Global response to food crisis should not line corporate pockets
The war in Ukraine has not caused the global food crisis but it has exacerbated structural failures of the neoliberal food system and a global food security strategy based on trade. Powerful governments and corporations are exploiting food price hikes to entrench unfair global trade rules that perpetuate hunger.
Ahead of World Food Day a new FIAN International briefing, Food Crisis Response Entrenches Corporate Influence, calls for a transformation of the global economic system and its trade, finance, and investment regimes. It highlights the lack of global action to address the roots of systemic and recurring global food crises, largely due to powerful vested interests which have dominated the global response to date.
The UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) is the UN's multilateral body mandated to coordinate and give policy responses and meets in Rome today a week before the 16 October celebration of UN World Food Day.
But powerful governments have been using the political spaces they control to implement global initiatives that do not address structural drivers of hunger and climate collapse. And corporations explloit this momentum to raise their profile and profits.
“One of the strategies is the push for corporate-led charity, often backed by corporate deregulation, tax and other financial incentives from public authorities that are neglecting their obligations to fulfil the human right to food,” says FIAN Secretary General Sofia Monsalve.
This FIAN briefing is based on interviews with members of the Global Network for the Right to Food and Nutrition and FIAN national sections in ten countries – Ukraine, Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone, Nepal, Uganda, Zambia, Haiti, Colombia, Brazil, and Ecuador – between July and August 2022. It shows that government responses have been both insufficient in addressing the short-term food emergency and inadequate in meeting people’s demands for support to localized agroecological peasant food systems and food sovereignty.
“The government should realize that we cannot totally depend on [international] markets for basic needs like food. There is a need to support a production economy independent from international markets. The government should change its policies towards catering to the basic requirements of small-scale food producers, like farmers, milk producers, and fishers," says Herman Kumara at National Fisheries Solidarity in Sri Lanka.
Countries cannot solve the problem alone because structural inequalities in the global economic system prevent governments from taking appropriate action. Trade rules must be transformed to serve people and the planet, not corporations. Financial speculation around food must be banned and markets regulated; and foreign debt must be urgently reduced.
"The response of the Ecuadorian government is inadequate. The state has not created policies to support diverse peasant food production systems. Instead, the state designs policies that respond to the most powerful in the food system,” says Alexander Naranjo, director of FIAN Ecuador.
A globally coordinated, democratic and human rights-based multilateral response is needed to address the root causes of hunger – a response that takes into account historically inbuilt inequalities and power imbalances among countries and people in order to change the rules of the game by letting the most affected countries and people shape this transformation.
The UN CFS is the UN multilateral body which should be doing this. It needs to take urgent action at its plenary session in Rome this week.
For more information please contact Sofia Monsalve at firstname.lastname@example.org