Day 4 in Rome
The official FAO meeting began on the 16th of November with the Pope followed by Libya’s Gaddafi, an interesting pairing! The Kings and Presidents (but not Obama) had the roads of Rome closed off for them, getting near the FAO was a big challenge so I waited until things calmed down later in the day, to be honest, the rooms for NGOs had problems of communication all their own, the translations didn’t come through the earphones provided, and other rooms for NGOs had no sound, so things were a little disorganized, perhaps today will be better. Heading off this morning first to the FAO and then to the Civil Society Forum. The FAO statement has already been issued, even without finishing the meeting yet! It is pretty bland, not much on climate change, speculation, inclusion of small farmers in the decision-making, biotechnology cloaked under the words of “new technology” at least they could be honest and say what they mean.
I went back to the working group on resources in agriculture where I spoke about water, the focus was on water and solutions such as recognizing the right to water, working against privatization, bottled water, exporting virtual water in crops like cut flowers….all things familiar to Food & Water Watch. I attended a workshop on climate change given by Alexandra Spieldoch, a Bangladeshi and a woman from Indonesia….it was very good linking agriculture and climate change, challenging the high tech approaches being suggested and the cap and trade regimes (market based solutions) which will lead to more hunger and more problems. Agro-ecology and sustainable agriculture are seen as more climate friendly.
Last night, I had dinner with Olivier De Schutter and his team. He and David Habarro will speak at the civil society forum today so I’ll visit again. He is coming for ten days in June to American University and so we plan to get together again. He is now preparing a paper on concentration and the right to food, ready in about two weeks, so asked for any studies I might have, so I’m sending along some Bill Heffernan writings which he hasn’t seen. We visited for about two hours with conversations ranging from reserves and the right to food to climate change and as I said, concentration issues.
I’m doing lots of networking, saw Geoff Tansey, who had just visited us in DC at FWW, was on the panel with Renee Vellve of GRAIN who has done important work on land grabs, two fellas from the Share the World’s Resources, from Britain, working on supply management and reserves: Adam Parsons and Robin Willoughby, the Agribusiness Action Initiative is meeting in the same hotel so we visit a lot, Doreen Stabinsky and Marco from Greenpeace, a Ugandan women who knows FWW friend Seremos, Margaret Nakato works with fisher women in Uganda. That’s just the beginning, there have been too many to name, of course I’ve seen many from Via Campesina including Henry Saraghit from Indonesia and Fausto from Nicaragua. A very busy time and a very busy day planned today at the Civil Society Forum and the FAO. So, more tomorrow!