IPC Call to Mobilize: For the Democratic Transformation of Food Systems Based on Food Sovereignty

To Demand Food Systems for Democracy and Social, Ecological, Economic and Cultural Transformation! Food Sovereignty Now!

We, small-scale food producers, peasants, consumers, workers, fisher people, artisan collectors pastoralists, Indigenous Peoples and Ancestral Peoples of marine ecosystem, women, gender diverse persons and young farmers, who fight for Food Sovereignty, launch this call to action. We will start our mobilizations on 16 October 2023, World Food Day, and will continue until we reach our Nyéléni Global Forum for Food Sovereignty in 2025 by joining hands with all those confronting public policies supporting the system of transnational corporate power, which threatens our peoples and undermines our rights and livelihoods.

We recognize our global social, political, and ecological interconnectedness. We confront a period of destabilization of institutions and social and ecological systems that sustain and support the livelihoods of the majority of the world’s Peoples and communities. We join together in rising up against right wing and authoritarian forces that seek to dismantle democracy. We resist oppressive hierarchies, racism, colonization, and capitalism.

This is a critical moment for us to collectively grow our struggle for the transformation of food systems. These systems should be based on justice and respect for economic, cultural, social, and environmental rights, as well as all other fundamental rights. Specifically, we recognize and uphold the interdependent and collective rights unique to Indigenous Peoples. We must fight for systems change to affirm care for people and the planet, based on agroecology, food sovereignty, and social, economic, gender and climate justice. Together they advance the wellbeing of all and the continuity of humanity and Mother Earth.

Why are we starting this call for action?

The world is in unprecedented turmoil, and we are all facing deeply rooted and overlapping crises. The “2023 Global Report on Food Crises” confirms that “258 million people faced acute levels of hunger in 2022, compared to 193 million in 2021 and 155 million in 2020”.1 Neoliberal policies and the promotion of industrial agriculture have failed to eliminate hunger and poverty in the world. The concentration of political power in a small number of governments and corporate elite, in fact, made our food and political systems less resilient to shocks and increasing its fragility and the widening gap between the dominated elites and the rest of the population living in a growing state of poverty and violence. Similarly, these actors are increasingly influencing international institutions, including UN bodies and agencies, rendering the UN system itself ineffective in its action and a space to impose policies all in the logic of neo-liberalism and the mythology of digitalisation, without placing limits on the power of finance capital.

Through the dominance of a small number of governments, with the direct influence of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and other high-level (non-governmental) political spaces, corporations have slowly succeeded in transforming the governance principles and practices of UN institutions, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The negative impacts are manifold in all regions and increasingly risk not only the vitality of Indigenous Peoples’ and rural communities’ food systems globally, but also the legitimacy and mission of these public institutions.

Meanwhile, Indigenous Peoples, with their unique and ancestral rights to their territories, social movements and community-based organizations continue to promote healthy food production through agroecology. We tirelessly defend against grabbing and dispossession of natural resources. Despite our efforts, we persistently face the criminalization of our struggles, leading to the tragic disappearance and murder of our leaders including our youth and women human rights defenders.

Food Sovereignty demands systems change

The International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty was constituted in 1996, 27 years ago, and has been a dynamic part of the transformation toward achieving gender, social, cultural, environmental, and economic justice, and achievement of peoples’ sovereignty. We have achieved greater political recognition of the critical role played by small-scale food producers in feeding the majority of the world’s population. We have fought the neoliberal economic model that has led to increasing precarity for small scale producers and other workers, imposed unregulated and unfair free-trade regimes, and commodified life itself. We have won political recognition for the rights of small-scale food producers and the unique rights of Indigenous Peoples which are now enshrined in several frameworks from the local to the international spheres. The time to advance is now.

Since the beginning of our movement, we have expressed our opposition to converting food into a commodity. That is why we have fought to get the World Trade Organization (WTO) out of agriculture; we have opposed the ‘green revolution’ and large-scale industrial agriculture responsible for environmental degradation, the proliferation of toxic agro-chemicals and a third of global carbon emissions of greenhouse gasses. We have been contributing to and strengthening the United Nations multilateral system to guarantee the human right to food. Specifically, we prioritize the unique collective rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as the rights of other small scale food producers especially the right to a life in dignity. We have defended our lands and territories and promoted agroecology under the paradigm of Food Sovereignty as an alternative pathway to eradicating hunger and cooling the planet as well as a key element in assuring a just, rights-based transition to reverse climate change. We have built our power by bringing together peasants, Indigenous Peoples, workers, fisherfolk, pastoralists, farmers, women and youth, forest people, consumers, environmental justice advocates.

How will we mobilize?

We call on all Indigenous Peoples and other small scale food producers fighting for a turnaround in public policies for food sovereignty, climate justice, solidarity, and peace, for gender, racial, social, and economic justice to join our mobilizations from October 16th, 2023, onwards. We call all of you to join our global mobilizations that are decentralized and rooted in the agendas and realities of the different regions of the world.

Actions already announced:

  • We will undertake specific protest actions during the World Food Forum of FAO (16 to 20 October) to denounce the recent FAO’s common priorities agenda, which has established an unprecedented open-door policy for the corporate sector, and an industry-friendly multi-stakeholder approach.
  • We will send letters to national governments demanding support to protect FAO against corporate influence and to new initiatives towards a democratic transformation of food systems based on food sovereignty and collective rights of Indigenous People, small-scale food producers and citizens.
  • We will organize an IPC online briefing on Thursday, 12th of October to present a statement for World Food Day.
  • We will organize a social media storm on Monday, 16 October. Find here more instructions on how to get involved and share your local action with us!

1 2023 Global Report on Food Crises: Joint Analysis for Better Decisions (Rome: Food Security Information Network and Global Network against Food Crises, 2023), pp. 7, 17, https://www.fsinplatform.org/sites/default/files/resources/files/GRFC2023-hi-res.pdf.