Tuesday, March 21, 2023
name of Prensa Latina
Bandera inglesa
English Edition
name of Prensa Latina



Nothing new in Davos


Nothing new in Davos

By: Sergio Ferrari*
Brussels, (Prensa Latina) Another Davos Economic Forum has just taken place with pure rhetoric and a lot of media show, but without concrete proposals to solve the disorder of the current world system, where several crises are intertwined in one.

“Cooperation in a fragmented world” -the motto of the Forum held in the second half of January- remained only as an advertising slogan since it prefers not to confront the root causes of the crisis because it does not seem willing to rectify this planetary labyrinth with no way out in this current context, for the whole of humanity.

The clock of international economic power now marks a new appointment: from October 9 to 15 this year in Marrakech, Morocco, where many of those who attended Davos will again attend the Annual Meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The signals of the invitation to Marrakech on the part of these two multilateral bodies anticipate continuity and no change.

The first alternative voices begin to raise the tone. The Committee for the Cancellation of Illegitimate Debts (Cadtm) announced that it will summon, along with other organizations, such as ATTAC Morocco, a World Counter-Summit of Social Movements for that same date.

Cadtm points out that the IMF signed credit agreements with a hundred governments in the last three years, and that in each one it demanded the continuation of neoliberal policies. At the same time, it denounced that a new debt crisis is developing. “It is time to react,” said the Brussels-based committee, after defining the current situation as a “multifaceted crisis” that affects the world since 2020.


A computerized tomography scan of the present global reality shows that one third of the total energy demand is tied to food production. Therefore, any increase in the price of energy has a direct impact on the price of food. This relationship is particularly obvious when it comes to fossil fuels -oil, coal, natural gas- used in large quantities in crops, food processing, packaging, transportation and retail.

This diagnosis is part of the findings reached by the international NGO Grain, which has been working for 33 years at the service of rural social movements in their struggles for food systems based on biodiversity and community control.

According to a Grain publication from November last year, the relationship between food and energy has a greater impact on highly mechanized production, predominant in Europe, North America and some regions of Latin America. In these territories, the amount of energy needed to produce, for example, a ton of cereal, is almost 2.5 times greater than in small farms in the countries of the South. In real terms, the industrialized food system of the US consumes energy equivalent to the total energy expenditure of India or of all African nations combined.

In this global X-ray, another interesting fact stands out: organic agriculture is much more efficient (at the level of energy use) than industrial agriculture. In January 2021, the International Journal of Agriculture Technology published a report on rice production in the Philippines. In this particular case, organic agriculture was 63 percent more efficient, in terms of energy use, and with similar yields.

The European food system is equally dependent on fossil fuels. Hence, the significant impact of the Ukraine conflict both on energy supply and on the corresponding increase in the price of foodstuffs, since a quarter of all energy consumed on the continent goes to that sector.

A no less central subsidiary problem at this point: to compensate for the significant reduction in energy that it usually imported from Russia, Europe is sourcing it from Asian countries. For example, it buys coal from Indonesia and gas from Malaysia, which results in increased costs for local communities in those supplying nations. Likewise, communities in Pakistan and Bangladesh are suffering gas cuts because much of their production is diverted to Europe.

Also known is the direct impact armed conflicts (military crises) have on the increase of the degradation of social conditions. According to the NGO Action Against Hunger, 60 percent of people suffering from this scourge live in countries at war.

This whole situation aggravates the environmental crisis in a planet that is heading for an increase in its temperature of 2.5 degrees Celsius by the year 2100. Increased fossil fuel production will further accelerate the climate crisis, which, in turn, will put further pressure on global food production. Excessive warming is already wreaking havoc on food production due to droughts, floods, storms and very high temperatures that make rural work in the open field unbearable at certain times of the year.

Grain concludes that the energy and food crises cannot be solved with measures that worsen the climate crisis. “These three crises are strongly connected and they overlap each other”. To find a solution to this “polycrisis”, Grain says, requires a deep transformation of the way energy and food are being produced and distributed, with actions that question directly the control of large transnational companies, the principal stakeholders of this “planetary disaster”.

At the argument level, the NGO recalls former US Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich´s tweet last November: “A message to the media; please do not report that inflation reached a 40-year high without also mentioning that corporate profits reached a 70-year high. You have to show the whole picture”.

Voracious, as always

The large transnational companies are taking advantage of the crisis, increasing the prices of their products disproportionately, causing and benefiting from inflationary increases and obtaining stratospheric profits, says Grain.

In the United States, for example, experts point out that, while corporate profits explain an 11 percent price increase from 1979 to 2019, they can in no way justify the current excessive increase of 53.9 percent. Particularly, in the food sector, including supermarket chains and restaurants. In Canada, the government launched an official investigation into the profits explosion, while in Europe and Australia several businessmen, as well as numerous media outlets, acknowledge that the recent price hike is unjustified.

In its report “The law of the richest”, which Oxfam International published in mid-January, simultaneously with the opening of the Davos Forum, that organization coincides with Grain´s global description of a discouraging world scenario and it concludes that “the world is going through an unprecedented era, marked by the accumulation of multiple crises”. And, it highlights its analysis in the problem of hunger.

Taxing the fortunes and redistributing income

Oxfam argues that hundreds of millions face unsustainable increases in the cost of basic products or the energy necessary to heat their homes. Climate collapse is paralyzing the economy in some regions and extreme meteorological phenomena are forcing many people around the world to abandon their homes. It also reminds us that there are millions of human beings that continue suffering from the corollaries of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has already caused more than 20 million deaths. Poverty has grown for the first time in 25 years, according to this international NGO, while the ultra-rich watch their wealth grow drastically and business benefits reach record levels, all of which pushes social inequality even higher.

The numbers speak for themselves. Since the year 2020, the one percent richest people have accumulated around two-thirds of the world´s new wealth: almost double what is distributed among the other 99 percent.

Each day, the fortunes of the millionaires grow 2.7 billion dollars, while the salaries of about 1.7 billion workers grows defectively, even below the inflation level.

In 2022, the energy and food companies easily doubled their benefits and distributed 257 billion dollars in dividends to their shareholders, while more than 800 million people suffered hunger.

Oxfam states that, for every dollar collected in taxes at the global level, only four cents come from taxes from the wealthy. On the other hand, half of the world´s millionaires live in countries where no taxes are applied to the wealth their heirs inherit.

That´s why it proposes a wealth tax of up to five percent for billionaires and multi-billionaires. This would raise annually one trillion 700 billion dollars, an amount that would ensure that two billion people abandon their poverty situation, in addition to financing a global plan to end hunger.

Grain, which agrees with the proposal to tax large fortunes, insists on the need to prioritize energy conservation. Likewise, continue to stimulate the reduction of food waste, which currently causes eight percent of global climate emissions. And also decrease consumption where ever it makes sense (meat, dairy, ultra-processed foods) and invest more in community-based food models.

It also proposes shutting down the fossil fuel industry and winning over public support to promote collective and local food systems. “This means supporting small-scale producers and local markets, while dismantling the power and profits of the corporate food chain”.

*Argentinean journalist based in Switzerland.


name of Prensa Latina

| Text SMS to 8100 with content PL
Receive 4 mesages x 25 cup

© 2016-2021 Prensa Latina
Latin American News Agency

Radio – Publications  – Videos – News by the minute.
All Rigts Reserved.

St. E No 454 , Vedado,  Habana, Cuba.
Phones: (+53) 7 838 3496, (+53) 7 838 3497, (+53) 7 838 3498, (+53) 7 838 3499
Prensa Latina © 2021 .

Web Site developed by IT Division  Prensa Latina.