A year after the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), the global food crisis rages on, driving billions of people into hunger and food insecurity. Amid the ongoing pandemic, price hikes, and climate emergency, the urgency and necessity to radically transform our food systems have never been so stark.
While they created these multiple crises, the global corporate food empire is exploiting these crises to further advance their imperialist schemes.
The US, the world’s largest imperialist power, continues to assert its prominent role in shaping the global food agenda. It gathered heads of state and tabled its Roadmap for Global Food Security at a Global Food Security Summit last September 20 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
It unveiled the said roadmap last May, during its Presidency of the UN Security Council. On top of additional pledges to the USD 10 billion made last year, it urged UN member states to mobilize finance and resources for humanitarian efforts, fertilizer production, and investments for the sustainable transformation of food systems. Around the same time, the US government endorsed the multi-billion dollar action plan that international financial institutions have devised to address global food insecurity.
With its dominant position in the world increasingly challenged, especially with the rise of China, the US is actively working to maintain its commanding role, including in “shaping the future of the UN.” For the global food systems, this means preserving the current power relations in determining agri-food policies with US imperialism at the helm, continuing the neoliberal onslaught, and perpetuating neocolonial ties with poor countries — the very core of the multiple crises we face.
Representing the agenda of the US and other imperialist powers, the United Nations assumes leadership in the global governance of food toward attaining the so-called 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Its 25-year action plan dubbed “Our Common Agenda” is setting the direction by and large for its actions post-UNFSS. The transformation of food systems is specified as a proposed action in its commitment to protecting the planet, with the climate emergency in the backdrop.
Integral to the UN’s agenda of action is a “more networked, more inclusive, and more effective multilateralism.” Corporations, rich nations, international finance institutions, and other neoliberal actors remain indispensable in the UN vision of transforming the global food systems.
In the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance. This was followed in May by the UN General Assembly’s adoption of a resolution to “address the global food security crisis.”
A High-Level Special Event was convened in July, consolidating the various food crisis response initiatives launched by donor countries, global and regional blocs, international financial institutions, and other intergovernmental bodies.
The UN Food Systems Coordination Hub, created during the UNFSS to follow up on its outcomes, has just begun its work. It coordinates technical and policy support for implementing the “national pathways” for food systems transformation. With innovation at the core, the World Economic Forum plays an influential role by bringing in “nature-positive” knowledge and technology of corporations.
This coordination of global response to the food crisis and the policy recommendations issued are consistent with the outcomes of the UNFSS: the promotion and financing of neoliberal reforms and corporate-driven technologies that only secure corporate profit at the expense of the Global South countries that are pushed to rely more and more on debt for survival. Rural peoples and other marginalized sectors are still nowhere at the helm of decision-making.
While food systems will finally have a day of focus in the upcoming 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) this November—a welcome development—our hope of its outcome is just as grim. Like other multilateral platforms, COP is dominated by corporate interests, which are expected to peddle their false solutions to the hunger and climate crises.
To discuss these developments, their impacts, and the response of people’s movements, the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty, PAN Asia Pacific, and Int’l Indigenous People’s Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation are organizing Breaking the Imperialist Food Chains: Online Forum on the Global Food Crisis on October 10, 2022. The event is part of World Hunger Day 2022 commemoration of PCFS, PANAP, and Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) as well as the #Fight4OurFuture campaign of the IPMSDL.