In October this year 2021, La Via Campesina together with the rest of the food sovereignty movement celebrated 25 years of peasant-led efforts and campaign to bring food sovereignty to reality. This was a moment reflect and strategize how to continue to resist a model of production driven by greed for profit at all cost. The concept was formally introduced in policy circles in 1996 at the World Food Summit in Rome and later broadened collectively in 2007 and structured in six key pillars to reflect the interests of many vulnerable and often neglected constituencies.
The reflections started beginning of the year 2021, and converged on the 16th of October, the day of action for food sovereignty and against transnational corporations (TNCs). On this day, an international webinar on “Food Sovereignty: 25 years building the future” was held.
Elizabeth Mpofu, the outgoing General Coordinator of La Via Campesina, encouraged participants to continue to enrich the concept and build a better societies at a time when the world is at a cross road on many policy issues, of which the ideal food system to solve hunger and poverty is one among many.
The introduction of Food Sovereignty as a collective right has changed how the world understands poverty and hunger, which until recently was shaped by a narrow idea of “Food Security” dominated governance and policy-making circles founded on market ideology. Elizabeth Mpofu said “What is clear to all is that neoliberal policies, capitalism has failed! Now is the time to transform! We have the Peasant Rights Declaration to support the transformation… We have a great challenge before us to convince our governments not only to embrace Food Sovereignty but make and implement policies in favour of Food Sovereignty”.
How did we start to mobilise?
A Call to humanity to take action and unite for food sovereignty against corporate capture of food governance systems with a slogan “Food Sovereignty is Land, Water, Seeds, Bread and Solidarity!” was issued in September by La Via Campesina to kick start the mobilisations. In that call, Artists and Writers were also invited to write and draw for food Sovereignty. The Call noted the context in which the 25-year celebration and reflections were happening, a time when the planet and humanity is facing unprecedented crisis upon crisis and that neoliberalism was the cause.
In early October, La Via Campesina issued a statement in October in which Food Sovereignty is a presented as a “Manifesto for the Future of Our Planet”, an idea that unites humanity and cares for Mother Earth that feeds and nourishes all living things.
Solidarity Actions: Highlights
Today, the movement for food sovereignty has grown so big and is diverse. This was shown by the many actions and activities that were organised in celebration of the 25 years of this collective construction in all the four corners of the world. Many more actions are still being planned including organising the Nyéléni Global process to broaden and open discussions among movements for food sovereignty globally and will culminate in 2023 with a Nyéléni Global Forum. The academics for food sovereignty are also planning meetings to do critical reflection on the concept and offer views for the future.
The Israeli occupation deprives Palestinians of their right to food, right to life and right to development. 32.7% of Palestinians overall are food insecure. In the Gaza strip, this figure rises to 68.5%. Israeli occupation still prevents the import of goods and raw materials, as well as the export of agricultural products. In this webinar, listen to farmers and fisherfolks on the frontline in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as international experts and activists.
The International Youth Articulation and the International Collective on Agroecology, Seeds and Biodiversity of La Via Campesina shared their experiences on local agroecology training from a variety of territories from Africa, America, Asia and Europe in a virtual forum full of a strong spirit of building alternatives and continuing on the struggle.
This workshop, hosted by our allies ETC Group and Grain, unpacks the concept of “digitalization” and look at how corporations are pursuing forms of digital agriculture in different parts of the world that undermine peasant-led agroecology and food sovereignty. It will also demystify such concepts as datafication, digital land records, artificial intelligence and fintech.
This online seminar, hosted by FIAN and held on Oct. 13, 2021, unpacked corporate-led false solutions to hunger and the role of states and intergovernmental organizations in tolerating and even promoting such solutions.
- Agrarian Reform and the Defense of Land and Territories
Hosted by Focus on the Global South, FIAN and La Via Campesina, this webinar discussed the implementation of popular agrarian reform to achieve food sovereignty. Earlier in the month, Focus also hosted a regional dialogue in Asia that brought together some successful initiatives in the region to advance food sovereignty.
Friends of the Earth International as well as Urgenci were among other allies who joined in with more webinars that looked the issue of climate justice in the context of Food Sovereignty. They also carried out workshops that debunked the myth of “Nature Based Solutions”.
La Via Campesina’s Youth Articulation took advantage of the Young Farmers’ Roundtable organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the family farmers’ organizations working on implementing the United Nations Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF 2019-2028) to call for comprehensive agrarian reform and food sovereignty. “If the villages do not sow, the city cannot eat,” said Micheline Aduel, a young peasant leader from Haiti and the ICC member of La Via Campesina, highlighting the need for and importance of comprehensive agrarian reform.
The regional articulations of La Via Campesina also organized several events, actions and webinars (see #16Oct Gallery) during the month. La Via Campesina members and many other organisations organised also various actions of solidarity, exchanged seeds, planted trees, where conditions permitted street protests were organised, etc.
A series of postcards based on the 1996 Food Sovereignty declaration were developed and are being shared to create wider awareness on the political concept.
The Struggle Continues!
This year is a moment for us to amplify the grassroots solutions we have built over the last two decades to bring food sovereignty to our territories. In the month of November, LVC will continue to bring our communication materials, animation videos, postcards and posters to celebrate our collective struggles and build on this global solidarity.
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