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UNFSS: Not Our Summit

People worldwide gear up to challenge, oppose corporate-controlled UN food summit

People across the globe will intensify their protest against the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) and expose its double-facedness of aiming to end hunger and malnutrition and heal the planet and at the same time being dominated by corporations precisely causing the problems.

As the stage for the much-criticized September 2021 UNFSS is set through a pre-summit that will be held in Rome from July 26 to 28, thousands of protesters will also physically and virtually gather in the Italian capital and around the world a day before the pre-summit and until the said event’s conclusion.

The protesters will be composed of peasants and small-scale producers, women, youth,  indigenous peoples, pastoralists, fisherfolks, food and agricultural workers, consumers, urban food insecure people, as well as academics, scientists, and members of the civil society overall.

They are from over 300 organizations representing more than 380 million affiliated members from all regions are part of the Autonomous People's Response to the UN Food Systems Summit.

The organizations called for a drastic re-orientation of the UNFSS in March 2020 after UN Secretary General António Guterres made former Rwandan agriculture minister Agnes Kalibata, president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, an international nonprofit founded by the Melinda and Bill Gates and Rockefeller foundations in 2006, and the World Economic Forum (WEF), representing about 1,000 multinational and transnational companies and industry leaders, as among the summit’s key partners and actors.

The UNFSS has been criticized from different fronts, for instance by academics and scientists, and three current and former UN special rapporteurs on the right to food.

While organizers of the UNFSS reiterate that the conference is inclusive and pro-people, calling it “a summit for everyone and everywhere,” Sofia Monsalve, secretary-general of FIAN International, a  part of the Autonomous People's Response to the Summit, said it is actually the opposite because the UNFSS excludes the voices of people worst affected by hunger and environmental collapse largely caused by destructive globalized industrial food systems.

“Why is it then that proposals phasing out pesticides, redistributing land ownership, or holding companies accountable for their environmental and labor abuses are not on the table? It doesn’t make sense to call a dialogue open and inclusive if certain perspectives are excluded if the agenda was set from the beginning by actors representing corporate interests,” she said.

“Evidently, the UNFSS has sidelined democratic and human rights-based organizations and made representatives of corporations as among the key solvers of food-related problems that the firms themselves have ironically created and perpetuated,” added Monsalve.

Four reasons why the UNFSS is ‘problematic’

In its policy brief titled, The UN Food Systems Summit: Obstructing the Transformation of Corporate Food Systems, which was published on Thursday, July 15, FIAN International identified four reasons why the UNFSS is “problematic.”

First, the summit, being at the mercy of corporate interests, is highly likely to support and promote industrial food systems that “sideline” the people’s right to food and nutrition and “exacerbate” their “dependence” on exploitative transnational corporations and global value chains.

Second, because the UNFSS has a “strong bias” for corporations, whose primary objective is to sell and profit from food and not to feed people, the summit will continue to treat “food like a commodity and not as a commons or a human right.”

Third, the summit “creates an illusion of inclusiveness.” But in truth, it lacks transparency and fails to prioritize people most affected by hunger, malnutrition, and ecological destruction.

Fourth, because it imposes multistakeholder governance, putting corporations on equal footing with governments and other entities, the summit has “legitimized the corporate sector as part of the solution when it is actually responsible for many problems” and “marginalized least developed countries in international decision-making”.

The same policy brief urged governments to “stop multistakeholderism, democratize UN agencies and implement robust safeguards against conflicts of interest,” to “promote local, resilient, and agroecological food systems” and to “protect public over private interest”.

The paper stresses that sustainable, just, and healthy food systems can only be achieved if governments will put “the right to adequate food and nutrition and food sovereignty at the core of transformation.”

“(This means asserting) the rights of peoples, nations, and states to democratically define their own food, agriculture, livestock, and fisheries systems, and to develop policies guiding how food is produced, distributed, and consumed.”


You can take action against the UNFSS and be part of the People`s Counter-Mobilizations. The program and further information will be uploaded here in the coming days:    

READ: The UN Food Systems Summit: Obstructing the Transformation of Corporate Food Systems