Date: June 18, 2021
Dr. Agnes Kalibata
Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit
We would like to express our gratitude for your letter dated May 26, 2021. The AFSA members appreciate you, for finding time to explain how you are responding to the Civil Society’s concerns, including ours.
We appreciate your recognition of the civil society’s role and your pledge that we remain an independent voice in the future.
We particularly appreciate your effort to incorporate the thirteen agroecological principles as critical to the pathway for food system transformation.
Additionally, we appreciate your recognition of the CFS as a legitimate forum for food system-related negotiations. We note your progress on the right to food, rights-based approaches, true cost accounting for food, the role of trade, public subsidies, and efforts to address unsustainable food production.
Nevertheless, after careful consideration of your response, we still believe our concerns are largely unaddressed.
The establishment of a distinct track to be coordinated by the CSM on freeing the food system from corporate capture, the true integration of agroecology as a crosscutting and central agenda item for food system transformation, the skewed balance of backgrounds of the UNFSS’s panel of experts dominated by natural sciences, and the effective integration of indigenous peoples’ knowledge and practice are issues that were inadequately considered in your response.
Indeed, the trajectory of the Summit’s negotiations, still strongly suggests that these, and other critical issues, will not be addressed in the UNFSS process, as it is currently designed.
Additionally, you state that individual businesses are represented only by their business Networks; however, we believe that such Networks have indeed a much greater ability to influence the process in their own interests than individual businesses might. In this sense, we remain highly concerned about the forces that appear to have an undue influence in shaping the outcomes of the Summit.
As a result, we are inclined to believe that the UNFSS does not provide us as an African network of civil society and social movements fighting for food sovereignty and peasant rights (as prescribed in the United Nations Declaration of Peasant Rights – UNDROP) with a safe and sufficient basis for useful engagement.
Notwithstanding, we are still wholeheartedly committed to the Agenda of a Positive Transformation of Global and African Food Systems, but we also inform you that AFSA (as per the will of its members) will not be taking part in the Summit’s process.
Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa