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food sovereignty movement

In solidarity with all climate change affected communities of the world

By staff - La Via Campesina, November 1, 2017

Solidarity Statement

Harare: October 27, 2017

La Via Campesina International Coordinating Committee (ICC) gathered in Harare affirms its support and solidarity with the victims of the climate crisis around the world.

Since August this year we witnessed several disasters due to increased impacts of the human made climate change both in scale and intensity: hurricanes, floods, tropical storms, droughts, heat waves and more. This year only the Atlantic hurricane season had about 15 tropical storms, 10 hurricanes of which 6 (Harvey, Irma, Maria, etc.), were major and led lost lives, homes, and damage running in to huge financial impacts in Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, United States of America, etc. Africa also experienced flooding in West Africa (i.e. Sierra Leone) besides continuing droughts in parts of North and sub-Sahara Africa. In Asia (India, Nepal, Bangladesh, etc.) experienced flooding which led to thousands of deaths and the destruction of croplands.

In Europe too, severe droughts and high temperatures and winds have made it difficult to control forest fires. Recently, intense storms (Xavier, Herwart, Ophelia) have battered some countries (Germany, Ireland, Britain, Poland, and the Czech Republic) leaving a trail of destruction devastating storms. In all these cases hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, thousands killed. The most affected are our brothers and sisters, the peasants, poor people, rural workers, the indigenous and the fisherfolk, some of whom have been forced to migrate. Climate change continues to aggravate the life conditions of many peasants who are already suffering marginalisation and repression from capitalist state. Both in the urban areas and countryside, our sisters and brothers have limited resources to rebuild their lives, their homes, their plots and their communities.

La Via Campesina is appalled by the continued denial of the link between these climate change catastrophes to anthropogenic emissions and also by the recent pull out by U.S. President Donald Trump.

We urgently call upon our allies, friends and social movements to galvanise their struggles towards a system change. We urgently need to mobilize together with the civil society to push for our true solutions based on food sovereignty and peasant agroecology which cool the Earth and increase democratic control of energy production at the local level.

Therefore, during the forthcoming UN climate talks in Bonn (Germany) we will be on the streets pushing forward our peasant agenda, our true solutions and staying in solidarity with all climate change affected communities of the world today.

The impacts of the actions of TNCs on peasant communities

By Federico Pacheco - La Via Campesina, October 25, 2016

At the ongoing negotiations in Geneva, of the Open Ended Inter Governmental Working Group (OEIWG) at United Nations, Federico Pacheco of the Union of Land Workers of Andalusia intervened to denounce the actions of transnationals pushing a model of industrial agriculture that pollutes the environment, monopolizes and privatizes the commons, and exploits workers and producers. Here is the full text of the speech. 

La Vía Campesina expresses support to the setup of a Binding Treaty. La Via Campesina, as an international organization of peasants and rural workers, has defended for more than two decades the survival of agriculture and rural livestock worldwide and small-scale fisheries, indigenous communities and sustainability in the use of natural and energy resources.

We have been suffering since the middle of last century of a progressive disappearance of small farms in favor of an agro-industrial system based on large-scale production and distribution, pollution of nature, energy waste and global warming, as well as labor exploitation of workers. The dismantling and destruction of the rural world brings about unemployment, poverty, hunger, and displacement and forced migration around the globe.

The role of Transnational Corporations has been and is decisive in this process. Since the green revolution, in which chemical fertilizers and pesticides began to poison the land, water and people, along with the production of enormous benefits for large international companies, and more than two hundred million hectares grabbed in the last years by pension funds and multinational corporations. We saw as well an unstoppable process of concentration, in which very few corporations control the global markets for seeds, pesticides and agrochemicals among others, as well as price setting. 

The Free Trade Agreements have come to further facilitate their actions to limit and cancel any public policy that harms their interests. The imposition of the opening of borders, tax havens and arbitration tribunals, creates a legal and political framework that guarantees their impunity and makes it impossible to seek reparations against environmental and social disasters that occur.

Even in this difficult situation we find that most of the world's population live in rural areas and peasant agriculture through local distribution, provides most of the food to the populations, creating jobs and protecting biodiversity. 

As La Via Campesina and many other organizations, we have been committed to the primacy of human rights of peoples and individuals, over the interests and profits of big business. In that sense, we are promoting  the framework of the United Nations the Declaration of Peasant Rights, to ensure defend and promote the rights to food sovereignty, access to natural and productive resources, local markets, income and services worthy to farmers and rural workers in general.

However, neither this Declaration nor the major international regulatory achievements related to human rights will have any effectiveness if the activities of the transnational companies are not regulated in a binding way and sovereignty and self-determination to the states and peoples is not regained, as well as the respect for the principles of multilateralism and supremacy of human rights. 

Peasants around the world are suffering under these companies that contaminate our seeds, dispossess us of land, deprive and poison our populations and criminalise and murder our leaders who oppose them. Yet, these transnational companies are operating with impunity.

And this is because these corporations, with more power than many states, effectively use all mechanisms to prevent enforcement of laws, including court judgments at national and international level. 

We have also seen how voluntary, social and environmental commitments made by these big companies are nothing more than a marketing ploy and an attempt at whitewashing their violations, sometimes even to avoid losses.

We urgently need an instrument, specific for transnational corporations, binding and enforceable, which allow states and the United Nations to control them, regulate them and make them respect human rights.  

As Via Campesina, we encourage states to retake the spirit of the United Nations Charter and defend the interests and rights of their populations, including those of the rural world, beyond the pressures and interests of large corporations.

Largest-ever European food sovereignty gathering kicks off in Romania

By staff - La Via Campesina, October 25, 2016

Cluj-Napoca, October 25th – the largest-ever European meeting on food sovereignty starts today, as over 500 people from over 40 countries gather to discuss how to reclaim our ever-more corporate-controlled food and farming system. [1]

The second European Nyéléni Forum for Food Sovereignty runs from October 26-30, and brings together farmers, fisherfolk, pastoralists, gardeners, food and agricultural workers, researchers, activists and many more.

For Jyoti Fernandes, peasant farmer from the UK and coordination committee member for the European Coordination Via Campesina, « the convergence here in Cluj of so many sectors and constituencies of society is essential in transforming and strengthening our food systems in Europe, based on agroecology. From the farm to the plate, the economic, environmental, social and public health stakes of food production must mobilize all levels of society – local, national and international. Here, in Nyéléni Europe, this is happening.»

 Stanka Becheva, food and farming campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: “The food fight is on against agribusiness mega-mergers, which would rubber-stamp industrial farming. The diversity and size of the movement assembled here this week shows the strength of the food sovereignty movement, and how it is ready to push for better farming for people and planet.”

The forum features a “peasants’ market”, film screenings, and site visits to local peasants demonstrating sustainable local farming methods and environmental justice struggles including the highly controversial proposed gold mine at Roșia Montană.

Themes discussed at the forum include models of food production and consumption, food distribution, the right to natural resources and the commons, and how to improve work and social conditions in food and agricultural systems.

Spokespeople from a variety of professions and backgrounds are available for interview in person or on the phone in English, Romanian, French, German, Turkish, Spanish, Dutch etc.

List of spokespeople: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KIbHCiXgkwY5eKUYkX5sVweaFDsM3IxxZ_21abhxOBI/edit?usp=sharing

“WTO, Out! Building Alternatives”: La Via Campesina to organise Peoples’ Summit during WTO’s XI Ministerial Conference in Argentina

By staff - La Via Campesina, November 17, 2017

15 November 2017: La Via Campesina is calling upon social movements and civil society organisations of the world to mobilise and organise our resistances against the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), build solidarity alliances and to participate in the People’s Summit “WTO, Out! Building alternatives”, from the 10-13 December coinciding with the XI WTO Ministerial in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

A preliminary agenda of the summit is available here. As you may note, this is currently only available in Spanish. We will make the English version available shortly.

For the first time since its inception, the World Trade Organization (WTO) is planning to meet in Latin America. From the 10th to the 13th of December, Mauricio Macri’s government will host the WTO’s 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Entrepreneurs, ministers, chancellors, and even presidents will be there. To do what? To demand more “freedom” for their companies, more “ease of doing business” for exploiting workers, peasants, indigenous people, and taking over land and territories. In other words, less “restrictions” on transnational wastage.

Since its beginnings in 1995 as derivative of General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATTs), the World Trade Organization has promoted the most brutal form of capitalism, better known as trade liberalization. At successive Ministerial Conferences, the WTO has set out to globalise the liberalisation of national markets, promising economic prosperity at the cost of sovereignty. In more or less the same terms, by its “liberalization, deregulation and privatization”, which is called Package of Neoliberalism, WTO has encouraged the multiplication of free trade agreements (FTAs) between countries and regional blocs, etc. On this basis and by making use of governments that have been co-opted, the world’s largest transnational corporations (TNCs) are seeking to undermine democracy and all of the institutional instruments for defending the lives, the territories, and the food and agricultural ecosystems of the world’s peoples.

In the previous Ministerial Conference (MC) in Nairobi in 2015, WTO had made six decisions on agriculture, cotton and issues related to LDCs. The agricultural decisions cover commitment to abolish export subsidies for farm exports, public stock-holding for food security purposes, a special safeguard mechanism for developing countries, and measures related to cotton. Decisions were also made regarding preferential treatment for least developed countries (LDCs) in the area of services and the criteria for determining whether exports from LDCs may benefit from trade preferences.

This year, with Macri Inc. in the Casa Rosada (Government House in Argentina), the coup leader Michel Temer in the Palacio del Planalto (the official workplace of the president of Brazil), and Brazilian Roberto Azevedo as its Director General, the WTO wants to return to the subject of agriculture, to put an end to small-scale fishing, and to make progress with multilateral agreements such as the misnamed General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Notwithstanding the misleading protectionist statements coming from Washington and London, the WTO will meet again to try to impose the interests of capital at the cost of Planet Earth, of the democratic aspirations of the world’s peoples, and of life itself.

Declaration of Güira de Melena: First Global encounter of La Via Campesina agroecology schools and formation processes

By staff - La Via Campesina, May 31, 2018

Declaration of Güira de Melena: First Global encounter of La Via Campesina agroecology schools and formation processes

MAY 21 – 30, 2018
“Niceto Pérez” Integral Center of the Asociación Nacional de Agricultores Pequeños (ANAP)
GÜIRA DE MELENA, ARTEMISIA, CUBA

Via Campesina, Bali Declaration: World Bank and IMF represent the interests of agribusiness, they should GO!

By La Via Campesina - La Via Campesina, October 11, 2018

We, the peasant women and men of La Via Campesina – a global movement comprising 182 peasant organisations from 81 countries – who have assembled in Bali this week and representing peasant and indigenous peoples of Asia, Africa, Europe and Americas, are unanimously and emphatically denouncing the ongoing Annual Meeting of World Bank and IMF.

La Via Campesina responds to COP23 calling for Peasant Agroecology

By Bernd Schmitz and Paula Gioia - La Via Campesina, November 9, 2017

Peasants, small farmers and Indigenous peoples ‘feed the world and cool the planet.’ This is what the global peasant movement, La Via Campesina, has come to Bonn, Germany, to put onto the agenda at the COP23 climate meetings — both in the official space and at the People’s Climate Summit where social movements met to strategize for alternatives to capitalism and its climate crisis.

According to ETC Group, peasants and Indigenous peoples are the sole food providers for 70 percent of the world’s population, and they use only 30 percent of the earth’s natural resources to get all of the food to the table.

“No chemical has ever touched our soil. We have held onto our traditional seeds which withstand many of the climate challenges we are facing”, explained Michaelin Sibanda, a young peasant from Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers Forum (ZIMSOFF). “We know that, to have healthy food and healthy ecosystems, we need to have healthy soil.”

The principles of agroecology help to conserve water, soils and seeds. But, for La Via Campesina, agroecology is also political: “It is proven that there is resilience in agroecology, and resilience is also resistance — it relates to the way we organize collectively and bring together concrete proposals for change that are sustained by work and struggle in our different territories,” explained Jesús Vázquez, a young organizer and activist from the Organization Boricuá of Agroecology in Puerto Rico. In September 2017, Puerto Rico was devastated by two, back-to-back hurricanes which severely undermined all aspects of life on the island, including food production. Vázquez continued,

“In the context of these hurricanes, we have witnessed that agroecological practices are more resistant to extreme weather phenomena, they bring resilience. Many roots and tubers, have pulled through the disaster. Many peasants and farmers are already back in the fields planting and cultivating despite the fact that the Secretary of Agriculture says that agriculture is completely devastated throughout the island. We are here to remind governments that the change must be systemic.”

La Via Campesina and their allies’ proposals for addressing the climate crisis get to the root cause of the problem — corporate control over decision-making and the resulting processes of land and water grabbing, peasant criminalization and human rights abuses in the transnational supply chains used to produce food. “At the climate negotiations, governments are putting forward false solutions. We call them false because these proposals do not bring real change but, rather, bolster corporate profits,” said Fanny Metrat, from the French peasant organization Confédération Paysanne. “Carbon markets, geoengineering, so-called climate smart agriculture are being promoted by the same people who are also promoting emission-intensive livestock production and an export-based industrial agriculture which requires massive amounts of fossil fuels. It is a big contradiction,” she explained.

At COP23, these contradictions are becoming clear. The German government, a big promoter of green economy, has positioned itself as spearheading efforts to address climate change while also expanding the production of coal—the dirtiest fossil fuel on the planet. The international delegation of La Via Campesina members joined the over 4.000 people strong Ende Gelände (‘Here, and No Further’) march and civil disobedience action against Germany’s largest mining company, KWE, strengthening the message that the most important action to address climate crisis is to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Bernd Schmitz, from the Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft (AbL) the farmer member organization of La Via Campesina in Germany, underlined the need for changes in Germany. Speaking to journalists, Schmitz said,

“The consequences of global warming are felt all over the world. In Germany, we have had extreme droughts in some regions and extreme rains in others. This year, because of severe hailstorms, we lost nearly all fruit production in some areas of Germany! The government is too slow to respond to the problem. The AbL contends that smallholder agriculture, which includes a localized food chain and ecological food production, helps to solve the problem. This system uses less fossil energy, reducing the emission of dangerous greenhouse gases. Small farmers around the world urgently need support to feed people and maintain their livelihoods in the context of climate change.”

La Via Campesina has been joined by other frontline communities, including from within the It Takes Roots delegation of impacted communities based in the United States and also the fisherfolk and peasants within the Global Convergence for Land and Water Struggles. A representative of the West African contingent of the Convergence, Massa Koné, from Mali, was clear about the importance of working with allies to address climate change and multiple injustices: “As grassroots organizations, we have similar perspectives on the problems and what we need to do about them. La Via Campesina allows our communities to be heard. Our call for system change is urgent because the damage is growing. Commons, including land, forests and water, must be protected and restored to the people. We need to work together with our allies to be prepared for climate change.”

Globalising the struggle also means globalising solidarity and hope: La Via Campesina, while accepting the XV Navarra International Prize for Solidarity

By staff - La Via Campesina, December 7, 2017

Full text of the message that La Via Campesina delivered while accepting the XV Navarra International Prize for Solidarity on 21 November 2017

We thank you first of all for the Navarra International Prize for Solidarity. We consider it a recognition of a process of resistance and construction of a more just and humane alternative.

We also take the opportunity to apologize that our general secretary, Elizabeth Mopfu of Zimbabwe, was not able to participate in this event. It is our pleasure to stand in for her; we are María Canil of Guatemala and Unai Aranguren of the Basque Country, both members of the International Coordinating Committee of La Via Campesina.

La Via Campesina is a world movement of peasant organizations and other people working in rural areas. It represents 200 million peasant and small-holder families spread over all of the world’s continents.

It emerged in a neo-liberal context in which the financial capital of transnational corporations came to dominate agriculture. This new period was characterized by the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as well as the policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, which had devastating consequences for the countryside and agriculture worldwide and fueled the need to articulate popular resistance at the international level.

The creation of La Via Campesina was principally founded on actions of solidarity, the urgency of mobilizing solidarity as a fundamental value in light of the evictions, repression, detentions and even massacres that peasants, men and women, were facing (and are still facing) in various parts of the world. Accordingly we highlight this call, as we receive the XV Navarre International Prize for Solidarity: “Globalizing the struggle also means globalizing solidarity, and the hope of the peoples of the world”.

We live in difficult times in which humankind is confronted with serious economic, political and environmental crises, but also a crisis of values and of profound contradictions between capital and labor. This is also very much the reality of people in the countryside, worldwide.

However, during its journey of more than 20 years, La Via Campesina has succeeded in articulating struggles at the international level, developing a politicized peasant and smallholder identity tied to the land and the production of healthy food in a sovereign manner. Our members represent the sectors worst hit by the globalization of food: small and medium-sized producers, day laborers, landless people, rural women, indigenous communities. This made it possible for our movement to break away from the North-South divide, and to integrate organizations from all over the world.

The emergence of La Via Campesina as a sustainable alternative to the predatory model of agribusiness has cast a new vision on agricultural policies, on food, and on peasants and family farmers, both in our own territorial spaces and at the international level. Policies are no longer formulated without our voices being heard, or without us putting on the table our agenda on the rights of peasants, agroecology, land reform and especially, food sovereignty.

Food globalization, conceived by and for agribusiness and large-scale distribution, privatizes common goods and wipes out those who care for and work the land, by turning food into a profiteering trade. The liberalization of agriculture is a war against peasants and small-scale farmers. It involves policies embedded in institutions and international treaties that jeopardize those who guarantee Food Sovereignty and feed the world’s populations.

We wish to highlight the role played by peasant and rural women in the resistance and defense of an agriculture tied to the land and centered on life, rather than on speculation and money. They are strategic agents in the struggle for food sovereignty, gender equality, defending and caring for the land and territories, the defense of natural goods, the seeds as the heritage of the peoples, agroecology and biodiversity.

La Via Campesina carries on growing and our political proposal is gathering strength. We are increasingly recognized as leading political voice internationally, for example by initiating the process for an international declaration on the rights of peasants and other rural persons at the United Nations, defending common goods, implementing agroecological processes, protecting markets and developing new ones, incorporating people into agricultural activity, and all of this within a comprehensive strategy which we share with all the (nearly 200) organizations that make up La Via Campesina. To this end we develop a common position on past and current threats, and outline future strategies and challenges, all of which we believe is well summarized in the Call of our 7th Conference, celebrated in Derio in the Basque Country in July 2017.

Food for Health Manifesto

By Renata Alleva, et. al. - Navdanya International, 2019

The Food for Health Manifesto aims to give voice, hope and future to all those who wish to commit themselves to act and consume in keeping with a new sustainable food for health paradigm. Additionally, this Manifesto is intended to be used as a tool to help mobilize the urgent transition to local, ecological and diversified food systems. The Manifesto asserts that health, starting with the soil, to plants, animals and humans must be the organizing principle and the aim of agriculture, commerce, science, of our lives and of international trade and aims to create convergence between consumers, producers and stakeholders for a common vision of sustainable development in line with the Millenium Development Goals.

Read the report (Link).

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