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This afternoon activists from all over the world have hung a banner, banged on teacups and handed out messages by Via Campesina during the official celebrations of Biodiversity Day at the 9th Conference of Parties (COP-9) of the UN convention on Biodiversity. They did so at the end of a message by UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon read by the Programme Officer of the Secretariat of the CBD to the distinguished delegates of the Convention.

The banners read “No Agrodiversity Without Farmers” and “Nature for People, Not for business.” The written message was brought to the attention of the delegates by farmers’ group Via Campesina, who were refused to be part of the celebration ceremony just before biodiversity day.

According to Via Campesina as well as many other present at the convention small famers are the key to both the solution to world hunger and the safeguarding of the world’s biodiversity.

Via Campesina also warns against corporate interests advocating for a new Green Revolution in Africa as a strategy to increase productivity. Although they use concepts such as “sustainability”, “participation”, and “biodiversity management”, the production model is the same as that which has created the present crisis and growing loss of biodiversity

Small farmers, though, have the ability to feed the world. Peasant agriculture promotes food diversity, sustains traditional cultures and does not burden the environment. Moreover, small-scale, local and ecological production is an effective and immediate way of reducing carbon emissions and cooling down the planet.

After a few minutes the banners were taken away by UN police officers and officials and the people holding them were escorted out of the Maritim Hotel, and lost their accreditation badges, which are required to participate in the meetings.  

Members of Via Campesina were given a round of applause from the delegates when they chanted “nature for people, not for business”.

Prior to the banner hanging action, members of Via Campesina and their supporters disrupted an industry lunch where agro-industrialists were congratulating each other for their excellent work at monopolizing the seed supply and destroying agricultural biodiversity.  CBD Executive Secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf, who has been criticized for his pro-industry actions, presented at the side event following the lunch.

Top Right: Via Campesina activists hang a banner at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Bonn, Germany during an official celebration of “Biodiversity Day.”  Photo: Langelle/ GJEP-GFC