Peasants’ rights: Reflections on COP27

Another UN Climate COP has come and gone – the 27th to be precise – and the so-called “negotiators” of the global climate crisis again proved themselves utterly unwilling or unable to limit the reign of fossil fuel capitalists, corporate agribusiness or their friends in high finance. For La Via Campesina, the global peasant movement rooted in territorial struggles for Peasants’ Rights and Food Sovereignty worldwide, COP27 was another troubling reminder of how truly limited the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has become – with little more than fanfare for the critical issues of adaptation, mitigation and still-empty “loss and damage fund”. At the same time, this year’s COP was a renewed opportunity for those most affected by today’s crises (rural women and youth, indigenous peoples, landless peasants, migrant farmworkers and others on the frontlines of climate chaos) to converge in struggle with our sister alliances in the larger Climate Justice Movement and call out corporate agribusiness for its use and abuse of a crisis they very much created. Enough is enough! No More Corporate False Solutions at the UNFCCC! Food Sovereignty for Climate Justice Now!

Held in the artificial enclave of Sharm el-Sheikh under the watchful eye of Egyptian State Security, this year’s COP felt more restrictive than ever. There was no People’s Summit; little interpretation of non-colonial languages; limited conference acess for accredited organizations; and scant opportunity for people’s movements to actually influence negotiations. Egyptian civil society was especially restricted, to say the least and “pre-authorized” protests – whilst full of the diverse beauty and power found in the Climate Justice Movement we are part of – were strictly contained within the official venue with little access to media coverage. Combined, this all amounts to a stifling of opposition within an increasingly raw deal for people and the planet. What should be a binding climate treaty based on the needs of people and the planet increasingly resembles nothing more than a novel free-trade agreement. Just ask the people of Pakistan, inundated by the worst floods in recorded history and indebted to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), whose official representatives at COP27 led the Group of 77 in its failed attempt to include the most basic of debt relief within the larger Loss and Damage Fund. Instead, International Financial Institutions (IFIs) including the IMF and World Bank plan to use the still empty Fund to advance their corrupted and neoliberal schemes. Companies are already profiting from carbon offsets, greenwashed by the net zero paradigm. Elements of nature – soils, forests, oceans, mangroves – are becoming the new ‘service providers’ while peasants, farmers, fisherfolk and other food producers are seen as simple tools to be used by the owners of digital technologies which promise to draw down profane emissions already emitted through industrial exploitation and over-consumption by the wealthy few. So-called Nature Based Solutions, Climate Smart Agriculture, Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), geoengineering, carbon offsets and others were familiar false solutions on display at COP27, their scientific basis rarely questioned. The Corporate Capture of the UNFCCC Must End! People’s Solutions are Real Solutions!

The gap between perspectives, resources and proposals for action between those at the top and those of us fighting for life was unprecedented. La Via Campesina at COP27 reaffirmed our role as providers of healthy, nutritious and culturally appropriate foods, as loving caretakers of land, waters and territores, and as integral members of vibrant rural communities. Our youth- and women-led delegation brought in grassroots peasant and Indigenous leadership from Germany, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy in so-called Canada, Nicaragua, Niger, Palestine, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Tunisia, Wales and Zimbabwe. Despite the repressive context, we stood in firm solidarity with people’s movements everywhere fighting the expansion of fossil fuels and mining, defended lands, waters and territories from enclosure and privatization, deepened our commitments with all who struggle against occupation, and raised our voice with and for all Egyptian prisoners of conscience: “Free Alaa (Abdel Fattah), free them all” is how we ended closed the indigenous- and frontline community-led People’s Plenary of COP27. Together with allies from around the world, we engaged in vibrant dialogue and militant action through organized protests, inside events, Farmers’ Constituency meetings, exhibits and communications that highlighted the struggles and solutions of those from below. Alongside friends and allies, we reiterated the role of popular solutions in the protection of life, dignity and biodiversity on this precious planet of ours. The Time for Peasants’ Rights, Agroecology and Food Sovereignty is Now!

If one thing was clear as COP27 came to a close it’s that we must prepare ourselves, our people and our popular movements for the crisis that is now – the UNFCCC will not save us, nor will the national and local governments controlled by corporate interests. We must continue to demand an inmediate transition away from fossil fuel capitalism in all of its forms, especially but not limited to its manifestations across our lands, waters and territories. We must also continue to consolidate our peasant and popular solutions to the climate crisis, converging within the larger Climate Justice Movement in articulating and advancing them on all levels. Last but not least, we can and should achieve democratically-defined and publically-funded policies that prioritize the health and well-being of all beings – including Mother Earth herself – before, during and after each catasrophy to come. We are grateful for everything that was shared with us by our allies and by the people of Sharm el Sheikh whose kindness and hospitality sustained us. We are today more committed than ever to our common struggle: building Food Sovereignty for Climate Justice through grassroots organization, education and mobilization on behalf of humanity and Mother Earth. Together, in Struggle, We Will Win!

Food Sovereignty Cools the Planet!

Peasants’ Rights and Agroecology for a Climate Just Transition!

Globalize the Struggle! Globalize Hope!

Read also: “La Via Campesina Call to Action for the 27th UN Climate COP”

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