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[afro-nets] Thousands of people gather at counter mobilization to reiterate We need food systems that empower people not companies

UN Food Systems Pre-Summit falls disappointingly short on climate, COVID and 
food systems transformation, say counter-mobilization participants, which 
totalled almost 9,000 people.

Rome, Italy. 2 August 2021. Between 25 and 28 July 2021, some 9,000 people 
participated in a mostly virtual counter-mobilization to oppose the United 
Nations Food Systems Pre-Summit. The event was hailed a success owing to the 
great and varied attendance as well as its ability to successfully catalyze and 
amplify a counter-narrative to the Pre-Summit. With critical articles and 
pieces published in major media outlets such as BBC 
<>, Al Jazeera 
 and Italian state TV Rai 
 and several thousands social media publications including the hashtag 
#FoodSystems4People, the counter-mobilization succeeded in breaking through the 
mainstream discourse.

Entitled “People’s counter-mobilization to transform corporate food systems,” 
the activities kicked off with an eight hours-long global virtual rally 
<>. The massively-attended virtual 
event consisted in a string of declarations, artistic performances and live 
mobilizations by hundreds of individuals and organizations from all continents, 
representing smallholder farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolks, indigenous 
peoples, agricultural and food workers, landless, women, youth, consumers, 
urban food insecure, NGOs, journalists and academics.

On 26 and 27 July, the counter-mobilization provided a space and time for 
dialogue about the threats posed by increasingly corporate-controlled and 
globalized food systems and the already existing viable solutions to overcome 
them. An opening declaration 
 summarizing the demands of the process organizing the counter-mobilization - 
the People’s Autonomous Response to the UNFSS - was officially released. The 
Food Systems Summit process was designed to serve a corporate agenda. How do 
governments accept having their authority and sovereignty taken over by the 
industry?,” questioned Paula Gioia, smallholder food producer and member of La 
Via Campesina.

On 26 July, three different round tables to unmask the UNFSS and its attempts 
to open the doors for the corporate capture of food governance and science were 
organized. Zoltán Kalmán, Retired Ambassador and Former Permanent 
Representative of Hungary to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome, 
echoed a statement shared by hundreds of academics in a recent letter
 the UN Food Systems Summit is a danger to the neutrality of science. We don't 
need a new Science-Policy-Interface for food. Instead, we should strengthen 
existing models such as the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE). In the same 
line, the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES) 
officially announced 
its withdrawal from the UNFSS process.

On 27 July, the counter-mobilization continued building momentum with a rich 
programme of 15 self-organized virtual dialogues on topics ranging from 
reclaiming Africa’s seed sovereignty, to how food sovereignty is building 
justice-based alternatives, and how multistakeholderism threatens food systems, 
people & states. Corina Muñoz of the World March of Women summarised the 
sentiment of the day when she stated that “Today they tell us what to produce, 
how to produce and what to eat. We are still under colonial logic. The poorest 
countries continue to be influenced by the richest in this regard.” In 
addition, there were four sessions dedicated to celebrating people’s vision for 
reclaiming power and transforming the industrial food systems in Abya Yala 
(Latin America and the Caribbean), Turtle Island (North America), Africa and 

The counter-mobilization ended with statements from indigenous leaders and 
representatives of social movements, as well as a mystica ceremony in Zapoteca 
language. Saúl Vicente of the International Indian Treaty Council and Civil 
Society and Indigenous Peoples’s Mechanism closed the session with a message of 
hope. "They wanted to bury us so that we would disappear, but they didn't know 
we were seeds."

The People’s autonomous response to the UNFSS is now assessing the outcomes of 
the Pre-summit and will monitor the process as it unfolds. However, it is 
already unequivocally clear that the pre-Summit has reached an end without any 
resolution of the fundamental issues which hundreds of organizations 
 demanded addressing. A final statement including a critical analysis of the 
Pre-Summit's outcomes will be released before the Summit.


Media contact

Marion Girard, Media officer at the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’
Mechanism (CSM 
 for relations with the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS)


Counter-Mobilization microsite:

Recorded session videos: YouTube channel

Marion Girard

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