Carbon trading, or the trading of permits to pollute, is a market-based approach for reducing carbon emissions which is deeply flawed, ineffective and unjust. Seeking to turn carbon in the atmosphere into a privatised commodity has created markets susceptible to corporate pressure, distracted from the systemic changes needed to convert our economies, and inflicted injustices on marginalised communities in North that become trapped in pollution hotspots and peasant communities in the South who have been dispossessed of land and livelihoods in the name of climate action.
Research and analysis from activists and scholars working to understand and halt the alarming trend in “land grabbing” and to support rural and urban communities in their efforts to protect their lands as the basis for self-determination, food justice and food sovereignty. The series is a project of the Land & Sovereignty in the Americas (LSA) activist-researcher collective, coordinated by Food First.
Elizabeth Mpofu, General Coordinator of La Via Campesina, shares the perspective of global peasants. She emphasizes that peasants are an organized movement, not merely resisting but working to build a new world through the idea of Food Sovereignty and opens the floor for dialogue between the peasants of the world and academics and activists committed to solidarity with them.
Malik Yakini introduces the audience to the current situation in Detroit and his organization’s work building capacity, community empowerment, and democracy through a variety of food programs. He also emphasizes the centrality of issues of race both in the broader context and within the Food Sovereignty movement.
Blain Snipstal, returning generation peasant farmer and leader in La Via Campesina North America discusses the need to engage emotionally with Food Sovereignty, as part of a movement for re-peasantization and revalorizing marginalized knowledge, not merely as an abstract intellectual concept.
James Scott, co-director of Yale Agrarian Studies Program, talks of how the secure access to food is a pre-condition to all other human rights. Without secure access to food people will allow encroachment of their rights by the people who do control food.
Martha Jane Robbins offers feedback on key papers, including Kloppenberg and Bernstein’s, from the perspective of La Via Campesina, drawing attention to the deliberate political usage of terms like “Food Sovereignty” and “peasant” as framing concepts for political organizing.
Mamadou Goita, of ROPPA , the West African Farmers Alliance, highlights the need for an interdisciplinary approach to Food Sovereignty that takes seriously political and practical, as well as conceptual, aspects of the term.
Phil Woodhouse, of the University of Manchester, discusses the relationship between consumers and producers of food. He highlights key tensions around the price of food, arguing that the productivity of agricultural labour is fundamentally related to the price of food and asks, “how does Food Sovereignty address the issue of the price of food and the potential conflict between producers and consumers?”.
Susan George gives a perspective on what has and has not changed in the global food movement in the last decades, drawing out universal themes while emphasizing the vital significance of new issues like the financialization of agricultural.
Tania Li, of the University of Toronto, asks about communities who do not see themselves as part of the Food Sovereignty movement. She uses the case of a community in Central Sulawesi to highlight how the core elements of Food Sovereignty do not necessarily cohere together, and argues for the importance of addressing these kinds of places, that challenge embedded assumptions of the movement.
Bridget O’Laughlin, former professor of development studies at ISS and an editor of the Journal of Development and Change, suggests that Food Sovereignty cannot be an analytical framework, and that that is not a problem. She offers a vision of the role of intellectuals within the movement: addressing ambiguities, questioning assumptions, and identifying gaps that need research.
Sofia Monsalve discusses nutrition and gender, addressing the significance rights-based frameworks. At the same time she raises problems with the current international implementation of the right to adequate nutrition as it applies to girls and women and emphasizes the need to discuss issues like social policy, labour, and income.
Teodor Shanin, president of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences and Professor Emeritus at the University of Manchester discusses the significance of a historical perspective for understanding the global peasants’ movement La Via Campesina.
Bina Agarawal discusses potential contradictions between key elements of food sovereignty, efforts to achieve global food security, and the importance of democratic choice by farmers, using case studies to highlight ways in which farmers’ democratic choice may come into conflict with other aspects of Food Sovereignty’s vision.
Paul Nicholson, farmer from the Basque Country and founding member of La Via Campesina, highlights challenges for the movement today, stressing that LVC is not a static entity or an academic concept, but a bottom-up, dynamic, diverse movement, and an evolving alternative vision of life being presented by peasants to the rest of society.
Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, discusses the 20 year history of the Food Sovereignty movement. Behind the diversity of grassroots initiatives that make up the second generation of food sovereignty activism there is a deep convergence in ideals and a shared analysis of the problems with and alternatives to the current dominant global food system.
Jan Douwe van der Ploeg highlights the centrality of peasant agriculture to Food Sovereignty and tackles the question of whether peasant production can feed a global population of 9-10 billion. He draws on Chayanov’s agrarian economics to illuminate strengths and possibilities of peasant agriculture.