RIPESS had the great opportunity to participate in the Nyeleni Global Forum Preparation Meeting in Rome, last 10-11, June 2023. The purpose of this meeting was to include in the food sovereignty process and structure social movements that are close to the concept and values of food sovereignty/agroecology with different origins and backgrounds. The meeting was a participatory quest among the existing alliance and potential new members, supporters and by-standers organisations.
Movements that are nourishing and taking care of the Nyeleni process are Via Campesina, Urgenci, Habitat International Coalition, World Forum of Fisher Peoples; they met with representatives from the Friends of the Earth International, TNI – Transnational Institute, FIAN International, People’s Health Movement, ETC Group and RIPESS. The meeting was an important milestone for the Nyeleni process since it marked an opening and inclusivity for the struggle and the general cause. Very often the phrase that was coming to everyone’s lips was “one struggle, many voices”. These voices from all over the world were invited to discuss the most important question of the meeting: How do we see our contribution/input to the Nyeleni process and food sovereignty movement?
After this meeting, RIPESS was invited to participate as a permanent member in the Steering committee of this process.
Dražen Šimleša, RIPESS representative within this committee, one of the European coordinators as well as part of the Croatian Green Network of Activist Group (ZMAG), an association that brings together organic gardeners, practitioners of applicable technologies and eco-building, permaculture designers, researchers of equitable social models of organization and equal interpersonal relationships, and environmental activists; tells us about this process.
Dražen represented us last June 2023 in Rome, together with RIPESS Intercontinental co-coordinator Judith Hitchman and he is bringing to this conglomerate, now permanently, the intersections amongst Social Solidarity Economy, Agroecology and Food Sovereignity.
Which would you say are the links amongst these two systemic alternatives?
The Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy (RIPESS Int.) doesn’t envisage a real and alive social solidarity economy (SSE) without food sovereignty and vice versa—our constituencies are inseparable and mutually supportive. We are standing on the position that today polycrises are rooted in the rules and design of today’s economic system. That is why we support transformative potentials in the global struggle for a better world. The area in which this growth obsessed, destructive economy and political system is the most visible is our food sector. We can see it from the position of small farmers and women in rural areas over the situation involving soil and biodiversity, to public health and monopolisation of the food sector. That is why work on food sovereignty and agroecology is important for a social solidarity economy. We see our movements as streams of the same river, as parts of the same ecosystem.
Which would you say are the challenges our network will face in pushing forward this work?
We will continue to work on solidarity within our societies and the needed transformation of the neoliberal capitalist economy that is endangering the planet, small food producers, women, minorities, and all other groups that are not running the profit-above-all agenda. RIPESS Int. can also provide support for building capacities and knowledge with education activities and training on SSE and FS.
Which opportunities do you think Nyéléni is bringing?
Within the SSE constituency we are already working on many crossing points and overlapping areas. Our members are active in the promotion and implementation of territorial food systems, collective farms/farm shops (small local cooperatives), collective/shared food production and processing, territorial public procurement, preservation of the Commons (land, water, seeds, etc.), producer/consumer solidarity with shared risks and benefits, and general improvement of health. In those areas, among others, we can see the connection between SSE and FS. Our input can be seen through highlighting the above mentioned close related programs, projects and activities.
Which are RIPESS first goals within the committee?
RIPESS participates in the Nyeleni Steering Committe with other movements: workers/unions, environmental, health, women, small fishermen etc. It is clear from the composition of the Steering Committee how it will have a political role, in a way to support food sovereignty and small farmers from each progressive movement’s streams. For RIPESS this is a natural position since we are already working on the connection between SSE and food sovereignty since many of our members are active on this overlapping area. For us it is important to keep alive and strengthen connectivity between local small farmers and active citizens, solidarity consumers because without this bridge we both worlds will lose. So, this would be our first goals with keeping in mind the main goal of this alliance, which is that we are working all together in the Steering Committee.