Twenty-Five Years of Envisioning Food Sovereignty: Celebrating Diversity, Resilience, and Transforming the Society

This year 2021, we celebrate 25 years of peasant-led efforts and campaign in our communities to bring food sovereignty to reality – healthy diets, healthy soils, healthy seeds, agroecology etc – and continue to resist the capitalist model. This vision, of relating to nature and with one another harmoniously, practised for thousands of years was put into words by La Via Campesina and allies at the 1996 World Food Summit in Rome. We defined “Food Sovereignty” as the right of people to autonomously produce healthy, nutritious, climatically, and culturally appropriate food, using local resources and through agroecological means, primarily to address the local food needs of their communities.

As a mark of celebration, we are releasing our first official poster in a series that will explore the different dimensions of Food Sovereignty, as laid out at the 1996 Summit.

Credit: Rosanna Morris

Download High Resolution Posters Here (Link expires on 26 September 2021)

Since its launch 25 years ago in Rome, the food sovereignty definition has expanded to reflect the interests of many vulnerable and often neglected constituencies. In 2007, the definition was broadened and structured in six key pillars thus:

“Food sovereignty is 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. It puts those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations. It defends the interests and inclusion of the next generation. It offers a strategy to resist and dismantle the current corporate trade and food regime, and directions for food, farming, pastoral and fisheries systems determined by local producers. Food sovereignty prioritises local and national economies and markets and empowers peasant and family farmer-driven agriculture, artisanal – fishing, pastoralist-led grazing, and food production, distribution and consumption based on environmental, social and economic sustainability. Food sovereignty promotes transparent trade that guarantees just income to all peoples and the rights of consumers to control their food and nutrition. It ensures that the rights to use and manage our lands, territories, waters, seeds, livestock and biodiversity are in the hands of those of us who produce food. Food sovereignty implies new social relations free of oppression and inequality between men and women, peoples, racial groups, social classes and generations.”

The food sovereignty has thus had far-reaching implications on public policies, picked up by many organizations and institutions such as the United Nations bodies (Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO], International Fund for Agricultural Development [IFAD], Human Rights Council [UNHRC], etc). Some governments have included it in their policies and some in constitutions.

Despite these major leaps forward, the architects of the industrial agriculture are once again pushing for more destructive and extractive farming methods.


The upcoming UN Food System Summit is a clear example that corporate capture is in overdrive, using the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased food insecurity to push for their profit-driven interests. The organizers of the UN Food Systems Summit, since its conception in 2019, have sidelined the role of peasant and indigenous movements in setting the agenda of the Summit.

As a result, La Via Campesina has joined scores of other social movements in denouncing and boycotting this Summit which is touted to be taking place in our name, but by undermining us!

La Via Campesina will also join forces with other members of the civil society to organize a counter-summit by the end of July 2021 – to present real alternatives that emerge from our experiences in our territories. The battle for the future of food has grown contentious, we, the peasants and allies, need to revisit, renew the Food Sovereignty right while ensuring its continuity.

In the coming days, La Via Campesina will also send an orientation note to all our members, elaborating the different ways in which we can join the counter-summit mobilisations that are planned in the last week of July. It will be important to join our efforts to define the transformation we seek and the pathways to get there.


We need to better link the food sovereignty right with the implementation of the rights reclaimed within UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), while at the same time clarifying the different interpretations that were made of this right since 1996 to mark the red line and the differences with the diverted uses made of it – either by the governments, extreme right forces, or certain NGOs. The #Next25years are important to strengthen localized food systems critical in the fight against hunger and cool the planet, preserve biodiversity, and respect peasants’ and workers’ rights. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the importance and the resilience of local food systems that have kept many people from hunger and starvation. Thus, we continue to push for a radical transformation strategy towards a fair and decent food system for all, which recognizes peoples’ needs, accords dignity and respects nature, puts people above profits, and resists corporate capture. Now is the time to transform and build better societies. #NoFutureWithoutFoodSovereignty #Next25years