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Newsletter no 48 - Nyéléni process: Towards a Global Forum of Food

In the spotlight

Monday 20 June 2022, by Manu

In the spotlight 1- The current political conjuncture: why do we need a new Nyéléni Global Forum?

In the last two decades, the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC) has assiduously worked alongside the communities of small-scale food producers, Indigenous Peoples, consumers, and citizens, guaranteeing the rights of those who produce and those who are marginalised. Today, the landmark results achieved by the IPC risk being overshadowed by a complex collision of several deep-rooted crises and the resulting shift in the geopolitical landscape which threatens the principles and values that the IPC has always defended and put forth in the quest for food sovereignty.

The COVID 19 pandemic has shone a light on the connections between different global justice struggles. It has exacerbated existing inequalities and reinforced power imbalances to the extent that many countries tumbled into a deep social and economic crisis where the most vulnerable suffer the most. The voices of those communities calling for systemic change, based on the existing experiences of agroecology and peasant family farming, which are feeding the vast majority of the world, need to be strengthened in a global alliance with social movements and Indigenous Peoples to address this urgent issue so that it is not eclipsed by the immediate issue of the COVID 19 pandemic.

Against this backdrop, the IPC is organising a new process for the purpose of discussion, not only within the movements struggling for Food Sovereignty, but with a whole new range of movements from different sectors. This new Nyéléni process aims at building responses at the global, regional and local level and tightening alliances with other movements that share the IPC’s vision and struggles, but which come from other fields: labour justice, climate justice, women’s struggles, for example. The process, in which intersectionality is a key aspect, collects the different but overlapping local struggles from the ground and takes them to the global level and will allow the participation of different movements at different levels.

If intersectionality is one innovative aspect in the process of Nyéléni, the second defining aspect is the focus on the process itself instead of only on the final Global Forum: it strives to build an entire process that brings with it all the power of the grassroots movements. As an initial phase of the process, IPC’s regions, working groups, and global organisations will undertake an exercise of internal consultation to reflect on, deepen, and widen the principles and concepts of food sovereignty into the new reality. The outcomes of these consultations will form the backbone of the Nyéléni process. Simultaneously, new alliances will be sought with social movements working on different issues: climate and labour justice, feminist movements, Indigenous Peoples movements, Black movements, and anti-war movements, to create an intersectional convergence towards joint proposals for systemic change.
Ultimately, the Nyéléni process will culminate in the Global Nyéléni Forum, in which hundreds of delegates from all over the world will discuss strategies and solutions for more just, inclusive, sustainable, and diverse food systems, and will relaunch a global alliance that is capable of counteracting the forces that are pushing the world into a deeper, multidimensional crisis.

In the spotlight 2 - Nyéléni: territory, process, and methodology

The International Forum for Food Sovereignty: Nyéléni 2007 (see box 1) was the result of a long regional and international process of cross-sectoral political accumulation. It was a milestone that provided us with principles, a political framework, methodologies, and an agenda of initiatives to continue advancing food sovereignty and the defence of territories and peoples’ rights. Nyéléni was also home to two other important international processes on this journey: in 2011, to coordinate resistance to land grabbing (see box 2) and in 2015, to build a common multi-sectoral vision on agroecology and agree on strategies to defend and promote it (see box 3).

Nyéléni is the territory and platform for our multi-sectoral convergence process, which has allowed us to deepen our analysis and positions, make struggles visible and resist their criminalisation, strengthen solidarity links, build cross-sectoral agreements, and agree on initiatives to transform food systems and our societies. It is a common programme of local, regional, and global struggles built on the experiences and knowledge of social movements and organisations.

It is a process whose objective has always been to accumulate forces to strengthen the popular mobilisation of resistance to colonial, patriarchal, imperialist, and racist capitalism, its false solutions and all its forms of exploitation, oppression, and commodification of life, but also in defence of the commons, the sovereignty, rights, and self-determination of peoples and social, racial, gender, economic, intergenerational, and environmental justice.

Our methodology has a founding principle in Internationalist Solidarity on which to implement Dialogue of knowledge (Diálogos de saberes) that, based on the heritage, patrimony and diversity of peoples, cultures, and struggles, builds unity in action, while strengthening territorial organisational processes, since without strong and coordinated organisations, from the local to the global, there will not be sufficient resistance to the power of capital and conservative forces, nor systemic transformations.

These 15 years have been instrumental in raising the visibility of food sovereignty, agroecology, and integral agrarian reform, among others, in international, regional, and local political spaces and institutions, and have motivated various levels of government to implement our agenda. They have also been central in unmasking and denouncing attempts at corporate co-optation of our solutions and have made food sovereignty a political objective of various movements (feminist, climate justice, social justice, among others).

However, in order to dismantle the power of agribusiness and provide a global response to the rise of right-wing conservative forces, it is necessary to converge with peoples facing different forms of oppression, and with them to agree on programmes and strategies for social, racial, gender, economic, intergenerational, and environmental justice.

The Nyéléni process has given the food sovereignty movement the commitment to be a key driver in building a broader social front with the feminist, LGBTQI+, trade union, anti-racist, class-based oppression resistance and anti-colonialist movements.