Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Xuyen Pham’s Garden
East New Orleans, La.
From the Lexicon of Sustainability

 This month, more than 100 growers, co-operative workers, researchers, campaigners and activists met near London to begin the process of building a food sovereignty movement in the UK. [For a detailed account by Amy Horton see the World Development Movement site]
A group called Via Campesino, founded in 1993, first coined the concept of "food sovereignty" ( from the Spanish soberiana alimentaria) which they presented to the World Food Conference in 1996. The concept has evolved and grown and was defined in 2002 as follows:

“Food sovereignty is the right of peoples, communities, and countries to define their own agricultural, labour, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances. It includes the true right to food and to produce food, which means that all people have the right to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food and to food-producing resources and the ability to sustain themselves and their societies. Food sovereignty means the primacy of people’s and community’s rights to food and food production, over trade concerns.”

Via Campesina (from Spanish la vía campesina, the campesino way, or the Peasants' Way) describes itself as "an international movement which coordinates peasant organizations of small and middle-scale producers, agricultural workers, rural women, and indigenous communities.' Organised into nine regions,Via Campesina is a coalition of over 148 organizations in 69 countries, representing 150 million people globally, advocating family-farm-based sustainable agriculture.

In 2007 more than 500 representatives of farmers’ networks, unions, social movements and other civil society groups from more than 80 countries gathered in Mali for the Nyéléni World Forum for Food Sovereignty. The outcome of the forum was a call for a radical restructuring of the global food and agriculture system to replace the current system which is largely dominated by the powerful interests of transnational corporations (TNCs). They instead advocated for local and national food systems that empower peasants and small scale farmers.

The forum also defined
food sovereignty as 'the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.'

They defined the six pillars of food sovereignty as:  1) focuses on food for people; 2) values food providers; 3) localises food systems; 4) puts control locally; 5) builds knowledge and skills; 6) works with nature.

In Mali, European groups committed to a similar forum to build food sovereignty in Europe. This happened in Austria in 2011, with the Nyéléni Europe forum, which led to a call to us all to transform our food systems in Europe and realise food sovereignty here. 



Food Sovereignty on 6 Billion Ways

'What is Food Sovereignty on the Fertile Ferment blog

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