Agrarian Reform and Food Sovereignty: Solution to Climate Change Crisis

La Via Campesina; Focus on the Global South; Friends of the Earth


Date: October 3rd 2009
Time: 14.30 -17.30
Place : Marble Temple School, Bangkok
Participants: Via Campesina and other social movements

The impacts of global warming and climate change are being felt all over the world. Every region is experiencing significant changes in rainfall patterns and mean temperatures. While some areas face unseasonal and extreme rainfall, others face recurring droughts; typhoons and cyclones have become more frequent and sea levels are rising to the extent that might some sea-front areas might sink altogether. Climate change is also resulting in food scarcity and increasing hunger through increasing unpredictability in growing seasons, harvest failures, and increasing pest outbreaks. Climate catastrophes have serious and long term ecological impacts including biodiversity erosion, which in turn result in loss of food sources, hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

Unfortunately, mounting evidence of the climate crisis has not led to real, concrete solutions to address it. Proposals on the negotiating table of the Kyoto protocol and UNFCCC will not cut Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. On the contrary, the proposed so-called solutions will deepen the climate crisis and threaten the well-being and survival of much of humankind today and in the future.

Instead of cutting emissions, developed countries, International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and other international agencies are promoting carbon/emissions trading and offsetting, which continue to allow the high GHG emitters to keep on emitting GHGs by paying for 'low carbon' or emission-reducing projects in developing countries. In developing countries, such projects have led to the dispossession of smallhold farmers and indigenous communities from farm, commons and forest lands that are allocated for carbon trading projects and schemes. Changes in land allocations in Southern countries will create situations where land is not used to provide food and livelihoods for smallhold farmers but only as carbon sequestration zones in market led schemes. Not only do such mechanisms not cut emissions, but they allow polluters to increase GHG emissions and thus accelerate global warming.

This is an unacceptable situation. Smallhold farmers and indigenous communities are the defenders of food, agriculture, water, forests, biodiversity and the environment. They keep the earth cool by practicing peasant based agro-ecological farming. Instead of displacing and dispossessing these eco-system defenders through emissions trading, the Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) and the proposed Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). The world needs to safeguard and support their productive and creative capacities through genuine and comprehensive agrarian reform and polices that promote food sovereignty. Agro-ecological production and food sovereignty offer sustainable and long term solutions to the multi dimensional crises of food, finance and climate change.

We need to redistribute land to smallhold farmers and landless farmers, and uphold the rights of indigenous communities to their lands and territories through agrarian reform, and enable them farmers to protect their lands from the disastrous effects of carbon speculation and other market led proposals.

We invite you to a discussion on how agrarian reform and food sovereignty are real and concrete solutions to the climate crisis and how they can help us to address poverty and hunger.