically engineered crops (GE) is increasingly threatening the agro-biodiversity in the fields and, reports of health impacts and environmental contamination by GE crops are cause for grave concern. Hazardous pesticides and chemicals also harm human health and the environment.
Moreover, climate change adversely impacts food production, deepens the food crisis and exacerbates rural poverty, joblessness and misery, as people face crop losses through droughts, floods and climatic disasters. In the meantime, corporations including agrochemical and agribusiness companies are continuing their unsustainable form of production through “carbon trading” schemes. Worse, they have seized the opportunity to amass more profits with the use of public funds in so-called carbon emissions reduction technologies and projects. Adaptation and mitigation technologies are not the final solutions to climate crisis. The final solution is through people-oriented ecological development. This should be the target for adaptation funding through mechanisms that are directly channelled to communities rather than through the World Bank and its corporate-oriented technologies. This will meet the principle of compensation for centuries of ecological debt of the North to the South.
In the face of the greater challenges posed by the food crisis and climate change, the people now have to struggle even more to confront oppressive structures and institutions.
As we, women, face the greatest burden from calamities, war, crises and displacement, we must struggle harder against patriarchy, fundamentalisms and extremisms, and endeavor for full participation and involvement.
As we, peasants, lose our livelihood and land, and are forcibly exiled from our communities, we have to fight much harder against the onslaught of corporate land grabbing and for our rights.
As we, agricultural workers, continue to slave in pesticide-drenched corporate farms and plantations, we need to struggle even more for our rights, jobs, lives and livelihoods.
As we, the fisher people, are further displaced by corporate fishing and intensive industrial aquaculture as well as corporate coastal and offshore development projects, we have to struggle even more to conserve, gain access, manage and control marine and aquatic resources as well as fishing implements.
As we, indigenous peoples, lose our ancestral domains due to land grabbing and corporate exploitation, we have to defend our indigenous knowledge, ancestral history and legends, culture and our very lives.
As we, the working people as consumers, deprived of nutritious, safe, adequate, culturally appropriate food and pushed to unnatural and unsustainable lifestyles, we must strive even more to tackle the negative effects of all crises and, exert our right to food and our responsibilities as conscious, ethical and ecological consumers.
We will be resolute in our struggle to put people and the planet first over profits. We will work together to regenerate and restore nature and society.
We have gathered now to further strengthen and consolidate our movements to advance food sovereignty, gender justice and climate justice. We will work with full dedication and commitment to:
- Fully resist corporate monopoly control over food and agriculture;
- Advocate for the establishment of compensatory funds to support communities’ capacity to address the impact of climate change;
- Advance genuine agrarian, fisheries, forestry and pastoral reforms that ensure gender justice and the rights of women to land and productive resources;
- Assert food self-sufficiency in our societies and stop land use conversions;
- Advance the rights of indigenous peoples over ancestral land and domains as well as protect and uphold indigenous knowledge and wisdom as basis of ecological agriculture and sustainable development;
- Defend the rights of marginalized communities, ethnic minorities and Dalits.
- Stop the killings of and violence against peasants, agricultural workers, fisherfolks and indigenous peoples struggling for their peoples’ rights;
- Ensure market access for the poor and marginalized people, and fair price for their harvests;
- Promote local knowledge particularly the nurturing values and expand biodiversity-based ecological food production as foundation for food self-sufficiency;
- Promote and support community-based seed and grain conservation systems;
- Build stronger links between consumers and small food producers to promote the production and consumption of affordable, local, ecologically produced and safe food, and to work towards ethical consumption and sustainable lifestyles;
- Protect the rights and well-being of agricultural workers and their communities, and ensure fair wages for them;
- Promote pro-people, farmer-led research technologies and institutions;
- Resist imperialist globalization, fundamentalism, feudalism, patriarchy, militarization and, autocratic and corrupt governments, and end racial, caste and all other forms of discrimination.
- Endorse the People’s Protocol on Climate Change which provides the framework of our demands for climate justice based on the principles of social justice, sovereignty, respect for the environment, gender justice and, responsibility and call for an economic system that is sovereign, socially just, democratic and ecologically sustainable.
We call for the people’s right to food and uphold People’s Convention on Food Sovereignty* as the sustainable framework for food production and distribution, and for national and international trade and investment policies.
Sarojeni V. Rengam
Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific
P.O. Box 1170, 10850, Penang, Malaysia
Contact Number: +604 657 0271 or +604 656 0381
* as adopted during the People’s Convention on Food Sovereignty held in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 27th November, 2004