A light shining on Cluj – Nyeleni Europe Forum for Food Sovereignty

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Participants discuss strategies to advance food sovereignty in Europe

Last week the second Nyeleni Europe forum for Food Sovereignty was held in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. The Forum brought together different delegations from European countries and beyond representing producers, consumers, NGOs and researchers involved in the Food Sovereignty movement. The Forum set out create new initiatives and ties among people in opposition to the dominant food paradigm.

A strong emphasis was given to the environmental and social aspects of current food systems and how agroecological practices could cope with the shortcomings derived with solidarity and ecological sound solutions. Translated into multiple languages, the Forum was organized to highlight people’s diversity and cultures.

The Forum started with very inspiring interventions from representatives of different grassroots organizations who stressed the importance of changing our food systems. The five day Forum was divided into four thematic topics:

  1. production and consumption,
  2. distribution,
  3. work and social conditions,
  4. natural resources and commons, and
  5. public policies.

On the first day, the 700 participants divided into groups to address issues related to these themes, focussing on identifying recent achievements and future opportunities. In these thematic groups participants noticed a growth of the European food sovereignty movement, notably in terms of the growth of initiatives such as CSAs. They also recognised new challenges such as the lack of infrastructures for communities food processing and the need to overcome existing obstructive policies and new trade agreements such as TTIP and CETA.

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Romania women welcome us to their village with a shot of Palinka

The outcomes of these sessions were further discussed in sessions dedicated to policy convergence at the local, national, European and global levels. Within these discussions on policy convergence, working groups identified important policies, policy spaces and principles for engagement, while also highlighting successful initiatives to take inspiration from.

Based on the outcomes of these sessions the organising team defined six different groups of actions:

  1. Land, water and fisheries in the hands of people;
  2. Migrants, agriculture, food culture rights;
  3. Peasants’ agroecology;
  4. Alternative trade systems vs. global corporate power;
  5. Territorial markets and food distribution systems;
  6. Common food and farming policies.

Within such groups the participants were encouraged to come up with action points and campaigns to bring forward after the forum. Among the outcomes, participants discussed the development of a pan European campaign to contrast supermarket power by occupying supermarkets but also sensitizing customers and proposing local alternatives. It was also discussed the creation of a network of progressive retailers that would, based on shared values, map European alternative retailers and facilitate the interchange of information perhaps leading to gain more power, visibility and legitimacy.

Within the Forum there were also several excursions where it was possible to visit local peasant communities. Throughout the forum, there was also time set aside for open spaces where participants could propose their own programme.

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Romanian shepherd. His livelihood depends on accessing common pasture lands that surround the village.

The Forum was very intense but inspiring and we were treated to traditional meals cooked and served by volunteers from a cooking collective.

The Forum saw many people coming together from different background bringing many successful examples and willingness to change our food systems. This generated vibrant discussions and space for future initiatives. The website nyelenieurope.net provides links, initiatives and last developments about the European Food Sovereignty movement. Keep tuned for more info to come.

Alberto Serra – alberto.serra(a)wur.nl

This entry was posted in Agriculture, Food, Regional Development, RSO-student, Rural Development by foodgovernance. Bookmark the permalink.

About foodgovernance

Jessica Duncan is Assistant Professor in the Rural Sociology Group at Wageningen University. Originally from Canada, she lived in France, Spain and the UK before coming to the Netherlands. She holds a PhD in Food Policy from City University London and is the author of the book Global Food Security Governance: Civil society engagement in the reformed Committee on World Food Security (Routledge, 2015, http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9781138802520/ ). Her research areas include: food policy; food security; global governance; environmental policy; participation; rural sociology. She is particularly interested in transitions towards environmentally sustainable food security governance.

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