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New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa raises concerns

Two new papers, one by FIAN International and another from Terra Nuova and the Transnational Institute, raise human rights and corporate takeover concerns about the G8 initiative "New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa". This public-private partnership initiative includes more than 150 companies - among them the biggest transnational corporations in the food and agriculture sector.

FIAN’s analysis argues that the initiative ignores general human rights principles such as effective participation, lacks human rights risk analyses and reference to adequate accountability mechanisms, and contradicts a human rights-based framework in key issues relevant for those most affected by hunger and malnutrition (Item 1). The paper fundamentally questions the legitimate role of the G8 in regards to food security and nutrition and instead demands that G8 countries implement the decisions by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and do not sideline and weaken the CFS as the foremost legitimate and democratic multilateral governing body on food security and nutrition.

Terra Nuova and Transnational Institute's report reveals how the involvement and financial power of global corporations have shaped the new “co-operation framework” to open the door for investment that enriches private corporations and endangers small-scale farmers across Africa (Item 2). It traces the emergence of the New Alliance and suggests that the benefits promised by donors and the private sector evaporate when critical farmers and their advocates attempt to determine the actual impacts of these programmes. Policy changes that privatize the collective resources on which rural peoples’ livelihoods depend and revise seed laws to promote corporations’ products are proposed without any process of consultation with national stakeholders, in effect undermining the bases of democracy.

Read the full FIAN policy paper here: http://www.fian.org/fileadmin/media/publications/2014_G8NewAlliance_screen.pdf

Read the full report by Terra Nuova and the Transnational Institute: http://www.tni.org/briefing/new-alliance-food-security-and-nutrition

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Item 1

New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa raises concerns

Ahead of the G7 Summit in Brussels, FIAN raises human rights concerns about the G8 New Alliance initiative

Heidelberg/Germany, Geneva/Switzerland - May 16, 2014: Two weeks before the G7 Summit of June 4, 5 in Brussels, FIAN International raises grave human rights concerns about the G8 initiative "New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa" in a policy paper published today.



Titled "G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa: A Critical Analysis from a Human Rights Perspective", the policy paper argues that this initiative ignores general human rights principles and contradicts a human rights-based framework in key issues relevant for those most affected by hunger and malnutrition: small-scale food producers. FIAN calls on the G8 governments to stop this public-private partnership initiative that includes more than 150 companies - among them the biggest transnational corporations in the food and agriculture sector. Moreover, FIAN highlights the G8 initiative also ignores general human rights principles, like effective participation, and lacks human rights risk analyses and reference to adequate accountability mechanisms.



FIAN criticizes the G8 initiative as bluntly equating the opening of agriculture and food markets to foreign investors with combating hunger and malnutrition. An explicit expression of this erroneous understanding is the "success" indicators of the initiative: in most of the New Alliance Cooperation Frameworks for countries, the World Bank Doing Business Index and "increased private investments" are the key indicators. This alone shows the initiative is excessively biased towards the corporate sector.



FIAN's policy paper directly contrasts policy actions of the G8 initiative in four key areas: seeds, land, social protection/income, and nutrition with a human rights framework. The results speak for themselves:



For example, where the UN-Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food asks governments to implement farmers' rights (as defined in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources), the G8-led initiative pushes for the "implementation of national seed regulation" for greater private sector involvement.



Similarly, where the human right to adequate food and nutrition includes improved access to land for small-scale food producers "to feed oneself" and for those groups directly affected by land grabbing, the corporate-driven agenda of the G8 initiative is concerned about an easy and cheap process of land allocation for investors.



An increase of private sector involvement is furthermore evident in the area of social protection - an area which has traditionally been the sole responsibility of the state. The role of the state in relation to social protection is reduced through the creation of a climate beneficial to foreign investment by formulating corporate-friendly policy frameworks and opening up social protection-related areas to private investors. Also, the income-generating measures propagated by the G8 need to be assessed carefully due primarily to the fact that the strategy of the Alliance is geared toward land acquisition for private corporations focusing on large-scale, capital-intensive, and extensive agriculture which requires reduced labor input.



Furthermore, the G8's simplistic understanding of the nutritional dimension of food production has resulted in the proposal of a limited economic model. It neglects the fact that food and nutrition security does not simply entail the increase of caloric intake, but rather a consistent access to diverse and nutritious diets (in terms of quantity and quality), culturally-adequate food, the recognition of the important role of protecting women's rights and their nutrition, as well as access to basic public services to ensure nutritional well-being and human dignity.



In conclusion, FIAN's policy paper fundamentally questions the legitimate role of the G8 in regards to food security and nutrition. It reiterates the demand that G8 countries implement the decisions by Committee on World Food Security (CFS), such as the Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests, and do not sideline and weaken the CFS as the foremost legitimate and democratic multilateral governing body on food security and nutrition with such an initiative.

Item 2

The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition  will benefit corporations and endanger Africa’s small farmers

Amsterdam/Rome, June 2 2014

On the eve of the G7 meeting in Brussels and two months before President Obama welcomes African leaders to a summit aimed at boosting trade and investment relations, a new report by Terra Nuova and the Transnational Institute unmasks the corporate push to conquer a continent that the World Bank has termed “the last frontier in global food and agriculture markets”.

The new report, launched today, reveals the many ways in which global corporations are influencing development programmes for Africa. Their involvement and financial power has shaped “the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition” a new “co-operation framework” opening the door for investment that enriches private corporations and endangers small-scale farmers across Africa under the banner of “development”. However, African farmer and international civil society organisations are resisting at all levels, including globally in the Committee on World Food Security.

The report, “The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition: a coup for corporate capital?” argues that small-scale producers – the majority of the population – are already responsible for 80% of the food consumed in Africa and can meet the rising demand in Africa’s cities with proper support. Programmes like the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, instead, are likely to push them off their land or lock them into global food supply chains that impoverish them further while enriching international corporations.

The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, a new “co-operation framework” launched at the 2012 G8 Summit in the US and boosted at the 2013 Summit in the UK, now covers 10 African countries and brings well over 100 companies to the table as donors, in addition to the G8 governments and the European Union. The stated aim of this initiative is “to accelerate responsible investment in African agriculture and lift 50 million people out of poverty by 2022”. The partnership includes commitments by African leaders to “refine policies in order to improve investment opportunities”.  Private sector companies, meanwhile, “have collectively committed more than $3 billion to increase investments” while “donor partners [including the EU]…will support Africa’s potential for rapid and sustained agricultural growth, and ensure accountability”.

This paper traces how the New Alliance has emerged from a complex interaction between single corporations, philanthrocapitalist foundations, corporate private sector forums, bilateral and multilateral aid programmes and African authorities. It sheds light on the faulty rhetoric on which the New Alliance bases its claims to fight food insecurity and compares rhetoric to reality. The paper suggests that, as in the classic confidence trick, the benefits promised by the private sector and by donors evaporate when the “shell” is overturned, when critical farmers and their advocates attempt to determine the actual impacts of these programmes. What remains are policy changes that penalize small-scale producers and reward corporations by privatizing the collective resources on which rural peoples’ livelihoods depend and revising seed laws to promote corporations’ products and limit farmers’ rights to use their own seeds. Corporate private sector investments are protected, while those of farmers – which make up 90% of all investments in agriculture according to the FAO – go unprotected.

These changes are being enacted without any process of consultation with national stakeholders. Since the small-scale producers who are adversely affected by these changes constitute the majority of the population of the countries concerned, the New Alliance is in effect undermining the fragile bases of democracy that the G8 governments rhetorically pat themselves on the back for defending.

Finally, this paper documents the counter movements underway in Africa and in the recently reformed global Committee on World Food Security (CFS). The New Alliance has been heavily criticized by civil society for promoting the interests of the corporations rather than those of African small-scale food producers and citizens. The CFS is currently negotiating principles aimed at ensuring that investment in agriculture promotes food security, the right to food, and smallholders’ livelihoods rather than corporate profits.

“The Alliance that could really vanquish hunger would be one between African governments and their own small-scale producers” said Nora McKeon, the author of the report. “A combination of pressure from above – as in the reformed CFS – and political pressure from below – from organized and articulate citizens – may well be the best way to get there.”

 


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