The time has come for a transformation of Europe’s food systems. Small-scale food producers, peasants, community groups, environmental justice activists and others have been calling for years for a shift towards agriculture that nourishes communities, regenerates ecosystems, and provides decent and sustainable livelihoods. The concept of agroecology encompasses these ambitions, referring to the science, movement, and practice of working with nature to build food sovereignty. The climate crisis and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have only made it clearer how urgent such a transformation is.
Land politics – who controls what land, how is it used, for how long, for what purposes and to whose benefit – is a central pillar of this debate. As politicians across Europe struggle to balance the urgent need for climate action with the need to strengthen equity and popular support for new policies, the risk of societal discord looms large, fuelled by farmer protests, perceptions of ‘agri-bashing,’ and long-running tensions between conservation movements and agricultural communities. This has been made more complicated by the interweaving of questions of land and national identity and an apparently increasing disconnect between those living in rural and urban areas.
Nyeleni Europe and Central Asia, Transnational Institute (TNI)
28 May 2020
The handbook is published by the Nyéléni Europe and Central Asia platform for Food Sovereignty to help nourish the food sovereignty movement with ideas that support local struggles for land. It also tries to connect different experiences and is an invitation to build collective intra-European support mechanisms for land struggles.
In both TTIP and CETA food, agriculture, animal husbandry and horticulture play a major role and the prospects for European farmers and consumers are not good. TTIP negotiators are discussing abolishing or lowering import tariffs for agricultural products and the mutual recognition of each others’ standards relating to environment, animal welfare, food safety and labour rights is on the agenda.
Effective state policies and investments in support of small scale food producers does not only provide a socially just alternative to a model based on foreign direct investment in agro-industries, but it is also a safeguard against land grabbing.