Food Sovereignty: Linking the global and local (LWA)

Chair:Josh Brem-Wilson (CAWR)

This workshop aimed to demonstrate how the food sovereignty movement is bringing democracy to the global food system, and explore what a UK National Food Policy based on food sovereignty principles would look like.

Session summary

Key conclusions

Action points

Individual speaker presentations and abstracts

Patrick Mulvany (former Chair of UK Food Group): Food Sovereignty: from concept to reality (796kb pdf file)

Food sovereignty, as a concept, was developed in 1993 in reaction against the imminent WTO agreement that could discriminate against smaller-scale and more organic food producers, who provide the world with most of its food. The Spanish term Soberanía Alimentaria (Food Sovereignty in English) that means ‘having control over the food system’. It was launched in Rome at the time of FAO’s 1996 World Food Summit and immediately gained traction, especially among those who campaigned to get the WTO out of Agriculture. In 1992, the Right to Food was included as a key element of Food Sovereignty. The ‘concept’ was transformed into a clear ‘framework’ at a landmark international meeting in Mali: Nyéléni 2007: forum for food sovereignty, which included the participation of 500 representatives from food producer, consumer and environmental movements. At Nyéléni 2007, in addition to adopting a broad definition, 6 pillars of food sovereignty were agreed. These clarify what the movement stands for and what it opposes. The outcome is a grassroots movement in every corner of the world that defends an environmentally sound, biodiverse and nutritious food system for both rural and urban peoples.

Adam Payne (European Co-ordination of Via Campesina, LWA): A European perspective on the politics and practice of food sovereignty

This presentation will focus on exploring the politics and practice of Food Sovereignty in Europe. We will look at how the vision has been developed by the European Coordination of Via Campesina, and other grassroots civil society organisations, into a credible framework for a localised, democratic and sustainable solution to the problems of the industrial food and farming system in Europe. The talk will blend examples of food sovereignty in practice, with an analysis of the political significance of the Food Sovereignty vision in the European context, and a look forwards at the development of the European food sovereignty movement.

Rebecca Laughton (Land Workers’ Alliance): Food Sovereignty for UK Farmers

Although originating in the global south, the need for people to regain control of the food system in the UK is also important. Organic producers are key players, due to their independence from the agri-industrial inputs that tie many farmers into the globalised commodity market, and their closer links to the consumer than the average farmer. The UK Food Sovereignty movement began officially at a gathering in July 2012 (although unofficially the organic movement has been working on Food Sovereignty issues for years), and the Landworkers’ Alliance (LWA) emerged from that meeting. It brings together small and medium scale, ecological farmers and growers, under the Food Sovereignty banner to campaign and develop the skills necessary for a saner future for the food and farming system. The activities of LWA are underpinned with the 6 principles of Food Sovereignty (which include working with nature, focusing on food for people and the localisation). The LWA is asking farmers and others in the movement what they would prioritise in a National Food Policy based on Food Sovereignty Principles, and during the discussion part of this session we will be asking you, as organic producers, what policy ideas you would like to see in such a national food policy.

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