It is important to know that the FSS was first initiated by major economic powers working globally on food systems gathered officially in the World Economic Forum. In this context, the UN Secretary-General appointed Dr. Agnes Kalibata, president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), as his Special Envoy for the FSS.
The initiative, particularly since the appointment of the AGRA President, has been receiving criticism from various movements and organisations that we consider like-minded as they advocate for a similar paradigm change in food systems as the organic movement does. The appointment itself has been challenged by hundreds of organisations via a letter sent to the UN Secretary, objecting to the event's leadership under an organisation promoting industrial commercial agriculture.
La Via Campesina published their position on FSS titled ’A Summit Under Siege’ last December. They remain outside the process claiming it to be non-inclusive and led by global financial elites. The Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples' Mechanism for relations with the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) have also sent a letter to the CFS Chair with similar messages.
IPES-Food stepped down from roles held within the UN Food Systems Summit process. With this action, IPES-Food warns that the Summit is being used to advance a new mode of decision-making that could exclude many voices in food systems. See the withdrawal statement here. For further information, take a look at the IPES-Food Briefing note and the open letter by independent scientists!
Peasant, indigenous-led organisations and civil society groups organised a counter-summit around the Pre-Summit in July in order to have their voices heard. The goal was not only to challenge the FSS, but also to promote food sovereignty and the radical transformation of corporate food systems, defend the CFS, including its High-Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) and uphold the human rights mandate of the UN. More information about the counter-summit here
We ourselves find the process tedious and overwhelming, particularly for smaller organisations with limited resources, thereby creating inequalities. Also, there was no clarity at the beginning on how the inputs from the different elements of the process (e.g. Action Tracks and Dialogues) come together. The process still gives us the impression that the planning follows a step-by-step approach, which makes it difficult for many of us to prioritise.
Watch the statement of La Via Campesina North America on UNFSS