In the spotlight

In the spotlight 1

Food Sovereignty at the forefront for a new system

Neoliberal policies have failed to achieve their promises of endless economic growth, while many real investments have lost their profitability. Now a new era of financialization and capital accumulation, characterized by the dematerialization of the real economy and mergers and acquisitions by TNCs, has led to an unprecedented market concentration focused on the enhancement of new R&D (Research and Development) and (bio)technology investments. They aim to extend the frontiers of capitalism to capture all the world’s biodiversity, lower the cost of food and labour, and restart a material economic expansion.

To achieve this objective, TNCs increasingly influence the UN system to receive favourable public policies and normative frameworks. The World Economic Forum and TNCs are trying to transform the UN institutions’ governance principles and practices through so-called “multi-stakeholder governance” and make it the domain of a small number of powerful private monopolies. The COVID pandemic has shed light on the power of TNCs, as in many countries large scale corporate food enterprises were financially supported while small-scale food producers went bankrupt and food and agricultural workers (many of them migrants) remained unemployed and therefore without access to food.

The food sovereignty movement – which mainstreams agroecology – can be at the forefront of an alternative way forward, offering a solution to restart material economic expansion while tackling climate change, and reshaping a new society based on egalitarian principles. Indeed, the FAO has recognized the role of small-scale food producers in feeding the world, and recognises their role at the core of solutions to mitigate and reverse climate change. Until now, all the solutions to mitigate climate change proposed by the corporate sector have failed to address underlying causes and have continued to allow the biggest polluters to continue heating our planet. Real solutions to stop climate change are rooted in peoples’ access to and control of land, seeds, and water and in the promotion of agroecology, the restoration of nature and landscapes that enable water retention.

Following the World Food Summit in Rome in 1996 – during which La Via Campesina launched the Food Sovereignty agenda and the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC) was formed — it was at the Nyeleni Forum in 2007 where social movements gathered to agree on a common agenda for Food Sovereignty. In 2015 many of those same movements came together at the Nyeleni Forum for Agroecology, where a common definition of Agroecology was agreed in order to bring it into the mainstream of the United Nations. Now the food sovereignty movement through the IPC is calling for a new global summit which aims to connect the food sovereignty agenda with the other converging struggles for climate justice and system change, and which can demonstrate the real alternatives to the current food and economic system already in existence —alternatives based on agroecology and an economic system that includes territorial markets, direct relationships between producers and consumers, cooperatives and participatory community-led governance mechanisms and policies.

In the spotlight 2

Communication and the Urgency of Reporting on Food Sovereignty

To exercise your rights, you must know them. Alternative, popular, and community-based communication is key to this effort, as it entails social organizations and movements creating messages that strengthen their own narratives, without any intermediaries involved. They communicate the struggles, demands, complaints, ideas, and proposals for a dignified life directly from communities themselves, including calls for social, environmental, economic and gender equity.

Among the mainstream communications media monopolised by agribusinesses – who invest in million dollar advertising schemes whilst greenwashing their extractive projects that pollute soils and waterways – popular communication is forging its way.

Through blogs, social media messages and online video streaming, social, environmental, feminist, peasant, indigenous and Afro- organisations are experiencing a new boom in media appropriation, with new communication technologies becoming major allies.

An emblem of this new era is the collaboration between various organisations to build new communication channels and their own media. This unity in diversity, which we promote in order to advance a common political agenda, has its place in these transmedia platforms where the media hegemony can be challenged. In addition, there are audiences eager to see themselves reflected in these modern means of communication which have been built from the bottom up and from the political left, to inspire them and to help them find a cause they feel connected to.

Within the coverage of issues related to the development and practice of Food Sovereignty – be it articles, posters, reports, photo-reports or podcasts — it’s important to continue to share the stories that illustrate the emancipatory projects that are taking place around the world and that are facing political persecution, militarisation of the land and the imposition of agro-industrial technologies which are being incorrectly labelled as being ‘sustainable’.

In this capitalist and patriarchal world, women are the ones who suffer most from hunger and only 13% of them own land although paradoxically, they are responsible for 60% of global food production. Narratives on Food Sovereignty must feature women as the leading protagonists, showing the work they do and boosting their voices as political subjects of Agroecology.

Communicating what Food Sovereignty is and why its defence and its construction from the bottom up are important must be an integral part of movements’ strategies. Getting this message across is a central tool for effecting change, not an afterthought.