Newsletter no 25 – Editorial

Blocking the path of corporate governance of food systems

Illustration: Daniel Pudles,

From our oceans and seashores, crossing our lands and reaching deep into the minerals of our earth, there is a dangerous threat dominating our current political and economic relations around the world: the so-called private corporate capture of policy-making public spaces. For decades, civil society and social movements have been struggling to democratically strengthen these spaces in order to achieve the so needed peoples’ food sovereignty. But this process is under a severe threat these days.

In this Nyéléni Newsletter, we raise our voices against the growing power transnational corporations (TNCs) are gaining and the negative impact this is having on people’s lives. In times we witness the reproduction of colonial relations, where private actors – especially TNCs – have weakened and blurred the role of states, particularly within intergovernmental policy-making spaces – including the UN – every attempt to establish a global “multi-stakeholder governance” must rapidly be ruled out.

Water, seeds, land and other essential natural resources are becoming, more and more, part of the business of a small group of TNCs. This “corporatization” has been developed within the context of global initiatives such as the Global Redesign Initiative (GRI), spearheaded by the World Economic Forum (WEF). This represents a growing privatization of the governance of peoples’ food systems and nutrition, and initiatives based on this GRI logic, such as the Scaling-Up Nutrition (SUN), Coastal Fisheries Initiative (CFI) or the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition for Africa, are definitely “no-go” solutions for the peoples.

Such initiatives also represent the erosion of the role of states at international political fora – and therefore of people’s sovereignty, as they put private speculation above public interests. This leads to a kind of “corporate colonialism”, where even seeds’ genetic mapping – as proposed by “DivSeek” – happens to be a form of dispossessing peasants.

On top of that, the absence of public policies and states’ commitment to their human rights obligations have led to the TNCs pursuing their activities with impunity. As echoed in this edition, crimes committed by TNCs against communities in Nigeria or the privatization of cities in Honduras, show the urgent need for states to start urgently regulating TNC’s actions. This is also why civil society call for an international binding instrument to fully regulate and sanction TNCs’ activities as a very first step to protect and reaffirm peoples’ sovereignty globally.
Together with social movements and civil society organizations, we must work to reinvent and rebuild public policy spaces at the local, national, regional and international levels. Only through a strong linkage between these spheres, can peoples’ sovereignty be exercised worldwide.

Sofia Monsalve, FIAN International