Today, different farmers’ organizations of the European Coordination of La Via Campesina (ECVC) from the EU and Central Asia took part in a public debate on access to land at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in Brussels.
They highlighted that land in Europe is concentrated in ever fewer hands: the top 3% of farms control half of the total amount of arable land, while 80% of farm - below 10 ha – control just 12%. This is matched by the unequal distribution of CAP subsidies that are supporting big farmers based on an agro industrial model. Every 25 minutes a farm in Europe closes down.
People’s struggles against the privatization and dispossession of natural resources, land and water grabbing are converging across the global north and south.
As the first international instrument to apply human rights based approach to the governance of tenure, fisheries and forests, the TGs are a vital tool to empower local communities and provide practical guidance to governments to stop these processes. Javier Sanchez (ECVC) argued: “To ensure that states live up to their human rights obligations, what is needed now is a legal tool at EU level for implementing the TGs”.
To build momentum for the development of such a tool, DG AGRI, members of the EU parliament and the FAO representatives who attended the debate, encouraged a bottom up approach where the role of civil society organisations is to put pressure at the EU and national level.
This should include the viewpoint of the central Asia small food producer’s organisations who are also affected by large scale corporate driven resource grabbing. As Mariam Jorjadze (Elkana) from Georgia explained: “during the transition from the soviet economy to the free trade market in Caucuses and central Asia land became fragmented. Farmers were unprepared for the wave of big investments and were forced by poverty to sell their lands. Land should be a human right not a commodity”.
Human rights based approach to the land, food and climate nexus is at the centre of the new campaign Hands on the Land for Food Sovereignty that involve 16 allies, among which ECVC, TNI , FIAN, Terra Nuova, Crocevia. Among the key demands is for the EU to implement policies around climate and natural resources that protect and support the most vulnerable groups and the resources we all depend on.