Stop the corporate hijack of the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit!

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We, civil society organizations, grassroots groups and advocates for the welfare of marginalized sectors, call for the revocation of the 2019 Strategic Partnership  between the United Nations (UN) and the World Economic Forum (WEF) and its implications for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

We express our grave concerns with regard to the WEF’s opportunism in attempting to influence the processes and outcome of the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit (FSS) through this partnership. The WEF – an organized global platform in which the world’s corporate giants, plutocrats and heads of states converge to promote the corporate agenda in the guise of “improving the state of the world” – aims to cement its dictate through the recalibration of our food systems and agriculture. By positioning themselves as indispensable actors in accelerating the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, they are, in reality, attempting to further their own interests in amassing super profits. A clear indication of this is their financing of the 2030 Agenda as the first area of focus specified in the UN-WEF strategic partnership framework and the appointment of an agribusiness representative as the Special Envoy for the Summit.

We reject this corporate hijacking of the 2021 FSS. The WEF will exploit the Summit to streamline neoliberal globalization, which it has espoused for the past 50 years. It is the perfect venue to push for the role of “Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies” to transform food systems, which the WEF has been championing since 2017. A corporate-led FSS would be a great advantage to the political elites and corporate billionaires, enabling them to pose hypocritically as responsible entities that promote healthier diets and climate action.

We therefore urge the UN to rescind the involvement of the WEF in the FSS. We recognize the Summit’s potential for decisively addressing the structural issues hounding our food systems and agriculture, but the change we envision is impossible to achieve so long as the WEF is involved. It would mean that global inequality and corporate monopoly would be sidetracked rather than confronted as the root causes of perennial hunger, malnutrition and extreme poverty in the world.

Lastly, we appeal for inclusivity. The sidelined and marginalized sectors in society – the poor farmers, workers, Indigenous Peoples, herders, pastoralists, fisherfolks, urban poor, women, Dalits, and youth – should replace these corporate moguls in shaping the Summit’s proceedings and reforms. Their demands, interests and welfare should set the tone and direction of the Summit’s declarations. People’s rights should take center stage in the 2021 UN FSS.

For a truly inclusive transformation of food systems! ###

As of 31 January 2021, a total of 153 organizations from 31 countries and seven advocates have supported this sign-on statement. For organizations that would like to join the list of signatories, kindly email us at secretariat@foodsov.org.