CSOs Consultation prior to the FAO’s 31st Regional Conference for Europe (ERC)

April 26-27, 2018, Budapest, Hungary

 

More than 30 CSOs, representing  peasants, pastoralists, fishers, indigenous peoples, agricultural workers, consumers, women, youth and NGOs from Europe and Central Asia, came together at the Civil Society Consultation in Budapest on 26-27 April 2018, prior to the FAO 31st Regional Conference for Europe and Central Asia (ERC) to be held in Voronezh, Russian Federation on the 16-18 May 2018, and discussed key topics pertinent to the region and specific agenda items of the upcoming Regional Conference, as well as evaluated FAO work in the previous biennium.

 

Civil Society Consultations are meetings organized autonomously by and for Civil Society actors in the region prior to the Regional Conferences of the FAO, meant to gather civil society organizations representing the relevant constituencies of the food chain.

 

Preparation of the Consultation was done by an ad-hoc Steering Committee composed by the European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC), World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP), The World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Peoples  (ESN European Chapter / WAMIP), Centre for Support of Indigenous Peoples of the North (CSIPN), and the International Network of Community Supported Agriculture (URGENCI)

 

The Consultation was held for 2 days and it was followed by the Public Event on the ‘Recognition and the Protection of the Rights of the Small-Scale Food Producers’ on 27 April.

 

The Consultation has opened with the welcoming speeches of Lili Balogh from the hosting Hungarian organisation Védegylet, Vladimir Olegovich Rakhmanin, Assistant Director General and Regional representative of FAO for Europe and Central Asia and finally by Ramona Duminicioiu from ECVC, on behalf of the ad-hoc Steering Committee and the Secretariat of the CSO Consultation.

 

Alongside the agenda items, like creating linkages between the FAO CSOs Consultation and the Nyeleni Europe processes and current and future priorities for FAO work in the region from the perspective of CSOs, the Consultation discussed two main agenda items of the upcoming FAO Regional Conference in order to reflect the CSOs perspective at the Regional Conference through the CSOs interventions.

 

CSOs discussed one of the main themes of the Regional Conference – ‘Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems in Europe and Central Asia in a Changing Climate’ – from the perspective of Agroecology. It was outlined that agroecology, finally recognised by the FAO as the holistic approach to production and consumption of nutritious food, contributes to the truly sustainable territorial and local food systems where knowledge, territories, communities, organisations and capacity of the most affected constituencies are less and less dependent from external input. Agroecological practices represent the real innovation that is growing and multiplying all over the world. Small-scale food producers are the answer to climate change, they are the guarantee for the future because they will stop any commodification of the commons that are key if we want to give an opportunity to the youth: agroecology is a tool to make visible and respect women rights. In fact, without women and youth, there will be no agroecology.  CSOs representatives were clear that they will not allow anyone to use agroecology for green washing.

 

Regarding the second key topic of the FAO Regional Conference – ‘the Role of e-agriculture and other technologies/policy approaches in realization of sustainable food systems’, CSOs took into account the challenges and opportunities of grassroots organizations. It was mentioned that new technologies challenge all of us. E-agriculture is not innovation per se. The incredible concentration of power in the E/web economy is experienced by all. A handful number of companies are monopolizing the entire sector. Today E- agriculture is presented as the new green revolution, but no one has an idea how to regulate the control of data or what the impact on the concentration of the food sector and its consequences will be on the sovereignty of the countries on their ability to guarantee the right to food for their citizens. E-agriculture to support our model of production will be used, but we won’t allow it to be a new tool to make people more dependent and, in the future, useless, replaced by robotics!

 

To achieve a paradigm shift CSOs also demand:

 

  • Adoption of UN Declaration for the Rights of Peasants and other people working in rural areas as we reclaim a human rights approach.
  • In this sense Financial institutions must comply with this approach and have to Stop supporting models that generate malnutrition with public funding. Public funding, including climate funding has to give a clear priority to agroecology smallholders
  • Woman rights are still under attack in this Region, and all the countries called to stop questioning them and implement active policies to realize them entirely according to CEDAW.
  • While the SDG 8 is to achieve Decent Work for all, there is still a decent work deficit in agriculture and labour laws in the region are worsening, with the exclusion of agricultural workers from Labour Laws and social protection schemes. Despite the existence of an international treaty affirming migrant workers rights, they are trafficked, criminalised, constrained to work under hazardous and isolated conditions, often victims of forced labour. The mass administration of antibiotics to livestock and poultry raised in the conditions of intensive food animal production has resulted in the occurrence of antibiotic resistant strains of many highly dangerous bacteria. UN agencies have highlighted the serious threat that AMR poses to all the peoples of the world. If nothing is done, millions of people will die of antibiotic resistance bacteria by 2050.
  • Halt different aggravating factors of malnutrition in this Region, such as conflict, social injustice, unequal access to the basic right to adequate and nutritious food.
  • The Decade of family farming and the decade of nutrition must be look as an opportunity for policy coherence and governments’ commitment, not for celebrations! This has to be the real opportunity to define policies and public investment to support our family farm across the region that are the only guarantee to ensure agroecology and the right to adequate and nutritious food.

 

* More information: http://www.food-cso-europe.org

* Background documents of the CSOs Consultation: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1hkGKn1segarwgYXEjUf7nW5IAdhBSU6m

* FAO background documents of the Regional Conference (16-18 May 2018):
http://www.fao.org/about/%20meetings/regionalconferences/%20erc31/documents/en/