A NEO-IMPERIALIST FOOD REGIME REINFORCED BY AGENDA 2063, THE UNFCCC, AND THE CBD

As the Convention on Biodiversity Conservation’s (CBD) fifteenth Conference of Parties (COP 15) is about to begin, where a new deal on biodiversity, the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) will be finalised and adopted, African CSOs are calling for the transition away from industrial agriculture – the primary driver of biodiversity loss – towards agroecology; i.e. socially just and ecologically sustainable seed and food systems. However, to date, negotiations mirror what is transpiring on the continent, where greater efforts are being directed at marginalising African small-scale food producers at all levels, visible in the aggressive push to industrialise African agricultural and food systems, spearheaded by, inter alia, the African Union (AU) and the continent’s Regional Economic Communities. 

This series of five interconnected briefing papers, The Africa we want? A neo-imperialist food regime reinforced by Agenda 2063, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the CBD, reminds us that European imperialism ruptured and reconfigured agricultural production and food consumption, establishing structural problems that continue to this day, exacerbated by neoliberal economic policies. The briefings reflect on the inability of both the UNFCCC and the CBD, to address collapsing socio-ecological systems and rather, its complicity in re-embedding geopolitical inequality, debt, and underdevelopment in Africa. 

PART 1 OF 5

The first paper, briefly outlines the history of agricultural extractivism on the continent, rooted in colonialism, which radically altered the agricultural landscape, and persisted during the post-colonial era.

 

©Pablo Tosco:Oxfam. 2012. Flickr

PART 2 OF 5

The second paper, briefly explores the rise of neoliberal globalisation, the emergence of corporate agribusiness, and its role in consolidating an increasingly unequal food system between Africa and the rest of the world.

©UN Women:Ryan Brown. 2018. Flickr

PART 3 OF 5

The third looks at the AU’s Agenda 2063, and the industrialisation agenda being driven by the AU. 

©Ronald Vriesema. 2014. Flickr

PART 4 OF 5

The fourth paper further explores the trajectory of the African agriculture development model, and points to especially an aggressive agribusiness and agro-industrialisation prioritisation, within the context of biodiversity-climate-debt crises. 

©Evelyn Simak _ A crop of sorghum

PART 5 OF 5

Finally, the fifth paper calls on African governments to be bolder and spearhead a future where all can survive and thrive. 

©Mick Harper / Shutterstock.com

In particular, in relation to the GBF, we are calling on Parties to ensure that the GBF’s Target 10 on agriculture contains an explicit reference to agroecological principles, to ensure the sustainable use of biodiversity, and charter the course towards transforming our food systems. In this regard, we are calling on Contracting Parties to hold businesses accountable for transgressions, and this must be captured clearly in target 15 (accountability of business and financial institutions) and target 16 (consumption); and the phasing out of highly hazardous pesticides currently captured in Alt 1 of Target 7.

Furthermore, there must be the integration of in-situ (i.e. on-farm) conservation of agricultural biodiversity into the framework. In particular:

  • Domesticated plant species must be kept within Target 4, as many plants essential for food production are not necessarily indigenous, wild, or native;
  • Centres of origin and crop diversity should be given prominence in the GBF and accorded protection with regard to avoiding contamination and erosion from and by genetically modified organisms within their centres of origin/diversity; and
  • Agricultural biodiversity and small-holder farmers should be specifically referred to in Target 10.

These improvements to the GBF must, however, be coupled with overall approaches that address and halt the drivers of biodiversity loss and courageously spearhead a new future for us all. The transition toward a more just, equitable, and sustainable future is not only urgent, but it is indispensable for the future of us all, and agricultural and food systems are central to this.