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Newsletter no 28 - Boxes

Tuesday 13 December 2016, by Manu

Box 1 - “Getting into a bind”: trade and investment regime blocks the development of agroecology and access to land

Small-scale food producers are
moving ahead with the exchange of
knowledge, practices and movements for
agroecology. Evidence from the ground
shows that with appropriate public
investments they can make even greater
strides in achieving food sovereignty
through action on agroecology. But
current trade and investment agreements
being signed by countries are actively
blocking progress on agroecology.

These agreements are focused on
attracting agribusiness and are geared
towards generating profits for them.
This is being done by opening new
markets through trade and investment
liberalisation, using bilateral investment
treaties (BITs), free trade agreements
(FTAs), conditional loans, and aid

Provisions in all these agreements
undermine and supersede the
sovereignty of states and hinder
their ability to develop or protect their
economies or social and environmental
interests. At the same time they
provide comprehensive promotion and
protection for agribusinesses’ profits at
the cost of states’ and peoples’ welfare.

Key instruments are
i) Investor-State
Dispute Settlement (ISDS) which
enables corporations to sue states for
billions of dollars in secret arbitration
courts for implementing economic,
social or environmental policies that
may impede profitable activities.

ii) Agribusiness investment promotion
policies such as tax-free zones,
unilateral tariff reductions, subsidies
for the consumption of services (such
as electricity and water), subsidies for
hiring and training workers. Favorable
policies for agribusinesses are also
often insisted upon by donors providing
development assistance or food aid.

iii) Requirements to give foreign
agribusinesses equal or better
conditions than local businesses.

iv) Banning of performance
requirements such as requirements
to hire from the national workforce or
transfer technology.

But food sovereignty and economic
justice movements are fighting back!

To read the full report :

Box 2 - Food Sovereignty takes root in Eastern Europe

The second Nyéléni Europe forum on food sovereignty took place
in Cluj-Napoca, Romania from the 26th to the 30th of October and
brought together more than 500 participants from 40 European
and Central Asia countries.

After five days of discussions, the groundwork has been laid
through the planning of multiple actions and strategies to take
back and re-localise Europe’s food systems. A huge diversity of
people were present, including farmers, food and agricultural
workers, trade unionists, researchers, activists, fisherfolk,
pastoralists, indigenous peoples, consumers, NGOs and human
rights defenders.

A major accomplishment of the forum was the convergence of
Eastern European and Central Asian organisations/movements,
which initiated talks on collective regional strategies and stepped
up the coordination of the food sovereignty movement there. The
convergence also recognised the Mali declaration on agroecology
as the basis for the European region to scale up agroecology in
order to achieve food sovereignty.

The process towards the forum started in December 2015, when
several organisations throughout Europe gathered in Paris to
discuss the structure and functioning of a new Nyéléni Europe
Coordination Committee, which three months later in March 2016
sent out the call for participation in the 2nd forum. The preparation
work has been carried out by one full time coordinator and several
working groups dealing with fundraising and financial issues, the
establishing of a new website and newsletters, the preparation
of the agenda and inputs of participants to the content of the
forum, as well as the technical work done by COATI to ensure
interpretation can happen in nine key languages with 60 volunteer

Major part of the preparation of the forum has been the
establishment of contacts and delegations in several countries,
where neither of the initiators of the process had contacts. The
result is a functional list of focal points per country.

The gathering is an important stepping stone for the building of a
strong food sovereignty movement in Europe, especially Eastern
Europe and important for the dynamics in several other European
countries where no platforms exists. It is also a first step towards
structuring the movement and giving it visibility with the planning
of common actions.

Box 3 - Building public policies for Agroecology

The International planning committee for Food Sovereignty
(IPC) has been involved in the debate instigated by the Food
and Agricultural Organization of the UN (FAO) about what public
policies can be proposed to help agroecology. In the framework
of this process the FAO organized an international symposium
on agroecology for food security and nutrition in September of
2014, where it was agreed to decentralise the discussions and
conversations through regional symposiums.

In 2015 the FAO, the IPC and a number of governments and
academics organized symposiums in Latin America and the
Caribbean (June), Sub-Saharan Africa (November) and in Asia
and the Pacific (November). Following up on these symposiums
in 2016 the regional conference of the FAO analysed the results
of the meetings on agroecology and agreed on the following
steps at a regional level to promote agroecology. In the last
months, two more regional symposiums have been organised,
as well as one specifically for and in China. Once again civil
society, the FAO, governments and academics will meet in Latin
America and the Caribbean (September) and in Europe and
Central Asia (November).

In Latin America and the Caribbean a regional agenda of
work between different participants and open to others was
agreed upon, in order to: make visible the centrality of artisanal
fishing and the contribution of agroecological agriculture to it;
formulate and implement policies and legal frameworks for the
promotion of agroecology from and to the territories, with social
participation; to expand the generation and management of
evidence-based knowledge on agroecology, integrating scientific
knowledge with indigenous ancestral knowledge and practices
from diverse sectors; promote institutional mechanisms for
agroecological production and marketing; guarantee popular
rights to seeds, water, land and territories; promote agroecology
by valuing and respecting life and human rights, highlight the
international peasant declaration; suggested the celebration of
the International Year of Agroecology.

In Europe and Central Asia, at the proposal of civil society
organizations, it was agreed to comprehend Agroecology
beyond the technical aspects of production and include social,
cultural, political, economic and environmental aspects, from an
intersectoral perspective. However, a critical issue is the need
for governments, in addition to accepting the positive impacts
of agroecology, to implement public policies for its support. The
IPC gave a very positive evaluation of the symposium as a good

The symposiums continue to generate further opportunities to
strengthen the links between the different actors involved in