Listening to the future: Children’s views on Food Sovereignty

(Bogota: December 5, 2023) La Via Campesina, recognizing the importance of engaging and facilitating parents participation, especially women, in the debates and decision-making spaces of the movement, is providing a childcare service during this 8th International Conference. A group of 15 children aged between 2 to 12 years old are being cared for while their parents participate in the conference proceedings. Parents bring them in the morning to a dedicated space where children participate in parallel activities to those happening in the main conference. Laura, a local youth and a passionate artist, helps the children in their daily activities, most of which are related to the struggle for food sovereignty.

Laura shares, “Our language differs from the adults who speak in academic terms, yet we use different methods to communicate. We often hear about setting community priorities and how people approach food sovereignty to support community processes. However, we often forget that children are also part of the community,’’ said Laura.

In this space, Laura adds, “we are trying to introduce an alternative narrative that acknowledges the voice of children from rural backgrounds. Art and craft is one way to achieve this.” The children designed different crafts using art and prepared puppet theatre as a tool to communicate their views.

Laura believes that art and craft enable children to express themselves and share their understanding of what food sovereignty is all about. It is important to set aside adult views, and allow children’s language to give their own ideas on food sovereignty. Understanding their definition is important. “Children’s perception of food sovereignty is the ability to determine their lifestyle and create their own spaces within their territories, growing up with their community’s ideals. This can become a reality, respecting the ideas of everyone around them,” Laura emphasizes.

Nury, member of La Via Campesina’s international coordination committee and leader of the National Agricultural and Livestock Trade Union Federation (Federación Nacional Sindical Unitaria Agropecuaria FENSUAGRO, Colombia), agrees. “We have to understand the children’s unique perspectives. We need to create spaces for children to interpret the world in their own way and for us to understand their perspectives. In La Via Campesina, we say that the youth are the agents of change and play an important role in changing the world through carrying forward the movement’s struggle for food sovereignty,” Nury says.

“This childcare space at the conference is not only for care, but an idea we had to listen to the children, the future of humanity. Their parents too, are relaxed and can participate more in discussions because they are closer to their children. They know their children are safe compared to leaving their children in rural areas.”

On the 7th of December, during the closing plenary session, a video recording of the children’s puppet theatre will be screened to convey their views on food sovereignty to the conference delegates.

The 8th International Conference (1- 8 December, 2023) of La Via Campesina was officially inaugurated in Bogota on the 3rd of December with the slogan “Faced with global crises, we build food sovereignty to ensure a future for humanity”. The Conference is the first to be held by the movement after the pandemic, to discuss issues that affect peasants around the world. In Bogotá, over 500 delegates from member organizations gathered to discuss, analyze, and promote concrete solutions to the political, social, economic, and climate crises affecting humanity. International Conferences are the most important decision-making, evaluation, and planning body of the movement. They have taken place in various parts of the world, such as Belgium in 1993, Mexico in 1998, India in 2000, Indonesia in 2013, and the Basque Country in 2017.

Children of today! Children of tomorrow!