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Published on 22/06/2015

From Bonn and After The G7: Rome Is Promoting The GACSA

The French G7 came to an end on 8 July with promises made on food security and agriculture (lift 500 million people out of a permanent state of hunger by 2030). In the appendix to its declaration it points out the negative effects of climate change on food and nutrition security, commits to promoting best practices for climate change adaptation and “takes note of the new initiatives such as the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture (GACSA).”

As a reminder, several international NGOs (including GRET) have been rallying against this alliance for over a year. Laurent Levard, an agriculture and farming specialist with GRET, had this to say last September at a FAO symposium on agroecology: “While agroecology is developing, the concept of ‘climate smart agriculture’ and the alliance that bears its name represent a real danger because the definition is such a general one that just about anyone and everyone will be able to take their inspiration from it, especially those who have the most means to make themselves heard, i.e. the agribusiness multinationals. They will thus find the opportunity to get everyone to accept the technologies (through “greenwashing”) that make up their stock in trade (GMOs, chemical fertilisers and pesticides, etc.), whereas it is exactly these that constitute a dead end. The urgency of climate change must not in any case open the door to bogus climate solutions that would threaten the fundamental rights of agricultural and rural communities and the food and nutrition security of the poorest. The GACSA could be a backfire to developing agroecology, in favour of the economic interests of certain multinationals. The NGOs would like France to undertake to support sustainable solutions such as agroecology, in compliance with its political commitments in favour of family farming.

In spite of these alarm bells, the day after the G7, during the climate recesses in Bonn on 9 June, the international “hunger-fighting” institutions in Rome (FAO, IFAD, WFP) were organising a side event entitled ‘Climate-Smart Agriculture Advantage: Better Returns for Smallholder Farmers’, speaking out for the small-scale producers and singing the praises of climate-smart agriculture… Making no mention of the eponymous alliance, those who were there to speak presented agricultural field projects, touting the merits of local traditional practices and the results the projects are having on productivity, and calling on the states to take CSA into account in their policies so as to guarantee their success. Despite these issues, the concept of CSA was not defined. When asked “What is the difference with traditional agriculture projects, since all agriculture projects take into account local practices?”, the FAO replied that there is no difference, but that for political reasons a concept had to be drawn up so as to raise the awareness of the decision-makers for their involvement in international negotiations.
A successful communicating operation in support of small-scale producers, very far from the realities on the ground and the political stakes.