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SFFF organizes event at World Bank fall meeting

As a member of the Stop Funding Factory Farming campaign (SFFF), Sinergia Animal co-organized a panel at the World Bank annual meeting to discuss the promotion of resilience and equity in food systems, globally. The panel, held on October 11th, in Marrakech, Morocco, was moderated by Ruth Segal (CAFOD) with support from Merel van der Mark (Sinergia Animal), and counted with three specialists: Farida Akhter (UBINIG), Prof. Charles Ssekyewa (Centre for Ecosystems Research and Development Uganda Uganda) and Martien van Nieuwkoop (World Bank).

The goal of the panel was to generate discussion on the World Bank’s current approach to supporting agricultural development in the global south; to assess the impacts of its approach in addressing poverty, food insecurity, climate resilience and fragility in the global food system and to highlight where improvements can be made to the World Bank's approach, with a focus on smallholder livelihoods and gender justice in the global food system.

Farida Akhter, from Bangladesh, is one of the founders, and the executive director, of UBINIG (the Bangla acronym of Policy Research for Development Alternative). UBINIG has set up one of the biggest community seed banks in the world. Farida stressed that the world is facing a global food crisis. She spoke about the multiple benefits of using agroecological practices, about the vital role of seed banks, or “community seed wealth centres”, and denounced the World Bank’s support for industrial agriculture, which has a multitude of negative impacts.

Charles Ssekyewa is the Director of the Centre for Ecosystems Research and Development, CERD-UGANDA. He presented the huge impacts of factory farming, and highlighted how the industrial livestock industry is not aligned with a number of national and international standards and regulations. Among others, he called for the broad endorsement and popularization of the UNEA Resolution on Animal Welfare, Environment and Sustainability Nexus, and advocated for stronger policies to prevent the World Bank from financing industrial livestock systems. His presentation can be found here.

Martien van Nieuwkoop is the World Bank Global Director for Agriculture and Food Global Practice. He provided insights in the Bank’s strategy with regard to agriculture, livestock and food production, and expressed concerns with food waste, and high prices for fertilizers. He also expressed concerns over the fact that agro-ecological farmers are not properly compensated for the ecosystemic services they provide. If they were, they might be able to compete better with industrial scale agriculture. More blended finance is needed, he argued, but unfortunately, overseas development aid budgets have been flat. In its efforts to contribute to a better food system, the world bank supports the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers' (CGIAR) gene banks. From the audience, there was a question about the different visions about how to achieve sustainable and resilient food systems, with the World Bank focusing more on technology, and the vision represented by Farida, more on social fabric and traditional knowledge. There was also a question challenging the agreement signed the day before between the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and fertilized company OCP Group, who jointly launched a $800m Agri-Finance Platform to Build Sustainable Food Systems in Africa. “Considering that OCP has access to other financial resources (its 94% owned by Kingdom of Morocco, and 6% by a Moroccan bank), is this partnership actually contributing to sustainable food security and resilience, and is this really the best way for a lending arm of a public development bank to be advancing food security?"The question was not answered.

The panel was part of the Civil Society Policy Forum (CSPF) and was organized by CAFOD, Stop Financing Factory Farming Coalition, World Animal Protection, Friends of the Earth US, Sinergia Animal, CERD-Uganda, Bank Information Center, Global Forest Coalition, Compassion in World Farming, Recourse, CEE Bankwatch Network, Bretton Woods Project, IBON International.


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