Ten years after the World Forum on Agrarian Reform WFAR (Valencia, 2004), followed by the International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development ICCARD (Porto Alegre, 2006), and now in the International Year of Family Farming we, the signatories of this call, emphasize the need to gather different social actors and institutions in an open debate to further the discussion and improve poor farmers’ access to land, water and natural resources.
The current situation - persistence of hunger, population growth, exclusion, massive unemployment, environmental crisis and loss of food sovereignty - as well as the persistence of acquisitions, leases and land concessions, invite us all to revisit the issue of access to land and productive resources. Though shareholders of large-scale projects often obtain a return on investment, their overall economic efficiency - and, in particular, the interests of concerned populations and their generations to follow - are far from guaranteed.
Will the choice to promote agricultural companies based on the production of a small number of commodities, the heavy use of synthetic inputs and fossil fuels, and the employment of salaried workers result in a significant increase in production and wealth?
Will it create jobs and income for hundreds of millions of those active today by way of exclusion? And likewise for as much or more who are expected to enter the labor market?
Will the agricultural revolution to come, capable of both feeding 9 billion people
and giving work to the greatest number while eradicating hunger, be based, as in the past, on a massive replacement of labour by capital? How to ensure that the principles enunciated in the context of “the voluntary guidelines” will be actually translated into action respecting the rights of rural populations and promoting sustainable development?
Finally, the issue of rights and “commons” on the agenda of international discussions seems, in our opinion, in need of attention again. The massive monopolizing of the planet’s resources, beyond the diversity of its forms, reflects their ever-expanding commodification in the name of growth and worldwide welfare. But this leads to ignorance of the historical, social, ecological, cultural and political dimensions of the current dynamics, and minimization of their impacts. In this context, it seems necessary to re-engage
on the issue of human rights. Specifically, people’s rights of equitable access to land, water and natural resources, and to implement production systems according to their ecological, economical, cultural and technical choices, in coherence with the common interest.
We call on civil society organisations and governmental institutions to mobilise and launch a global forum on access to land and natural resources. It is essential to debate the analyses and proposals related to current developments and their consequential, major problems. We call for the creation of such a forum in order to identify and implement the most effective solutions.
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