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6 de octubre | | | |

“Without forest peoples, much of the world would be hungry”

Interview with Shalmali Guttal at the negotiations on forests and community rights

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Social movements are working, negotiating and insisting before state representatives and multilateral organizations present at the Committee on World Food Security in order to obtain a text that strongly supports forests and communities that coexist with them.

It is necessary to highlight the role of forests on food sovereignty and security, in addition to their role to combat hunger, leaving aside a mere utilitarian or extractive view of forests, said Shalmali Guttal in an interview with Real World Radio during the negotiations. Guttal is member of the organization Focus on the Global South.

“The civil society and social movements are interested in getting strong recommendations, a strong supporting text (…) which recognizes the different varieties and types of forests, for indigenous people, forest workers, traditional peoples, hunters, gatherers, pastoralists and other types of small-scale food producers who are part of the Civil Society Mechanism constituencies”, said the Indian activist.

Shalmali stated that these groups coexist with forests, preserve animal and plant species, and improve them, not from a utilitarian or extractivist point of view. “It is not about putting forests on the market, but respecting what Mother Nature gives us”, she added.
This is why civil society representatives are demanding official delegates to include aspects linked to the spirituality and culture of forest peoples and communities on the text.

“We want to see strong language against tree plantations and monocultures”, said Guttal during the interview. “Every day we see how people in forest communities and indigenous people or local farmers, peasants, pastoralists, fishers are persecuted. We want to see this kind of language”, she added.

“We have different types of forests. (…) There are mangroves, there are coastal forests, there are woods, there are even forest deserts. People who live in and around forests not only nurture their environments, but they are also able to produce food. (…) Without these forest peoples, without these communities, much of the world would be hungry”, stated Shalmali Guttal in another part of the interview with Real World Radio.

“This diversity, in the long term, will protect us, it will keep us from hunger. The industrial food system is collapsed, it is collapsing us”, she added.

“A question of packaging”

About the influence of organizations represented under the Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) in the negotiations on forests or other aspects linked to food and agriculture, the Indian activist said that this is a question of “packaging”.

When proposals related to the role of women are packaged with the concept of gender justice, for instance, they are rejected for being considered “too political”. But when the language used refers to “equality”, then countries are willing to accept it. “It is a question of packaging for the so-called experts, who are really not experts, they are monoculture intellectuals, they are like tree plantations themselves”, concluded Shalmali Guttal.

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