Saturday, 9 November 2013

Pledge for food sovereignty and climate justice

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Guus Geurts <>
Date: 2013/11/7
Subject: Re: pledge for food sovereignty and climate justice and more information
To: Giba Wataramy <>

Pledge for food sovereignty and climate justice
by Guus Geurts

Eichwaldmond (Austria): stop global warming

- Proposals, background of fast and hunger strike, to cope with the ‘forgotten’ food-, energy and climate crises

I met Giba Wataramy of CIMI Mato Grosso in October 2012 in the Netherlands during a conference about the negative effects of the huge dependency of Dutch animal husbandry of the soy imports produced in Latin America. We agreed that I would write an article about the pledge for food sovereignty and climate change, which were developed by the Working group Food Justice in 2011.
In this document you will find the proposals for a more just trade, agricultural, climate and energy policy, which are supported by 39 development, environmental, farmers, human rights, indigenous people and women’s’ organisations and enterprises, and by 270 civilians inside and outside the Netherlands. These proposals were directed to the Dutch politics and have been send at 10 October 2011 with an accompanying letter to members of Parliament and ministers. Also the CEO’s of Solidaridad, World Wildlife Fund and the Initiative for Sustainable Trade (IDH) received these proposals, because they support the green washing of industrial produced ‘responsible’ (GMO)soy within the RTRS and ‘sustainable’ palm oil within the RSPO. To enforce these proposals more than 30 people fasted for 24 hours, and I started a fast for 40 days at 1 November 2011. After 40 days I went on not eating and called it ‘hunger strike’ to put more pressure on the proposals. At 14 December I had to stop on doctor’s advice.

1.      ‘Proposals for food sovereignty and climate justice
In this document we give proposals for a more just trade, agricultural, climate and energy policy. We do this at this moment because the coming months crucial decisions will be made for the supply of basic needs and the future of our planet. So the Climate Summit COP17 will be organised in Durban South Africa (28 November – 9 December) and the WTO-summit will be from 15 until 17 December in Geneva. Also the G20 summit will be organised at 3 and 4 November and these months negotiations will start about a new European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for 2014-2020. Besides that protection of the right to food and right to a livelihood, and the prevention of disastrous climate change have everything to do with the political choice for competition on the world market in WTO and other free trade agreements.

1.1 We have now the chance to say no to:
-        Liberalisation of agricultural markets; a political choice which has been made (only) twenty (EU, WTO) to twenty five (World Bank, IMF) years ago. Before that time politicians realised that agriculture and free trade don’t go together, because farmers can only produce sustainably when they get remunerative prices.
-        Those free trade agreements because they also lead to access to and on-going depletion of natural resources, especially in developing countries. These resources such as land, water, minerals and energy are used to produce even more luxury products for the happy few who have purchasing power, instead of supplying basic needs for everybody now and in future.
-        The EU trade strategy Trade, Growth and World Affairs [1]. This strategy – unknown to the general public – seems to have been written to maximize the profits of European multinationals, but is leading to a social and environmental crisis in and outside Europe. This strategy considers access to markets and natural resources in other countries as ‘constitutional rights’. This political choice for competition on the world market blocks effective policies in areas such as agriculture, energy, climate change and biodiversity, because every environmental and social regulation then weakens competitiveness.
-        Misleading ‘solutions’ such as self-regulation by the corporate sector (for example by ‘round tables’ on soybeans and palm oil) instead of market regulation, binding social and environmental regulations, and protection, fulfilment and respect of human rights.
-        Unjust and ineffective climate ‘solutions’ such as the Clean Development Mechanism, Carbon Emissions Trade, biofuels and tree plantations, that allow developed countries to avoid taking their responsibility to reduce their energy consumption drastically. Moreover the proposals made in Cancun in 2010 will (possibly) lead to an increase in temperature of 4 – 5 ºC [2], even though an increase of 2 ºC can already lead to an irreversible and disastrous situation.

Former attempts such as demonstrations, petitions, advocacy letters to politicians, non-violent actions, or opinion articles in newspapers and magazines and other publications, have hardly led to a change of policy. Arguments for a political change towards an ecologically sound and socially just future for all don't seem to count. The influence of big multinational corporations on governments is too big, the courage of politicians to deviate from ‘Business as Usual’ is too small and the belief in the neoliberal ‘world religion’ is on-going despite the current crises.
Hence this ultimate demand in the decisive months for the climate, regulation of world trade and the European common agricultural policy, to change for the better now when it’s still possible.

1.2 We demand from the Dutch government to change its policy – towards the EU – in the following way:
* Food sovereignty within agricultural and trade policy:
-        The WTO-summit in December is a good opportunity to break down the current negotiations in the Doha Development Round. The Agreement on Agriculture about free trade in agriculture also needs to be reformed drastically in such a way that food sovereignty and the respect for human rights will be the central focus. [3]
-        Europe stops imposing liberalisation in agriculture on the poorest developing countries in bilateral and regional trade agreements, such as the Economic Partnership Agreements with former colonies of the EU, the so called ACP-countries.
-        Developing countries should be able to increase their import taxes to protect the food production by their own farmers as soon as possible. The World Bank and the IMF should delete the orders to liberalise trade from their country strategies and adjustment programmes. 
-        Free trade agreements and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for 2014-2020 should be reformed in such a way that the EU becomes as self-sufficient as possible in food, feed and energy. In order to achieve this the following measures should be taken:
o   Import taxes and supply management are established or maintained for all agricultural products so that all farmers can get remunerative prices.
o   All income subsidies and export subsidies are abolished so that dumping in developing countries is prevented.
o   European farmers produce alternatives for products which are now imported from the Global South and are leading to a social and ecological disaster, e.g. soybeans, palm oil and biofuels.
o   Environmental and animal welfare standards should be raised considerably. In combination with European ecotaxes – and the import taxes already mentioned – this will lead to internalising all environmental and animal welfare costs in the price the consumer pays.
o   The 25 billion Euros [4] which are saved by changing the CAP in this way can be used to stimulate ecological, small scale, local agricultural production and processing, and decentralised sustainable energy production in Europe and in developing countries.
-        European companies and investment funds must be prohibited from buying land in developing countries in order to stop the European share in the current landgrab.
-        A renewed European trade strategy should lead to fair trade with developing countries, a more self-sufficient Europe in which the mineral cycles are closed, with much lower energy use and more employment. In this way developing countries will get their markets and natural resources back for their own development, in the speed they choose themselves.

* Climate justice and energy security:
-        A renewed The EU should take its responsibility and cut the use of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions by 50% before 2017. Those figures are analogous to The People’s Agreement drawn up in Bolivia in 2010 [5]. In order to achieve this the following measures should be taken:
o   the Clean Development Mechanism and Carbon Trade are abolished;
o   European ecotaxes on fossil fuels are increased drastically (and taxes on labour are decreased);
o   subsidies on fossil fuels are abolished (7,5 billion Euro per year in the Netherlands);
o   no more public money goes to construction of new highways, airports and harbours;
o   drastic expansion of public investment in public transport;
o   also greenhouse gas emissions by ships and by airplanes are decreased drastically;
o   a German style feed-in-tariff system is established European wide, in order to stimulate decentralised sustainable electricity production for remunerative prices;
o   the construction of new Dutch and European coal power plants is cancelled, working coal plants are closed as soon as possible (but 2020 at the latest);
o   a European-wide prohibition of imports of oil(products) from tar sands;
o   50 to 75% of all global GHG-emissions can be prevented or stored by bringing back organic matter into the soil, re-integrating animal and crop production, putting local markets and fresh food back in the centre of the food system and by halting land clearing and deforestation. [6]
o   cancellation of the European bio fuel directive (10% bio fuels in 2020) and a European prohibition of imports of bio fuels from developing countries;

* Stop the Dutch and European violations of human rights and Green washing:
-        A parliamentary research (Parlementaire Enquête) will be conducted to investigate the past, current and future human rights abuses, especially in developing countries, that result from free trade policies imposed by WTO, bilateral- and regional Free Trade Agreements and structural adjustment programmes imposed by the World Bank and IMF. Especially violations of the right to food, water and a livelihood should be investigated. The Netherlands and the EU reform these treaties to prevent these human right violations as quickly as possible.
-        The same investigations are conducted concerning the climate treaty.
-        Trans National Corporations that violate human rights during the exploration of raw materials and the production, processing, import or trade of products in countries outside Europe, are prosecuted in the country of origin and/or in the country where the crime took place;
-        Specific demands to Dutch NGO’s: The World Wildlife Fund and Solidaridad retire from the Round Table of Responsible Soy and the Roundtable on Responsible Palm Oil.
-        The Dutch government stops putting public money into these green wash platforms. Also the 100 million Euros in subsidies to the Initiative for Fair Trade (IDH) will be cut drastically. Their programmes on soy, palm oil, sugar, tropical timber and aquaculture are abolished. Sustainable imports and production of these products on a massive scale is impossible, and the IDH gives importing companies undeservedly a green image paid for with public money.
-        To prevent the misuse of the term ‘sustainable’ by companies a society-wide discussion is organised in order to determine which criteria should be met. These criteria are binding for all purchases by national, provincial en local governments.
Some suggestions: no (indirect) violations of human rights, closed cycles of nutrients and fresh water, no destruction of nature and no eviction of farmers, pastoralists and indigenous people from their land - including by indirect land use changes, as little use of fossil fuels as possible, no genetically modified organisms, respect the species-specific behaviour of animals on farms and the smallest possible ecological footprint.

2. Current situation
During the fast and hunger strike in 2011 the Dutch Socialist Party and the Party of the Animals made six proposals in the Dutch Parliament to change policy accordingly to our proposals. Sadly none of them got a majority. But this year a proposal to stop importing oil from tar sands got a majority in Dutch Parliament. Of course a European ban of this oil is needed, and this will take some more time.
Moreover the Common Agricultural Policy for 2014 to 2020 was developed, which meant an on-going neoliberal agenda. The WTO agenda is still about removing trade barriers instead of more market regulation. And the EU keeps on pushing for more FTA’s with developing countries like India, with ACP-countries and with the US and Canada. Although that the Climate Crisis is worsening we are still far from an effective international Climate Deal. There are however some encouraging developments:
-          A European platform of civil society organisations was developed which developed an alternative for the current trade strategy Trade, Growth and World Affairs. This platform and alternative is called the Alternative Trade Mandate. More information:  A campaign will start from November onwards and is directed towards the European Parliamentarian elections in May 2014.
-          Olivier de Schutter, the UN rapporteur on the Right to Food made some very good statements during the last years, which are in line with our proposals. According to de Schutter, “in no circumstances should trade commitments be allowed to restrict a country’s ability to adopt measures guaranteeing national food security and the right to adequate food: a waiver to allow the adoption of such measures should be envisaged.” [7]
-          In October this year the FAO recognized the international farmers’ movement La Via Campesina's crucial role as the major international small food producer's organisation. According to Elizabeth Mpofu from the General Coordination of La Via Campesina, “this is an important step forward in our efforts to address UN institutions and governments to have a policy shift towards food sovereignty.”  [8]
-          At this moment the proposals for food sovereignty and climate justice are supported by 39 civil society organisations and enterprises and 270 individuals. See for their names and more information: More support is welcome!
In this document you will find also the proposals and the letter as mentioned before, with background and inspiration of the fast / hunger strike. Finally this document gives more information about how you could support these actions.

Guus Geurts
Working group Food Justice,
Amsterdam, the Netherlands,                                         

7 November 2013

[1] Trade, Growth and World Affairs – Trade policy as a core component of the EU’s 2020 strategy, European Commission DG Trade, November 2010, see:
[2] The Cancún Agreement: Not Worth Cheering, Friends of the Earth Europe, 20 December 2010, page 2, see:
[3] Rebuilding the WTO Agreement on Agriculture on food sovereignty, Jacques Berthelot, Solidarité, 30 May 2011, see:
[4] Assessment of the budgetary effects of the ‘New Policy’, JM Boussard and others, Dec. 2010, p. 8, see:    
[5] The People’s Agreement was drawn up during the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia in 2010. See:

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