Posts Tagged 'World Social Forum'

Dakar Appeal against the land grab.

Sign the Dakar Appeal against the land grab!

Sign the appeal here!


We, farmers organizations, non-governmental organizations, religious organizations, unions and other social movements, gathered in Dakar for the World Social Forum 2011:

Considering that small and family farming, which represent most of the world’s farmers, are best placed to:

  • meet their dietary needs and those of populations, ensuring food security and sovereignty of countries,

  • provide employment to rural populations and maintain economic life in rural areas, key to a balanced territorial development,

  • produce with respect to the environment and to the conservation of natural resources for future generations;

Considering that recent massive land grabs targeting tens of millions of acres for the benefit of private interests or third states – whether for reasons of food, energy, mining, environment, tourism, speculation or geopolitics – violate human rights by depriving local, indigenous, peasants, pastoralists and fisher communities of their livelihoods, by restricting their access to natural resources or by removing their freedom to produce as they wish, and exacerbate the inequalities of women in access and control of land;
Considering that investors and complicit governments threaten the right to food of rural populations, that they condemned them to suffer rampant unemployment and rural exodus, that they exacerbate poverty and conflicts and contribute to the loss of agricultural knowledge and skills and cultural identities ;
Considering also that the land and the respect of human rights are firstly under the jurisdiction of national parliaments and governments, and they bear the greatest share of responsibility for these land grabs;

We call on parliaments and national governments
to immediately cease all massive land grabs current or future and return the plundered land. We order the government to stop oppressing and criminalizing the movements of struggle for land and to release activists detained. We demand that national governments implement an effective framework for the recognition and regulation of land rights for users through consultation with all stakeholders. This requires putting an end to corruption and cronyism, which invalidates any attempt of shared land management.


We demand that governments, the Regional Unions of States, FAO and other national and international institutions
immediately implement the commitments that were made at the International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ICARRD) of 2006, namely securing land rights of users, the revival of agrarian reform process based on a fair access to natural resources and rural development for the welfare of all. We ask that the elaboration process of the FAO Guidelines on Governance of Land and Natural Resources be strengthened, and that they are based on Human Rights as defined in the various charters and covenants – these rights being effective only if binding legal instruments are implemented at the national and international level to impose on the states compliance with their obligations. Moreover, each state has to be held responsible for the impact of its policies or activities of its companies in the countries targeted by the investments. Similarly, we must reaffirm the supremacy of Human Rights over international trade and finance regimes, which are sources of speculation on natural resources and agricultural goods.

Meanwhile, we urge the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) to definitively reject the World Bank principles for responsible agricultural investment (RAI), which are illegitimate and inadequate to address the phenomenon, and to include the commitments of the ICARRD as well as the conclusions of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) in its Global Framework for Action.

We demand that states, regional organizations and international institutions
guarantee people’s right to land and support family farming and agro-ecology. Appropriate agricultural policies should consider all different types of producers (indigenous peoples, pastoralists, artisanal fishermen, peasants, agrarian reform beneficiaries) and answer specifically to the needs of women and youth.


Finally,
we invite people and civil society organisations everywhere to support – by all human, media, legal, financial or popular means possible – all those who fight against land grabs and to put pressure on national governments and international institutions to fulfil their obligations towards the rights of people.



We all have a duty to resist and to support the people who are fighting for their dignity!

La Via Campesina
Via Campesina is an international movement of peasants, small- and medium-sized producers, landless, rural women, indigenous people, rural youth and agricultural workers. We are an autonomous, pluralist and multicultural movement, independent of any political, economic, or other type of affiliation. Born in 1993, La Via Campesina now gathers about 150 organisations in 70 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas.

International Operational Secretariat:
Jln. Mampang Prapatan XIV no 5 Jakarta Selatan, Jakarta 12790 Indonesia
Tel/fax: +62-21-7991890/+62-21-7993426
Email: viacampesina@viacampesina.org

Stop the global land grab.

“NGOs don’t mobilise people, desperation mobilises people,” said a Cambodian land activist as he related the experience of Boeung Kak villagers who were driven off their land by their own government to make way for corporate profiteering.

Such stories were abundant from all corners of the world this week at the World Social Forum in Dakar, Senegal. The forum, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, attracted representatives from civil society organisations, social movements and unions from more than 123 countries. Present among them were land rights activists and small farmers, who came to relate and decry the unfettered grabbing of their land.

Land grabbing emerged as the hot topic in this year’s forum. The phenomenon is defined as taking possession of and/or controlling a scale of land for commercial or industrial agricultural production, which is disproportionate in size in comparison to the average land holding in the region. Stories from Madagascar, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, India, Brazil and Mozambique illustrate that the phenomenon is widespread and the consequences can be dire. Land investments from overseas to secure food supplies and biofuels, speculation and resource extraction are the major drivers of this phenomenon.

Speaking through a megaphone under a plastic tent, peasant leaders from Mali exposed the acquisition of plots in their village by the Libyan government, which built a 40-metre long canal through their community. The canal runs through their traditional pastoral grazing land, cultivated plots and even their cemetery. “Not even our dead could rest in peace,” said the representative from Afrique Verte, a local NGO monitoring the issue.

In a world where the commoditisation of resources has become the norm, it is not surprising that communities are losing their most precious assets to the highest bidder. The spectre of a hungry world is being used to push the agenda for industrial agriculture, but in reality, the majority of the land is used for producing animal feed and agrofuels, as well as land speculation, rather than food crops. A World Bank report on land acquisitions shows that only 37% of this land is used to grow food.

Land has become one of the hottest commodities in the world market, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where 70% of the global grabbing took place from 2006 to 2009, according to the World Bank. Buyers prefer land that is easy to acquire and fairly fertile, with access to water resources. As most governments desire foreign direct investment in the elusive pursuit of a narrowly defined “economic growth”, the optimal transaction almost always comes at the expense of small farmers. .

Small family farms are considered economically “inefficient” because their yields feed their communities and not the global market. But family farms actually have higher productivity per hectare than their larger counterparts. Nevertheless, investment in them has been reduced in the last 20 years in favour of industrial farming.

In my home country of Brazil, we have seen the disastrous effects of this large-scale agricultural development model, where half of agricultural production is going to soy and sugar cane, to feed animals and cars, not people. Brazil went from 8% to 35% of global trade in soy in the decade to 2005, but this comes at the cost of deforestation of the Amazon, displacement of traditional communities and a massive rural exodus to urban slums. Yet it is the small farmer that feeds Brazil, with 60% of the food consumed nationally coming from family farms, according to the 2006 Agricultural Census.

Inherent in this predicament is the commodification of land, which stems from the neoliberal development model that drives policymakers. The very architecture of this global governance and economic system must be challenged and reformed. The time has come to reinvest in the kind of agriculture that actually feeds people. The notion that small farmers are unproductive renders them invisible; their contributions to their communities and local development go unrecognised and with that they go on tightening their belts, one notch at a time.

Land rights activists here at the World Social Forum call for global agriculture to work for people, upholding the right to food, supporting land reform that recognises customary rights and invests in small-scale production. We demand that our governments assume their responsibility to us, their constituents. Our needs should drive their actions, not a quixotic quest for corporate investment returns that have little chance of feeding the world’s poor.

• This article was amended on 14 February 2011. In the sixth paragraph, “Africa” was corrected to “sub-Saharan Africa” and “International Food Policy Research Institute” was changed to “World Bank”, which was the source of the statistic. “The 90% increase in soy production in the last decade in Brazil comes at the cost of deforestation” in the eighth paragraph was changed to “Brazil went from 8% to 35% of global trade in soy in the decade to 2005, but this comes at the cost of deforestation”.

Gisele Henriques
Gisele Henriques is a Brazilian activist and the policy and advocacy officer on food and agriculture issues for the international alliance of Catholic development agencies CIDSE. She has worked for more than a decade in support of the rights of farmers in Timor-Leste, Cambodia, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Mexico and Brazil

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/12/global-land-grab-farmers


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