Despite doubts, IFOAM decides to engage with the UN Food Summit

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This autumn, the UN Food Systems Summit will bring together key players from the worlds of science, business, policy, healthcare and academia, as well as farmers, indigenous people, youth organizations, consumer groups, environmental activists, and other key stakeholders. Before, during and after the Summit, these actors will exchange on how to bring about tangible, positive changes to the world’s food systems.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations has convened this Summit as part of the UN Decade of Action to be held in 2021. The UN Food System Summit aims to launch bold new actions to transform the way the world produces and consumes food, as part of the Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
It is important to know that the initiative has been receiving criticism from various movements and organizations. The appointment itself has been challenged by hundreds of organizations via a letter sent to the UN Secretary, objecting to the event’s leadership under an organization promoting industrial commercial agriculture. La Via Campesina published their position on UN Food Systems Summit titled ’A Summit Under Siege’ last December. They remain outside the process claiming it to be non-inclusive and led by global financial elites. The Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism for relations with the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) have also sent a letter to the CFS Chair with similar messages.
Other networks take different stances on the process and try to navigate cautiously around such a difficult issue, sometimes following an inside as well as an outside strategy through their different stakeholders.
IFOAM – Organics International finds the process “tedious and overwhelming, particularly for smaller organizations with limited resources, thereby creating inequalities”. Also, there was no clarity at the beginning on how the inputs from the different elements of the process come together. The process still gives IFOAM the impression that the planning follows a step-by-step approach, which makes it difficult for many movements and organizations to prioritise.
Despite these doubts, IFOAM – Organics International decided to engage formally with the UN Food Systems Summit, with a view to mainstreaming agroecology and organic agriculture across the different elements of the process.
As a result of this work,  IFOAM managed to bring to life a Solution Cluster on agroecology and regenerative agriculture. In another effort to make a shift in the food policy arena towards sustainability and inclusivity,  IFOAM is working with partners to make sure that policies supporting agroecology and organic will be seen as progressive and pioneering under the Governance Action Area.

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