UNITED NATIONS – On the sidelines of the U.N.’s heavily hyped Climate Summit, the newly-launched Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture announced plans to protect some 500 million farmers worldwide from climate change and “help achieve sustainable and equitable increases in agricultural productivity and incomes.”
But the announcement by the Global Alliance, which includes more than 20 governments, 30 organisations and corporations, including Fortune 500 companies McDonald’s and Kelloggs, was greeted with apprehension by a coalition of over 100 civil society organisations (CSOs).
“These companies will do all they can to maintain their market dominance and prevent genuine agroecology agriculture from gaining ground in countries.” — Meenakshi Raman of Third World NetworkIt is a backhanded gesture, warned the coalition, which “rejected” the announcement as “a deceptive and deeply contradictory initiative.”
“The Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture will not deliver the solutions that we so urgently need. Instead, climate-smart agriculture provides a dangerous platform for corporations to implement the very activities we oppose,” the coalition said.
“By endorsing the activities of the planet’s worst climate offenders in agribusiness and industrial agriculture, the Alliance will undermine the very objectives that it claims to aim for.”
The 107 CSOs include ActionAid International, Friends of the Earth International, the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements, the South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication, the Third World Network, the Bolivian Platform on Climate Change, Biofuel Watch and the National Network on Right to Food.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who gave his blessing to the Global Alliance, said: “I am glad to see action that will increase agricultural productivity, build resilience for farmers and reduce carbon emissions.”
These efforts, he said, will improve food and nutrition security for billions of people.
With demand for food set to increase 60 per cent by 2050, agricultural practices are transforming to meet the challenge of food security for the world’s 9.0 billion people while reducing emissions, he asserted.
But the coalition said: “Although some organisations have constructively engaged in good faith for several months with the Global Alliance to express serious concerns, these concerns have been ignored.”
Instead, the Alliance “is clearly being structured to serve big business interests, not to address the climate crisis,” the coalition said.
The coalition also pointed out that companies with activities resulting in dire social impacts on farmers and communities, such as those driving land grabbing or promoting genetically modified (GM) seeds, already claim they are climate-smart.
Yara (the world’s largest fertiliser manufacturer), Syngenta (GM seeds), McDonald’s, and Walmart are all at the climate-smart table,
it added. “Climate-smart agriculture will serve as a new promotional space for the planet’s worst social and environmental offenders in agriculture.
“The proposed Global Alliance on Climate-Smart Agriculture seems to be yet another strategy by powerful players to prop up industrial agriculture, which undermines the basic human right to food. It is nothing new, nothing innovative, and not what we need,” the coalition declared.
Meenakshi Raman, coordinator of the Climate Change Programme at the Malaysia-based Third World Network, told IPS the world seed, agrochemical and biotechnology markets are dominated by a few mega companies.
She said these companies have a vested interest in maintaining monoculture farming systems which are carbon intensive and depend on external inputs.
“These companies will do all they can to maintain their market dominance and prevent genuine agroecology agriculture from gaining ground in countries,” she said.
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