Food sovereignty, Community Supported Agriculture & SSE
What are we talking about? What are the main challenges?
Farmers alone have been shouldering the risks of the increasingly ruthless global market, which has forced millions of them from the land. Peasant agriculture is constantly under threat from industrial agriculture, through massive global land-grabbing, Genetically Modified Organisams (GMOs) using techniques that can no longer be easily detected (CRISPR), and patenting of seeds by major seed companies. Industrial food contains pesticides, and is overly processed and sold cheaply in large hypermarkets owned by the same conglomerates that own the land, grow the food and process it. Healthy organic food is inaccessible for the socially excluded and in hypermarkets it is priced so only the wealthy can afford to buy it. Furthermore the food and agriculture industry ill-treats workers (often undocumented, living and working in conditions close to slavery), animals raised in CAFOs are prevently treated with anti-biotics and live in inhumane conditions for their short lives. Food scandals are increasingly common, and according to WHO it is only a matter of time before some serious disease will cross the animal/human barrier with dire consequences.
The food sovereignty movement was born in 1993, with the creation of the Via Campesina and the struggle to organise small-scale food producers and fight to remove food – a basic human right – from the WTO. The International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty was officially created in Rome in 2003, following the organisation in Rome of the Forum on Food Security in 1996 by the various constituencies of the social movements involved in food sovereignty (peasants, fishers, pastoralists, Indigenous Peoples…). The first forum for food sovereignty took place in Rome in 2002, and the Nyéléni Forum for Food Sovereignty was held in Mali in 2007. (More history available at: http://www.foodsovereignty.org/about-us/ )
Work on an intercontinental scale
Urgenci International Community Supported Agriculture Network is an international organisation that has been a full formal member of the RIPESS Board since September 2016, and member of RIPESS EU for many years. It is an international network of national and regional networks that represents almost 2 million producers and consumers globally, and is present in all continents of the world. CSA initiatives take many different forms in the various parts of the world (see CSA in the World), based on the social, historical, geopolitical, agricultural and economic specificities of each country or region where they have developed.
Currently URGENCI is the reference movement that orients RIPESS on an intercontinental level on food sovereignty issues, mainly on advocacy and policy actions, and also through the members of its network in each continent. RIPESS continental members have their own specific orientations regarding SSE & Food Sovereignty.
Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) is an example of an approach and movement built on two fundamental two fundamental pillars, food sovereignty and solidarity economy, making Urgenci, the global CSA network a natural member of RIPESS (www.urgenci.net)
Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) offers one of the most hopeful alternatives to the downward spiral described above, and is an alternative economic approach through Local Solidarity-based Partnerships between Producers and Consumers, that bring together citizens, small farmers, consumers, activists and concerned political actors at a global level. There are no intermediaries, so the price is highly affordable. It is based on the principles of agroecology.
Concrete actions that are carried out on an international scale are mainly focused on advocacy work, including:
- Participate to on-going policy working groups in the Civil Society Mechanism of the Committee on Food Security to collectively develop civil society positions that are aligned with whatever policy documents are being prepared in any given year on the topic. These positions are then negotiated with States to achieve the policy that is consensually voted on by the UN Committee on Food Security and Nutrition.
- Provide evidence-based research, facts and figures to substantiate our positions
- Participate in and make substantial input, together with the other social movements in the various bi-annual FAO consultations with civil society in the different regions through the Nyéléni process at global level
- Contribute together with RIPESS to the SDG implementation processes
- Ensure that food issues relative to solidarity economy are carried forward in the RIPESS work, and in the UN Inter-agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy.
Some interesting results
- Contribution to many policies, from Climate Change to Food Loss and Waste and Connecting Small-holders to Markets.
- Over the years, several URGENCI members have made major contributions by providing input to the work in the Civil Society Mechanism (CSM), with Shi Yan, currently Vice President of URGENCI having been designated as Respondent in a High Level Forum on Connecting. Smallholders to Markets. The CSM is a unique body within the UN constellation, where civil society, represented by all constituencies (peasants, fishers, pastoralists, Indigenous Peoples, Women, Youth, agricultural workers and consumers) plays an equal role with States in developing food-related policy.
- Contribution to the Habitat lll process and the drafting of the New Urban Agenda, to collectively ensure that there is some mention of solidarity economy and Community Land Trusts as a means of avoiding speculation on land, ensuring access to food and building territorial food systems.
- Participation in Expert Group Meetings at the UN in New York on SDG 2 prior to the HLPF in June 2017 and the Expert Group Meeting in New York on the New Urban Agenda and implementation of SDGs.
- CSA Charters in different continents (Europe, USA, Canada)
- Publication of mapping of CSA in Europe and of a book on Access to Land in Europe.
Some reference resources
Important Declarations :
- The European CSA Declaration (in English), but also in French, in Italian, in Spanish, in Magyar, in Czech, in Greek and Dutch.
- Nyéléni Declaration 2007
- The Nyeleni-Europe final Declaration (1st Forum, Krems – Austria, August 2011.)
- The Nyeleni Declaration on Agroecology (Feb 2015)
Reference Manuals :
- The European Handbook on CSA has been published as part of the Community Supported Agriculture for Europe project coordinated by Urgenci and conducted in 2011-2013 with 8 country partners. first collective work of Urgenci members!
- The “Be part of CSA!” Booklet is much more developed and aims at training CSA_to-be members to the basics of CSA community-building and wild adventure!
- Sharing the Harvest by Elizabeth Henderson (English and Spanish)
- The Resources webpage of the UK CSA Network
- Access to Land
Some additional resources from the Urgenci Website :
- Short films on CSA around the world
- Video (EN) on “Climate Justice and Community Supported Agriculture Judith Hitchman Urgenci France”
- Analytical guide of the Civil Society Group (EN)
- Judith Hitchman, “Advocacy, social movements, short distribution chains and policy: an illustrated analytical approach”, Urgenci Working Paper n°1, October 2014, 13 p.
- Why local food systems are the new sexy solutions to the the food system. Judith Hitchman 2017
Related reference Websites :
- Urgenci International
- Via Campesina
- Civil Society Mechanism (CSM)
- International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC)
- UN Committee on Food Security and Nutrition