Drought in El Salvador. Photo ©Sean Hawkey

I’m linking to an important response to some of the greenwash that takes place around the discussion of agriculture and climate change. The big United Nation Conference of Parties on climate change is about to take place in Paris, yet extremely significant greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture are not even on the agenda (!!!). (And this.)  Nonetheless there will certainly be a lot of conversation and media attention to issues of food and climate, and “Climate Smart Agriculture” with all its public-relations backing might get lots of airplay in the discussions that surround the central negotiations.

So many of us hope against cynicism that the urgency of the climate crisis can see a joining together of people and concerns.  When you scroll down to the list of signatories to this letter, you get an idea how vast our social movements can be.  We need people, not corporations, at the centre of decision making, envisioning and enacting a better future.  Our messages must be powerful for our language to be so coopted and coveted by them.  Please share this letter in response to agribusiness rhetoric, and as foodies concerned with climate justice.

DON’T BE FOOLED! 
CIVIL SOCIETY SAYS NO TO “CLIMATE SMART AGRICULTURE” AND URGES DECISION-MAKERS TO SUPPORT AGROECOLOGY
SEPTEMBER 2015

We, the undersigned, belong to civil society organizations including social movements, peasants/farmers organizations and faith-based organizations from around the world. We are working to tackle the impacts of climate change that are already disrupting farming and food systems and threatening the food and nutrition security of millions of individuals. As we move towards COP21 in Paris, we welcome a growing recognition of the urgent need to adapt food systems to a changing climate, and the key role of agroecology within a food and seed sovereignty framework in achieving this, while contributing to mitigation through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

However, despite these promising signals, we share deep concerns about the growing influence and agenda of so-called “Climate-Smart Agriculture” (CSA) and the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture (GACSA). Climate change is the biggest and the most urgent threat our societies face. We need a radical transformation of our food systems away from an industrial model and its false solutions, and toward food sovereignty, local food systems, and integral agrarian reform in order to achieve the full realization of the human right to adequate food and nutrition. We therefore urge decision-makers at country and UN levels to reject the dangerous rhetoric of Climate-Smart Agriculture.

Climate Smart Agriculture must not be confused with agroecology

Climate Smart Agriculture must not be confused with agroecology. Agroecology is a holistic approach to agriculture, based on principles of ecology as well as food and nutrition security, food sovereignty and food justice which seek to enhance agricultural systems by using and recycling natural resources instead of relying on externally-purchased inputs. It encourages local/national food production by small food producers and family farmers, and is based on techniques that are not delivered from the top-down, but developed from farmers’ traditional knowledge and practices as well as from farmer innovations. This approach is based on farmers’ participation and makes nature a powerful ally in ensuring food and nutrition security, building healthy soils and conserving water. It increases farmers’ incomes and resilience in the face of climate change, while improving biodiversity and crop diversity. It is therefore crucial for all efforts to realize the human right to adequate food and nutrition. Governments must recognise that industrial approaches that degrade soil health and water retention, pollute water systems, poison nature and create dependency on external inputs, impoverish biodiversity and ecosystems are not only harmful and unnecessary, but also deeply misguided for a planet facing hunger, ecological crises and climate change.

“Climate-Smart Agriculture” may sound promising, but it is a politically-motivated term. The approach does not involve any criteria to define what can or cannot be called “Climate Smart”. Agribusiness corporations that promote synthetic fertilisers, industrial meat production and large-scale industrial agriculture – all of which are widely recognised as contributing to climate change and undermining the resilience of farming systems – can and do call themselves “Climate Smart”. CSA claims to include all models of agriculture. However it lacks any social or environmental safeguards and fails to prioritize farmers’ voices, knowledge and rights as key to facing and mitigating our climate challenges. It therefore actually threatens to undermine agroecological approaches as defined by practitioners, while endangering the future development and upscaling of such approaches.

GACSA : opening doors for greenwashing

The Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture was launched one year ago and is now putting a lot of energy into its outreach campaign, while its Action Groups have started working on their own objectives. As of 20th July, its membership of 21 nations comprised of only ten developing countries and three farmers´ organisations – in contrast with a wide corporate membership. While some organisations from civil society and rural social movements rejected the GACSA from the beginning, others have made repeated efforts to engage with it to reduce the threat of green-washing and false solutions. In spite of these efforts, the concerns expressed were largely ignored, as recently recognised in a paper issued by the Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales (IDDRI). Instead, some of agriculture’s least environmentally sensitive actors were welcomed into the alliance: 60% of the private sector membership of the alliance is related to the fertilizer industry. In addition, transnational corporations that have questionable social and environmental impacts, such as MonsantoWalmart and McDonalds have launched their own “climate-smart agriculture” programs.

Climate Smart Agriculture: a concept that has no place as a climate strategy

As the UN picks up the pace for action on climate towards COP21 and beyond, we call on countries to recognise that the Climate-Smart Agriculture path can take us in the wrong direction, falling short of ensuring food and nutrition security, and undermining the radical transformation of current food and agricultural systems that the world urgently needs. Without definitions, criteria, standards, safeguards or exclusions, “Climate Smart Agriculture” is a meaningless and dangerous concept that has no place as a climate strategy. Moreover, the GACSA is not accountable to any UN structure involved in food security, climate or agriculture.

With new instruments for international climate finance being put in place to spend many billions of dollars, there is a real risk that wealthier countries – in their aim to meet their financial commitments – may end up funding projects and programmes that direct resources towards false solutions in countries where they have vested interests. Thus:

  • As the Green Climate Fund programme of work gets underway, we welcome the importance given to adaptation. Agriculture will be a principal component of this programme. However, we urge the GCF Board not to accredit any programme of work or institution that is based on Climate Smart Agriculture. Instead, we strongly encourage them to support community-based solutions emerging from frontline communities, such as agroecology.
  • An “Agenda of Solutions” is being created for COP21 which aims to demonstrate the commitment of non-state actors to reaching a new and ambitious legal agreement in 2015, and which could be included or referred to in the outcome document of COP 21 along with the negotiated agreement. We urge governments not to endorse Climate Smart Agriculture as a solution to climate change, nor to label any other initiative that would be part of the “agenda of solutions” as part of the concept.

Agroecology as the mainstream pillar of agricultural policy frameworks worldwide

We face a critical moment. Real solutions to climate change must be agreed upon and urgently adopted. We urge decision-makers to stand against green-washed false solutions rebranded as CSA, and to have the courage to recognise and promote the decisive role of agroecology in ensuring food and nutrition security, the full realization of the human right to adequate food and nutrition, and food sovereignty in the face of climate change, resource scarcity, and growing demand challenges. The international and regional processes that emanated from the FAOs Symposium on Agroecology in September 2014 as well as the upcoming Committee on World Food Security High Level Panel of Experts report on “Sustainable agricultural development” and the recent Nyéléni Declaration of the International Forum for Agroecology, present a unique opportunity for agroecology to be endorsed as the mainstream pillar of agricultural policy frameworks worldwide. Moreover, communities, civil society organizations, organised social movements, peasants and faith-based organizations are developing, strengthening, and supporting alternatives at local and national level have proven to be successful in the global fight against climate change. We call on decision makers to acknowledge this broad range of tangible and concrete actions, to listen, support and accompany them, while not succumbing to global top-down initiatives that rely on models from the past.

We therefore call upon decision makers to endorse the application of agroecology internationally within the UN processes relating to climate change and agriculture, as well as at national level.

SIGNATORIES

INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS (59)

ACT Alliance EU
ActionAid International
AFRICA-EUROPE FAITH AND JUSTICE NETWORK (AEFJN)
African Women Economic Policy Network
Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA)
ALAI – Agencia Latinoamericana de Información
ARENA
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)
Asia Pacific Farmers Forum
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
Asia-Pacific Network for Food Sovereignty (APNFS)
Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD)
CASA – Consejo de Asentamientos Sustentables de la América Latin
Climate Action Network – South Asia (CAN-SA)
CIDSE (International Alliance of Catholic Development Agencies)
COPAGEN (Coalition pour la Protection du Patrimoine Génétique Africain)
Corporate Europe Observatory
Dachverband Kulturpflanzen- und Nutztiervielfalt
Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF)
ECOROPA (European Network on Ecological Reflection and Action)
ENDA Tiers Monde
ETC Group
Fair World Project
FIAN International
Focus on the Global South
Friends of the Earth Europe
Friends of the Earth International
GRAIN
Greenpeace
Groundswell International
ICCA Consortium (Indigenous peoples’ and community conserved territories and areas)
IFOAM EU Group
IFOAM – organics international
International Federation of Rural Adult Catholic Movements (FIMARC)
International Network Urgenci (international network for Community-Supported Agriculture)
JVE (Jeunes Volontaires Pour l’Environnement) International
LDC Watch
Migrant Forum in Asia
Participatory Ecological Land Use Management Association (Pelum)
People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS)
Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD Regional)
Regional Civil Society Network for Food Security  and Nutrition  from Portuguese-Speaking Countries (REDSAN – CPLP)
Regeneration International, International
Réseau Climat & Développement
RIPESS Intercontinental
Servicio Internacional Cristiano de Solidaridad con los Pueblos de América Latina – SICSAL
SEAFISH for Justice
Slow Food
Sociedad Científica Latinoamericana de Agroecología (SOCLA)
Solidarity Economy Europe
South Asian Alliance for Povery Eradication
South Asian Network for Social & Agricultural Development (SANSAD)
South Asia Peasants Coalition
Third World Network
Towards Organic Asia (TOA)
Urgenci Europe
Via Campesina
World Rainforest Movement

NATIONAL ORGANISATIONS (305)
A
African Centre for Biodiversity South Africa and Tanzania
A Cultivar que se acaba el mundo, Argentina
Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières (AVSF), France
Action Contre la Faim (ACF), France
Asociacion de Desarrollo Tzuul Taq’a, Guatemala
ABONG (Associação Brasileira de ONGs), Brazil
All Nepal Peasants Federation, Nepal
Action Communautaire des Femmes Autochtones du Congo, DR Congo
Acción por la Biodiversidad, Argentina
Association pour le Développement Durable – Médenin, Tunisia
Association des Femmes Peules Autochtones du Tchad (AFPAT), Tchad
Asociación Nacional de Empresas Comercializadoras de Prodcutores del Campo (ANEC-México)
APEDDUB (Association pour la Protection de l’Environnement et le Développement Durable de Bizerte), Tunisia
Ação Franciscana de Ecologia e Solidariedad – AFES, Brazil
Agrecol Association for AgriCulture & Ecology, Germany
Active Society Nepal (ASN), Nepal
Aas welfare Society, Pakistan
Asociación Vida Sana, Spain
Alliance Sud, Switzerland
Asociación Nacional de Fomento a la Agricultura Ecologica – ANAFAE, Honduras
Alianza Hondureña de Cambio Climático – AHCC, Honduras
Acción Educativa Santa Fe, Argentina
Asociación Latinoamericana de Educación Radiofónica ALER, Ecuador
AMADE PELCODE, Mali
Actions Communautaires pour le Développement Intégral (ACDI), DR Congo
ALVF Extreme Nord, Cameroon
Alternatives Durables pour le Développement, Cameroon
Association Congolaise pour le Développement Agricole ACDA, République du Congo (Brazzaville)
ANAND SEEDS, Colombia
ACTUAR – Association for Cooperation and Development, Portugal
Adivasi Mulvasi Astitva Raksha manch, India
AKSI, Indonesia
All Nepal Womens Association
ATTAC France
B
Brot für die Welt, Germany
Biofuelwatch, UK
Biowatch South Africa
Bolivian Platform on Climate Change, Bolivia
Broederlijk Delen, Belgium
Bread for all, Switzerland
BASE Investigaciones Sociales, Paraguay
Brigada Cimarrona Sebastián Lemba, Republica Dominica
Bangladesh Krishok Federation
Bangladesh Jatiyo Sramik Jote
Bulig Visayas, Philippines
Brigada Cimarrona Sebastián Lemba, Republica Dominica
C
Climate Express, Belgium
CNCD-11.11.11, Belgium
Comité Français pour la Solidarité Internationale (CFSI), France
Center for Food Safety, USA
Community Alliance for Global Justice (CAGJ), USA
Carbon Underground, USA
CCFD-Terre Solidaire, France
Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo S.J. (CSMM), Ecuador
Caritas Sénégal
Centro de Estudios Ecuménicos A.C, Mexico
Casa Cultural Tejiendo Sororidades, Colombia
Colectivo DEDISE, Colombia
CooperAccion, Peru
Centro de Promocion de la Mujer Gregoria Apaza, Bolivia
Corporación Colombia Joven, Colombia
CLUSA, El Salvador
Coalición Nacional de Redes y Organizaciones Ambientales – CONROA, Honduras
Centro Hondureño de Promoción al Desarrollo Comunitario – CEHPRODEC, Honduras
Centro de Estudios Étnicos de Colombia
CIPCA (Centro de Investigación y Promoción del Campesinado), Bolivia
Comité de Impulso Nacional de la Agricultura Familiar, Colombia
Centre pour l’Environnement et le Développement, Cameroon
Colegio de Graduados en Cooperativismo y Mutualismo (CGCyM), Argentina
Climaxi vzw, Belgium
CAMERWASH, Cameroon
Centro Nueva Tierra, Argentina
COOPERATIVA AGROPECUÁRIA CACHO DE OURO COOPERCACHO, Brazil
Community Development Library, Bangladesh
Campaign for Climate Justice Nepal, Nepal
Center for Environmental Justice, Sri Lanka
Codacop – Corporación de Apoyo a Comunidades Populares, Colombia
CARI (Centre d’Actions et de Réalisations Internationales), France
CIASE – Corporación de Investigación y Acción Social y Económica, Colombia
CEDLA – Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo Laboral y Agrario, Bolivia
CBC – Centro Bartolomé de Las Casas, Peru
Censat Agua Viva – Amigos de la Tierra Colombia
CEDEBI –  Asociación Colectivo Ecuménico de Biblistas, Colombia
Community Agroecology Network, USA
Centro Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Cuba
D
Devarao Shivaram Trust, India
Dulal, India
Dinamismo Juvenil A.C., Mexico
Development and Peace, Canada
DKA Austria
Debt Watch, Indonesia
E
Entraide & Fraternité, Belgium
EcoNexus, UK
El Grupo Semillas, Colombia
Eco Ruralis, Romania
Escuela Campesina de Educación y Salud (ESCAES), Peru
Equipo de Comunicación ALternativa con Mujeres ECAM, Bolivia
ESAFF Swaziland
Elkana, Georgia
Ecologistes en Accio de Catalunya, Spain
Ecologistas en Acción, Spain
Ecological Agriculture Australia Association (EAAA), Australia
Educación y Comunicaciones (ECO), Chile
Ecosystem  based  Adaptation  for Food  Security  Assembly (EBAFOSA), Burundi
ECOBENIN, Benin
ENERGIES 2050, France
Equipo de Agricultura Urbana (Jardín Botánico de Medellín), Colombia
Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food (EBAFOSA), Burundi
EquityBD, Bangladesh
F
Find Your Feet, UK
Food Sovereignty Ghana, Ghana
Fédération Inter-Environnement Wallonie, Belgium
Fundación Caósmosis, Colombia
FUNDESYRAM, El Salvador
FUNDACIÓN MUNDUBAT, Spain
Fundación PASOS, Bolivia
Fambidzanai Permaculture Centre, Zimbabwe
Family Farm Defenders, USA
FIAN Austria
FIAN Belgium
FIAN Germany
Focus on the Global South India
Focus on the Global South Thailand
Focus on the Global South  Philippines
FDCL – Center for Research and Documentation Chile-Latin America, Germany
Fundacion Parque Nacional Pico Bonito – FUPNAPIB, Honduras
Foro Agrícola, Honduras
FOVIDA, Peru
Forum Solidaridad Perú
Friends of the Earth USA
Friends of the Earth France
Fundación Justicia y Desarrollo Local FUJUDEL, Rebulica Dominica
Fundación Semilla Andina, Colombia
Faso Enviprotek, Burkina Faso
FEC, Portugal
Freedom from Debt Coalition, Philippines
Fundación Fray Domingo de Vico lleva, Guatemala
Fastenopfer, switzerland
G
Gevalor, France
Gret-Professionnels du développement solidaire, France
Green Horizon, Cameroon
Greenpeace USA
Grassroots International, USA
GEFONT – Trade Union Federation, Nepal
Gitib, Philippines
Global-Environment-Protects-Cameroon (GEP)
H
Hecho en Bs As, Argentina
Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com, UK
HEKS – Hilfswerk der Evangelischen Kirchen Schweiz, Switzerland
Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, India
Human Rights Alliance Nepal
HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation, Switzerland
I
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), USA
Inades – Formation Côte d’Ivoire, Ivory Coast
Ingénieurs Sans Frontières – Agricultures et Souveraineté Alimentaire (ISF AgriSTA), France
Innovations for Developmental Empowerment & Accessible Services (IDEAS), PakistanInstituto Brasileiro de Análises Sociais e Econômicas, Brazil
INCUPO-Instituto de Cultura Popular, Argentina
Instituto de Desarrollo y Medio Ambiente –IDMA, Peru
Instituto de Investigación y Capacitación Campesina (IICCA), Bolivia
Instituto Bartolome de Las Casas,Peru
Indigenous Nationalities Women Youth Network (INWYN), Nepal
Iyolosiwa A.C., Mexico
Instituto Mayor Campesino (IMCA), Colombia
Instituto Latinoamericano para una Sociedad y un Derecho Alternativos (ILSA), Colombia
Iglesias por la paz, Mexico
Indeso Mujer, Argentina
Instituto de Desarrollo de la Economía Asociativa (IDEAC), Republica Dominica
Indian Social Action Forum, India
Institute for Essential Services and Resources, Indonesia
INKOTA-netzwerk, Germany
Institute of Science in Society, UK
IPDRS Instituto para el Desarrollo Rural de Sudamérica, Bolivia
J
Jinukun-Copagen, Bénin
JARC (Juventud Agraria Rural Católica), Peru
Jeunes Volontaires Pour l’Environnement (JVE) – Ivory Coast
Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE) – Niger
Jamaa Resource Initiatives, Kenya
Jatam Indonesia
Jagaran Nepal
Jana Vikas, Odisha, India
K
KAU – Anti Debt Coalition, Indonesia
Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya [KILUSAN], Philippines
Koordinierungsstelle der Österreichischen Bischofskonferenz für internationale Entwicklung und Mission (KOO), Austria
KIRDTI, India
Kirat Youth Society, Pakistan
Kirat Chamling Language Culture Development Association (KCLCDA), Pakistan
Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum
Kerala Independent Fishworkers Federation, India
KRUHA – Peoples Right to Water Coalition, Indonesia
L
Laboratoire de Recherche en Gestion et Economie des Industries Agroalimentaires (Largecia-Oniris Nantes), France
Labour,Health and Human Rights Development Centre, Nigeria
Living Farms, Odisha, India
M
Masipag, Philippines
Misereor, Germany
Mariann Co-ordinating Committee, South Africa
Metta Development Foundation, Myanmar
MELCA –  Ethiopia
Movimiento Indígena Campesino de La Paz – MILPAH, Honduras
Monde Volontaire au Développement, Togo
Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project, USA
Movimiento Ciudadano frente al Cambio Climático – MOCICC, Peru
Madretierra Permacultura, Colombia
mines, minerals and People (mmP), India
Monitoring Sustainability of Globalisation (MSN), Malaysia
MASIPAG Mindanao, Philippines
Millennium Institute, USA
N
National Women Peasants Association, Nepal
Neighbours Initiative Alliance, Kenya
Noor Development Society, Pakistan
North South Initiative, Malaysia
Network of Traditional Rulers of Cameroon on Conservation, Biodiversity & Ecosystem Preservation (ReCTRAD)
National Federation of Hawkers Bangladesh
National Movement of Patriotic Peasants, Philippines
National Federation of Women Hawkers, India
Nadi Gati Morcha, India
National Hawkers Federation, India
The Nubian Vault Association
O
The Oakland Institute, USA
Observatori DESC, Spain
Other Worlds, USA
Organic Consumers, USA
Our Rivers Our Life, Philippines
ORRISSA, Odisha, India
Odisha Paramparika Krushak Sangathana, India
P
Partners for the Land & Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples (PLANT), USA
Peoples Common Struggle Center, Pakistan
PROSALUS, Spain
PAPDA (Plateforme haïtienne de Plaidoyer pour un Développement Alternatif), Haiti
Plate-Forme pour le Commerce Equitable, France
People Unity Youth Society (PUYS), Nepal
Pusbinlat Motivator GT, Indonesia
PELUM-Kenya
Paghida-et sa Kauswagan Development Group (PDG), Philippines
Pastoralist Community Initiative and Development Assistance, Kenya
Pastoral Social Diocesana de Benjamin Aceval Chaco, Paraguay
Peuples Solidaires-ActionAid France
Plataforma de Agricultura Sostenible El Salvador – PASES, El Salvador
Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum
Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee (Farmers)
Philippine Movement for Climate Justice
R
Red de Acción en Plaguicidas y Alternativas en México (RAPAM), Mexico
Roshni Tariqiyati Tanzeem, Pakistan
Rencontre des Continents, Belgium
Réseau  FAIRNESS, France
Réseau Action Climat – France
Réseau Médias et Développement, Cameroon
REALIMENTAR – Civil Society Network for Food Security and Food Sovereignty, Portugal
RJE (Réseau des Jeunes pour l’Environnement), Togo
Right to Food Network Nepal (RtFN), Nepal
River Basin Friends, India
Rural Reconstruction Nepal
RCDC, Odisha, India
Rights & Rights Social Society, Pakistan
Réseau Foi et Justice Afrique Europe – Antenne de France
S
SÜDWIND, Austria
Secours Catholique – Caritas France, France
Slow Food USA
Sociedad Cooperativa Marku Anchekoren, Mexico
Sibol Ng Agham At Teknolohiya (SIBAT) –  Wellspring of Science and Technology, Philippines
SOS FAIM, Belgium
Servicio Ecuménico de Promoción Alternativa – SEPA, Paraguay
Schools and Colleges Permaculture Programme SCOPE, Kenya
Send a Cow, UK
School of Acting justly, Loving tenderly and Treading Humbly (SALT Movement), Malaysia
SWISSAID, Switzerland
SUPRO, Bangladesh
SOLIDARITÉ from France
Solidaritas Perempuan, Indonesia
Sawit Watch, Indonesia
Sanlakas, Philippines
Save Our Seeds, Germany
SPERI, Vietnam
T
Tanzania Organization for Agricultural Development (TOfAD), Tanzania
Tanzania Alliance for Biodiversity, Tanzania
Terra Nuova, Italy
Todo en Comunidad AC, Mexico
Trashumancia y Naturaleza, Spain
Thai Climate Justice Working Group (TCJ), Thailand
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
U
Ugeafi qui oeuvre au sud-Kivu, DR Congo
UK Food Group
USC Canada
Utooni Development Organization, Kenya
Unnayan Onneshan, Bangladesh
Universidad Popular Del Buen Vivir, Ecuador
V
Vía Orgánica, Mexico
Verein zur Erhaltung der Nutzpflanzenvielfalt (VEN), Germany
VICARIA DEL SUR – Diócesis de Florencia, Colombia
Vogelschutz-komitee  e.V. Bird Protection Committee, Germany
VOICE, Bangladesh
W
Welthaus Graz, Austria
War on Want, UK
WhyHunger, USA
World Family, UK
WALHI – Friends of the Earth Indonesia
Y
Youth Peasants Association, Nepal
Youth Awareness Society Nepal (YASN), Nepal
Z
Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft (Foundation on Future Farming)