Three food system leaders, including a UN Special Rapporteur, have stepped down from their roles on the UN Food Systems Summit, as the panel of experts they belong to withdraws its support for the event.
A statement from the independent body, the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems, says the Summit’s processes have “set a dangerous precedent for the entire UN System, and threaten to usher in a new era of corporate-led multi-stakeholderism.”
IPES’s concerns about the Summit had not been resolved ahead of “a key milestone – the pre-Summit” held over three days from Monday this week, and this triggered the resignations.
The statement says, “Members of IPES-Food are therefore stepping down with immediate effect from roles held within the Summit process.”
IPES co-chair Olivier De Schutter, also UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, had been leading Sustainable Management in Boosting Nature-Positive Production at Sufficient Scales. His IPES co-chair Mamadou Goïta was working on the Champions Network.
“We will continue to support the re-engagement of UN bodies with agroecology”
Emile Frison had been working on Agroecology and Regenerative Agriculture, and will continue to support this in a private capacity.
The statement says IPES withdraws its support with regret, “the world urgently needed a food systems summit, but not this Summit.
“In withdrawing, we note the important progress on agroecology, and congratulate States and other allies for bringing attention to its transformative potential and ensuring it has a place on the pre-Summit agenda.
“We will continue to support the re-engagement of UN bodies with agroecology [and] the emergence of government commitments to agroecology.”
IPES had “put concerns temporarily aside in the hope that they would be addressed by the time key milestones were reached,” the statement says, “However, the pre-Summit has now arrived, and the concerns, raised so clearly and consistently by farmers’ organisations, social movements, civil society, Indigenous Peoples, and independent scientists, have not been addressed.”
“There’s been a focus on scalable, investment-friendly solutions”
IPES says Summit organisers bypassed the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS), “the foremost democratic space for discussing the future of food systems” as well as a High-Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) regularly providing reports.
“By bypassing the CFS and hastily constructing a new architecture, the Summit organisers showed little interest in genuine participation. From the start, the Summit threatened to replace democratic debate with increasingly unaccountable modes of decision-making.”
IPES says the Summit’s rules of engagement were determined by a small set of actors, “The private sector, organisations serving the private sector (notably the World Economic Forum), and a handful of scientific experts kick-started the process and framed the agenda. That has meant a focus on scalable, investment-friendly, ‘game-changing’ solutions.”