“We call on our fellow peoples to join us in the collective task of collectively constructing Agroecology as part of our popular struggles to build a better world, a world based on mutual respect,
social justice, equity, solidarity and harmony with our Mother Earth”
Declaration of the International Forum for Agroecology
Nyéléni, Mali, 27 February 2015
The Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSM) fought to ensure agroecology could be tabled as one of the policy priorities of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) for more than six years. In 2017, at its 44th Plenary Session, the CFS decided to include a workstream on Agroecological and other innovative approaches in its workplan. The CSM warmly welcomed the start of a collective process to reflect on and contribute to this very important policy formulation process. In fact, for all CSM’s eleven constituencies, agroecology is at the core of their daily work, life, as well as the vision of framing a sustainable and human rights-centered food system.
The controversial nature of this policy workstream was clear since its beginnings. The very same title of the policy recommendation, which includes “other innovative approaches” besides agroecology, became highly controversial. A report was published by the High-Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) in July of 2019 as a basis for the policy convergence process.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the process was delayed and finalized only in May 2021 after a final round of 111 hours of virtual negotiations. An extraordinary one-day CFS Plenary Session took place in June to adopt the Policy Recommendations. During the session, CSM stated that it was not able to announce its formal position on the final document. The CSM Agroecology Working Group is currently engaged in an internal assessment exercise to decide whether to endorse the recommendations.
In its declaration, CSM expressed the profound disappoint and concern of its constituencies, who realized they had to struggle for language on human rights, women’s rights and the rights of peasants and people working in rural areas to be included in the policy recommendations. This, even though this language had already been agreed in previous CFS texts. The CFS was reformed with the mandate to achieve the progressive realization of the right to food. In contrast to this critical principle, the Agroecology working group witnessed the failure of CFS to assume the interconnection of the right to food with the rights of women and those who produce most of the food. The declaration also recalled how CFS is the space where these rights should be celebrated and where these rights should inform all its policy outcomes. The fact that this is not happening is of serious concern, both now and for the future of the CFS.
Moreover, agroecology constitutes a way out from dependence on external inputs. The fact that these recommendations encourage the optimization of the use and risk of pesticides undermines not only CSM’s goals and advocacy efforts, but also, and most importantly, the health, livelihoods and survival of peasant and family farmers, Indigenous Peoples, agricultural workers, and other small-scale food producers that have practiced agroecology for centuries. These policy recommendations also contradict existing UN agreements, policy frameworks and agreed guidelines regarding pesticides and chemicals management. Furthermore, it blocks the aspirations of a number of CFS member states to transition fully to agroecology, moving away from the harmful chemical dependencies that interfere with the human rights to health and healthy ecosystems.