Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 17 July 2013
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade
Recommendations from AWEPA Conference
The next item on the agenda is a report from Deputy O'Sullivan on the AWEPA conference, so I will call on the Deputy to address the committee. I hope you do not mind if we do not have any discussion on this, because I want to move on.
No. First I would like to thank the Chairman for allowing this to be read into the record at this committee. I would like to list the recommendations that came from the conference. The first recommendation is for African governments and parliaments to ensure the protection of land rights and address the negative effects of large investments in land by foreign investors. The second recommendation is for MPs to work with NGOs, the private sector, local communities and researchers to establish the facts about large investments in agriculture and land grabs, to review legislative frameworks and to monitor the implications of FDI on agriculture. The third recommendation is that African MPs should design policies to protect small farmers and pastoral communities at the national and regional levels, and to facilitate space for dialogue between communities to prevent conflict and adapt to climate change. The fourth recommendation is that African MPs should create incentives to trigger investments in sustainable agriculture, respecting customary land-holdings and ensuring the right of women to the land to make livelihood viable. The fifth recommendation is that African political actors should create consensus on a common regional negotiation position to discuss trade agreements with regional blocs such as the European Union, instead of negotiating on a national basis, because Europe must not exert unfair pressure on African countries regarding trade agreements. The sixth recommendation is that European and African MPs and MEPs should work to ensure EU bio-fuels policy is not based on the acquisition of large pieces of land. They should seek alternatives to bio-fuels and limit the use of land for bio-fuels to 5%, to be phased out thereafter. They should also note the FAO voluntary guidelines on land tenure. The seventh recommendation is in line with the legal obligation in the Lisbon treaty for European MPs and MEPs to reinforce policy coherence of the EU and European countries in their external policies towards Africa. MPs and MEPs should ensure appropriate processes are in place to identify instances of incoherence and analyse all legislation for its potentially negative impact on development priorities.
The eighth recommendation is that development donors should support awareness-raising and identifying of best practices among African and European parliamentarians to tackle crucial problems in land insecurity, water scarcity, chronic hunger and gender inequality, especially when accessing land-holding opportunities. They should take initiatives to ensure equal access to nutrition within households. The ninth recommendation is for European countries, governments and parliaments to ensure that transparency and enforcement are applied to companies that remain involved in illegal exploitation and land grabbing, including investigating and bringing to justice the European companies identified by the UN Panel of Experts on Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources as being involved in illegal practices, and to put into place adequate mechanisms to ensure the full implementation of the EU timber regulation, which entered into force in March 2013 and which still lacks implementation in the majority of the EU States. The tenth recommendation is for African governments to meet the Maputo Declaration commitment to allocate and spend 10% of national budgets on investments in the agriculture sector, to ensure adequate resources are available to fight poverty and food insecurity. The 11th recommendation is for European MPs and MEPs, as influential leaders in resource-importing states, to support their African peers in their actions to strengthen their oversight capacity. The 12th and final recommendation is for all European and African countries to consider establishing joint monitoring teams for their future relationships and mutual development. I will have a copy of these recommendations for everybody shortly.
I thank Deputy O'Sullivan for doing a great job in presenting those recommendations to us. I would like to get a handle of the status of these recommendations. Do we transfer them over to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and ask them to look at them? Or will it become policy of this committee? The 12th recommendation is a suggestion that we monitor the development programmes with African parliamentarians. How is this envisaged to take place? I understand that Tanzania has been chosen as a country to be monitored by AWEPA. I would like a bit of clarification on that.
The only reason we put this on the agenda was to note the recommendations coming from the conference. We are not going to discuss them this evening, because there will be time another day for it, but I am sure Deputy O'Sullivan will be pleased to answer any questions for you privately afterwards. AWEPA is separate from us, but Deputy O'Sullivan included it on the agenda here.