In the spotlight 1
Digitization, agribusiness and the pastoralist movement
One of the main effects of globalization is the loss of local, regional and national control over economic and political decision-making, a power that has shifted into the hands of globalized actors. At the same time, we are witnessing how global financial capital is becoming increasingly hidden and clandestine. Within this same globalization dynamic, factors affecting food systems, such as land management, price regulation or phytosanitary regulations, are increasingly being determined by international actors. This process of the displacement of sovereign power has many effects on large-scale livestock farming and pastoralism.
Extractivist projects, land privatization, or the demarcation of protected natural areas to the exclusion of local communities, are some of the main problems for small-scale food producers as they dispossess them of their lands.
At the same time, there is a push on the part of the markets to generate economies of scale: macro-farms with thousands of individual animals, and a high concentration in the food chain of pig and poultry farming. This model of livestock farming exploits people, animals and the environment, transforming the work of caring for livestock on a small scale, under industrial logic. Robotization is advancing by leaps and bounds: milking machines, feeding machines, barn cleaning machines…, all to increase the volume of production, while the prices of products such as milk or lamb are increasingly lower and inputs such as feed are rising. This imposition of “growth or die” capitalism is destroying the dairy sector and family livestock farming, and only a few can survive.
Organizations such as the World Economic Forum (WEF) or the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, which represent corporate interests, are increasingly strong in the UN. This means that we are facing a scenario where global public governance is being privatized. Proof of this is how the WEF has influenced the UN as the official sponsor of the UN Food Systems Summit, or UNFSS, which has been rejected and boycotted by the food sovereignty movement.
In addition, this excessive power that financial capital exercises over the real economy is deepening with digitization. In the food sector, digitization is having an impact on land management and natural resource management. Geo-stationary satellites are playing an increasingly important role in decision making. The new CAP Eco-Schemes will require each herd to have GPS tracking on 30% of the animals. Previously, the EU also wanted to impose identification chips for each animal. These processes have a whole series of negative consequences for organizations linked to sovereignty, as they exclude them from decision-making. Territorial management issues are digitized while, in rural areas, connectivity is very precarious. The implications of this change in the technological matrix are compounded by the digital divide and financing problems.
The very governance of digitization is private, there is no body dedicated to regulate this new field of dispute. The food sovereignty movement is creating alliances with movements working on the technological issue, since in the present and near future, this is one of the fields where we have to assert our rights and our sovereignty. Undoubtedly, many mechanisms and structures of democratization are still missing. We are fighting for an international public technological structure.
It is not enough to exercise sovereignty at the local or national level – we must organize ourselves to act globally as well, with a political strategy that seeks participation in international public institutions in order to democratize these spaces and be able to influence them. This process would make it possible to confront the challenges of globalization and the unbridled accumulation of wealth.
In the spotlight 2
Environmentalism and pastoralism, an apparent opposition
In September of this year, the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Congress, a powerful organization that brings together the main environmental conservation NGOs, was held in Marseilles. That same month, indigenous people and producers from different parts of the world met under the slogan “Our land, our nature, for the decolonization of nature conservation”, representing an alternative reinterpretation of how and by whom the stewardship of the environment is carried out. IUCN has not been free from scrutiny. As have organizations central to it, such as WWF or the Sierra Club, which have been accused of abusive practices towards indigenous peoples, and of racism.
A few years ago, WAMIP denounced how a report by the IUCN itself on measures to “protect nature” in the Ngorongoro region (Tanzania), advised “to remove pastoralist communities from the area”. In a few days the army violently evicted thousands of people from the environment they have grazed for millennia, to make way for new hotels and tourist safaris.
The conservation model with the most economic power that dominates the collective imagination is fortress conservation. This model is based on the erroneous and racist belief that the best way to protect biodiversity is through the creation of protected areas where human influence is suppressed. Its philosophy is that indigenous populations worsen biodiversity loss and environmental degradation, despite the lack of scientific and historical evidence and ample evidence to the contrary.
This model is defended by some international and transnational NGOs such as WWF, WCS or African Parks, is spreading worldwide, and underpins the argument for the creation of natural parks without taking into account the knowledge and experience of pastoralists and rural citizens.
The origins of the fortress conservation model are colonial and racist. Since 1970, more than 1900 parks or protected areas have been created, most of which are in the global south. Currently, summits such as the IUCN Congress are promoting the so-called 30×30 – a plan to convert 30% of the planet into Protected Areas.
From a critical position within environmentalism, we denounce and actively fight against these false measures that, far from presenting solutions to the current situation of climate and social urgency, reproduce the interests of the prevailing economic system, based on the exploitation of finite resources of a planet that has long since collapsed, which, as scientific evidence and human experience show, is not only unsustainable but also directly responsible for climate chaos and the resulting social injustice.
The only sustainable, just and real solutions do not give in to capitalist, colonial and racist interests. The real solutions to climate chaos depend on humanity, on our characteristic diversity and particularly on indigenous peoples and other local communities and their right to land; given that it is diverse indigenous peoples who protect 80% of the most biodiverse areas of the planet in their lands.
We need a model of nature conservation that puts care, diversity and human rights at the center, and confronts the real causes of climate chaos: overconsumption and exploitation of resources led by the global north and its industry.