A European movement for Food Sovereignty
Discontented Europeans unite in Krems, Austria at an important event with the goal of achieving food sovereignty in Europe. "It is time for our forces to come to the fore and build a new way of organizing our food systems."
(Nyeleni 2011, The Process Towards the Forum)
Prompted by the first structural adjustment policies imposed by European governments and the “growing impossibility of a dignified livelihood in the European Countryside over the last few years”(Vivas, 2010), European social movements have united and responded with the first European Forum for Food Sovereignty. The Nyéléni European Forum for Food Sovereignty was held in Krems, Austria, Aug 16th-21st to start shaping a new food system. Named after the legendary Malian woman "Nyéléni", whose spirit inspired the International Food Sovereignty forum held in Mali in 2007, over 400 delegates from 34 European countries met at Nyéléni Europe 2011 for five days of intense, inspiring and positive exchange.
The forum consisted of members of many different social movements: farmers unions, food providers, consumers’ groups and environmental organisations from all over Europe. Many international observers were also present. The entire party was assisted by over 80 volunteers. The forum used a thorough methodology that was designed to enable full participation by all the delegates, especially women and youth, in developing consensus policy documents. The participants outlined in the declaration created at the forum the manner in which the current industrialised agricultural system powered by transnational food corporations completely fails to meet its obligations of producing healthy affordable food which benefits the people. Instead the current model relies on finite resources with little regard for sustainability, resulting in land loss and degradation, loss of livelihoods for thousands of land holders and the forced migration of workers. This current unsustainable and dysfunctional system is a core cause of global rural poverty.
The participants over the course of the forum attempted to articulate a regional plan for food sovereignty based on the very rights of people, the potential and the constraints of European territories, the need to cool the planet and to restore ecological services. In order to do this the forum planned to “identify critical issues that are aggravating the current unsustainable and inequitable food and agricultural system and propose viable solutions that would enable the realisation of food sovereignty and fairer societies in Europe and other regions of the world".
This forum is seen as a first step to a complete reorientation of current food and agricultural policies and as a platform to begin redesigning the current food system based on the principles of food sovereignty. For decades now, dissatisfaction at conditions for those involved in agriculture and food production has been growing and organisations had formed in many European countries but the culmination of these movements in this forum consolidates the gravity and urgency of this cause. According to the declaration the movement is committed to “working towards resilient food production systems which provide healthy and safe food for all people in Europe, while preserving biodiversity and natural resources and ensuring animal welfare”. Food and agriculture are the cornerstones of society and the forum came at a timely moment for offering radically alternative and concrete solutions from the people themselves.
The ideals behind this movement echo the goals and endeavours of the Agricultures Network and we support the efforts of those involved and salute the progress made at this important first forum for Europe in its nascent steps towards future Food Sovereignty.
- The process towards the forum
- Nyeleni 2011 Press Release: Building a food and agricultural system for the people by the people
- Nyeleni 2011 Declaration: Food sovereignty in Europe now!
- Nyeleni 2011 History: Nyeleni was a woman ...
- International Viewpoint: Food Sovereignty: Somethings moving in Europe by Esther Vivas 2010