Written by Administrator Wednesday, 23 May 2012 16:23
During the run up to Rio +20, PCFS Co-Chair Azra Talat Sayeed warns that it has become clear that the Rio +20 process is in danger of being hijacked by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The 1992 Rio Conference agreements emphasised the spirit of sustainable development which meant not only protecting the environment and fragile ecosystems but also aspiring to achieve the full potential of human development, ensuring poverty eradication as well as protecting human rights. But these principles will be derailed in Rio +20 if the process is made accountable to the WTO negotiations which is what the WTO is advocating for.
WTO led agreements, including the Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) and the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), have resulted in the exploitation of natural resources and labour in Southern countries and have undermined national food security (also recognised by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Professor Olivier de Schutter). The WTO international agreements have caused the marginalisation and dispossession of small-scale farmers around the world and if Rio +20 process are accountable to these agreements they will lose all meaning for sustainable development processes.
Mrs Sayeed warns that the Rio +20 process could become a medium for another global food crisis by reinstituting WTO policies and frameworks which exacerbate climate change through corporate agriculture. The majority of GHG emissions from agriculture and land use change and forestry are produced through corporate agriculture. And this does not include GHG emissions from manufacture of fertilisers and pesticides.
Mrs Sayeed calls for a food sovereignty framework to be adopted in the RIO +20 process which would inform the nature of Rio +20 agreements and balance the key priorities of the process. Food Sovereignty emphasises local ownership and control over food production (as opposed to international market driven policies which undermine local farmers). Food sovereignty also recognises the importance of achieving these aims through sustainable farming techniques – recognising that the interests of small-scale farmers and rural poor can only be realised through their taking control of their own food production and using sustainable farming methods.
A food sovereignty informed agreement directly conflicts with WTO agreements which impose restrictions on states stunting their agriculture sector. According to de Schutter, “in no circumstances should trade commitments be allowed to restrict a country’s ability to adopt measures guaranteeing national food security and the right to adequate food: a waiver to allow the adoption of such measures should be envisaged.”