In the spotlight

In the spotlight

Climate chaos, COVID-19 and armed conflict have sent shockwaves through the global economy, and these overlapping crises are impacting world food security in unprecedented ways.

The current global food crisis worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, nearly 3.1 billion people could not afford a healthy diet, and about 2.3 billion people faced moderate or severe food insecurity in 2021.

As indicated by all-time record highs on the UN FAO’s food-price index, the global food crisis was aggravated again in March 2022, largely due to supply-and-demand imbalances in grain, oilseed, fuel and fertilizer markets following a spate of geo-political conflicts and wars.

The underlying causes of food insecurity are closely linked to structural poverty and unjust trade relations between countries, and similarly to the food price crises of 2008 and 2011, the present-day food crisis is significantly influenced by financial speculation and price volatility in global markets.

La Via Campesina (LVC) and our allies of the global food sovereignty movement continue to resist industrial agribusiness and the false solutions of neoliberalism. We are alert and organized toward the implementation of real, popular solutions for profound social change. End WTO! Build international trade based on peasants’ rights, agroecology, and food sovereignty!

The youth are the protagonists of social transformation 

The youth are political subjects that have a unique role to play in exercising democratic control over food systems. First and foremost, young people are tasked to learn from history. A historically-informed analysis of social, political, economic, and environmental issues is indispensable to coordinating effective strategies and concrete actions that address their root causes.

Young people are also tasked to analyse the present moment with clarity and precision from our own particular generational perspectives, utilizing concepts like food sovereignty and tools like UNDROP[1] which we’ve become equipped with through LVC’s training processes.

In addition, it is essential that the youth continue to seek solutions to existing problems while concurrently striving to secure the rights and well-being of future generations. 

The youth are central to food sovereignty struggles—they have the vital task of widening participation and forming new leadership. Over the last decade, several members of our global food sovereignty movement, who converged and organised at the Nyéléni meeting in 2007 in Mali, have emphasised the need for young peasants and activists to take the mantle of the struggle forward. As a result, over the years, through spaces such as the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC) and others, we have built a unified struggle and created platforms of education and training for young people in the movement coming from peasant, Indigenous, fisherfolk and pastoralist communities.

Meaningful opportunities for the participation of young people at all levels of the struggle for food sovereignty have enabled us to become increasingly integrated into the movement, and through our autonomously organized spaces, we have been articulating our political priorities and proposals for action.   

The youth are demanding radical solutions to the current food crisis

Over the last three decades, grassroots social movements have stepped up the pressure on governments to bring in the political and economic democratization of food and agricultural systems. From the beginning we have fought to ensure the direct, effective participation of peasant and Indigenous organizations in the elaboration, implementation, and monitoring of agricultural policies and rural development programs.

Core issues that led to the formation of the international food sovereignty movement remain highly relevant and at the forefront of our political agenda today, including external debt, international trade, and environmental protection, as well as agroecology, gender equality, women’s and LGBTTQI+ rights, and peasants’ rights. The youth are raising these banners of struggle in mass mobilizations, communication campaigns, and political education processes. We are also advancing in policy negotiations and advocacy efforts across UN spaces.

Between May and October 2022, LVC youth engaged in consultations organized by the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC), in collaboration with the FAO and under the framework of the UN Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF). The regional consultations revolved around Pillar 2 of the Decade[2], addressing topics such as youth migration, gender inequalities, land and market access, and the intergenerational transfer of productive resources and knowledge. The process provided space to identify common challenges and discuss policy approaches related to generational turnover in family farming, and its outcomes are intended to contribute to the implementation of the Decade’s Global Action Plan. The consultations clearly underscored that comprehensive and genuine agrarian reforms, agroecology training, and adequate farm succession plans are urgently needed to enable the youth to have a future in the countryside.

In June, the youth joined the mobilization against the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference in Geneva. We contributed to internal debates for contextual analysis of the global food crisis as well as public dialogues held in activist spaces and at a university. The youth were also actively part of the delegation that stayed in Geneva to advance peasants’ rights advocacy in the UN Human Rights Council. We arranged and attended meetings with Member State representatives in order to gauge their political will to support a forthcoming resolution in the Council to initiate a special procedure for the implementation of UNDROP.

We have also greatly contributed to a policy process in the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS), titled “Promoting youth engagement and employment in agriculture and food systems.” For over two years, we have been coordinating and actively participating in the youth working group of the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSIPM).

We now have political opportunities to organize at the national level and pressure States to implement the relatively good aspects of the CFS policy document, such as recommendations in support of human rights, dignified livelihoods, informal markets, public procurement, urban agriculture, and gender transformative policies, as well as the connection drawn with the UNDFF and the reference to redistributive reforms in the context of the CFS Voluntary Tenure Guidelines.  

The long-term sustainability and impact of our collective movement for food sovereignty lie in creating and expanding our alliances across allied sectors, joining forces with both urban and rural movements, workers’ unions. An equal emphasis must also be placed in organizing processes that greatly depend on the meaningful engagement and training of youth across the entire movement and allied sectors. The continuity, coherence, and ongoing relevance of the food sovereignty movement relies upon generational renewal through capacity-building for young people, the facilitation of intergenerational dialogue, and mobilizing everyone for transformative social change.

[1] UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP).

[2] Pillar 2–Transversal. Support youth and ensure the generational sustainability of 28

family farming.