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After G20 fail, people mobilize in Basque Country

After disheartening for-profit, market-based solutions by G20, hundreds of delegates of La Via Campesina (LVC), representing 200 million people, kick off discussions on pressing issues affecting the world’s population.

The gathering of world leaders last week in Germany for the G20 resulted in what many had expected: a series of market-based solutions which see large companies come out on top. Together accounting for 85% of the global GDP, G20 countries opted for economic growth-centered priorities which, so far, have mostly translated into environmental destruction, land grabbing, and the human rights violations, abuses and exploitation of a large chuck of the world population.

Topics of controversy

Communities and civil society felt a collective sense of unease upon the outcomes of key agenda items for this year’s summit. In particular, points of action vis-à-vis agriculture were pointing to higher production, which is often based on large-scale cultivation in monoculture. As FIAN Germany’s representative Gertrud Falk stresses “G20-based corporations, with the support of governments, are pulling out the long-term control of agricultural land in the global south”. This is leading to higher number of land grabs, as well as even less access to land and other natural resources by rural populations. Not only does this risk the right to food of these communities, but it also accelerates the destruction of biodiversity.
By the same token, 17 of the 20 countries represented in Hamburg have ratified the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), which unilaterally strengthens the rights of breeders. Peasants and indigenous communities who have cultivated seeds for centuries and thus adapted to local conditions are not “covered” by the agreement. Through the implementation of UPOV, peasants are losing their rights to grow, develop, select and diversify their own seeds, increasingly controlled by corporations. Besides, countries of the global south are being pressed to join the agreement by industrialized countries through free trade agreements and development policy initiatives. This is the case, for example, in Tanzania, where peasants have to face high penalties if they cultivate their own seeds.

People take the lead to real solutions

Alternative solutions that go beyond the margins of corporate ambitions, and rather focus on the realization of people’s human rights, will be discussed in the Basque Country, Spain. Starting today and for a week, representatives from peasant organizations, small and medium size producers, landless people, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from all over the world will gather in the Seventh Conference of LVC, collectively representing over 200 million people.

Crucial discussions will range from food sovereignty, corporate capture, seeds and the criminalization of human rights defenders to the Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. Widely addressed during the G20, climate change and the related issue of energy will also be priorities. Currently, the dominant policies and initiatives on the matter seek to generate profit under a market-oriented approach rather than solve the problem with a sustainable solution with people taking the lead.

In the view of LVC, who puts enormous effort and resources into the training, education and the exchange of knowledge between peasant organizations and affected communities across the world, it is critical to work in partnership with other movements. There is a dire need to develop proposals for an energy system that is controlled by and for people, whilst meeting the needs of communities and our planet. According to LVC, the struggles of the indigenous peoples of North America and across the world that are led by indigenous women, to ‘keep the oil in the soil’ are among the most important present-day examples of how to quickly reduce emissions and promote popular sovereignty in the face of the climate crisis´.

Follow all discussions on Twitter via #7ConfLVC

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