“Every struggle, in any part of the world for food sovereignty
is our struggle.”
Nyéléni Declaration on Food Sovereignty
At the World Food Summit in 1996, La Via Campesina (LVC) launched a concept
that both challenged the corporate dominated, market driven model of globalised
food production and distribution, as well as offering a new paradigm to fight
hunger and poverty by developing and strengthening local economies. Since
then, food sovereignty has captured the imagination of people the world over - including
many governments and multilateral institutions - and has become a global rallying
cry for those committed to social, environmental, economic and political justice.
Food sovereignty is different from food security in both approach and politics. Food
security does not distinguish where food comes from, or the conditions under which it is
produced and distributed. National food security targets are often met by sourcing food
produced under environmentally destructive and exploitative conditions, and supported
by subsidies and policies that destroy local food producers but benefit agribusiness corporations.
Food sovereignty emphasizes ecologically appropriate production, distribution
and consumption, social-economic justice and local food systems as ways to tackle
hunger and poverty and guarantee sustainable food security for all peoples. It advocates
trade and investment that serve the collective aspirations of society. It promotes community
control of productive resources ; agrarian reform and tenure security for small-scale
producers ; agro-ecology ; biodiversity ; local knowledge ; the rights of peasants, women,
indigenous peoples and workers ; social protection and climate justice.
In 2001, delegates from peasant, fisher-folk, indigenous peoples, civil society, and
academic organisations met in Havana at the World Forum on Food Sovereignty
to elaborate the different elements of food sovereignty. From 2000 onwards, campaigners
against the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture demanded public support for
sustainable, family based food production and called for Priority to Peoples’ Food
Sovereignty and WTO out of Food and Agriculture.
The International Forum on Food Sovereignty in 2007 in Mali was a defining milestone
for food sovereignty and brought together more than 500 people from 80 countries to
pool ideas, strategies and actions to strengthen the global movement for food sovereignty.
The Declaration of Nyéléni encapsulates the vision of the movement and asserts :
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... 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 implies new social relations free of oppression and inequality
between men and women, peoples, racial groups, social classes and generations.
Food sovereignty makes sense for people in both, rural and urban areas, and poor and
wealthy countries. It is as much a space of resistance to neoliberalism, free market
capitalism, destructive trade and investment, as a space to build democratic food and
economic systems, and just and sustainable futures. Its transformative power has been
acknowledged by the Special Rapporteurs to the Right to food, Jean Ziegler and Olivier
de Schutter, and in key policy documents such as the IAASTD (International Assessment
of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development).
The majority of the world’s food is produced by over one billion small-scale
food producers, many of who, tragically, are hungry themselves. We will not
find lasting solutions to catastrophic climate change, environmental deterioration and
economic shocks unless we amplify their voices and capacities.
The story of food sovereignty is a story of struggle and hope. This edition of the
Nyéléni newsletter is dedicated to the struggles that help us to hope for a better world. Now more than ever is the time for food sovereignty.
Focus on the Global South
Download / view the newsletter here :
Nyéléni newsletter no 13 - Food Sovereignty