Charter of Human Responsibilities
www.alliance21.org > Workgroups > Socioprofessional Networks > Farmers

World Forum on Food Sovereignty
Havana, Cuba, from the 3rd to the 7th September 2001

by Pierre William Johnson - Pierre Vuarin -

The FAO is beginning to put together an appraisal of the last five years for the next international meeting, taking place in November. Today, it has been estimated that the commitments made at the last World Food Summit, held in Rome in 1996, for a fifty percent reduction by 2015 in the number of people permanently suffering from famine, will not be achieved, and already 2030 is being spoken of as the horizon for such an objective. Furthermore, food continues to be used as a political and economic tool for the submission of populations. With this highly disturbing situation in mind, the first Global Forum on Food Sovereignty has designated the principles and strategies for a relevant response.

During the last few years, political and non-governmental organisations, religious institutions and governments have expressed their worries about problems linked to famine and poverty throughout the world. During the World Social Forum at Porto Alegre, in January 2001, the organisation of a World Forum on Food Sovereignty (W.F.F.S.) was confirmed for September, a project on which many organisations across the world had been working for a long time.

This Forum was held over one week in Cuba, a country where action in the area of food sovereignty, nutrition and health sets an example in the current context.It brought together almost 400 people who came from more than 60 countries and this represented more than 200 organisations, with a good repartition between different sectors and origins, fishing, agriculture, consumers, ecologists, nutritionists, NGOs and technicians.

Their objective was to analyse the processes that impede food sovereignty, to denounce the use of food as a political and economic instrument for the submission of populations, to share experiences and to present proposals aimed at counteracting the challenges posed by dominant neo-liberal politics. This objective was by and large attained if one considers the strength and breadth of the debates and exchanges that arose during the event. Even more so if one knows that the event was preceded, several days beforehand, by international meetings of agriculturalists on one hand and fishers on the other, and that it stated for the first time the principle of an alliance between these two sectors sharing similar situations and the same responsibility in respect of the food question.

The accounts of important players in the field in relation to the themes debated inspired the participants: Egidio Brunetto, representative of the Movement of Landless Rural Workers from Brazil, took over from José Bové on the Confederation Paysanne (Confederation of Domestic Farmers), Nina Pacari for the National Indigenous Confederation from Ecuador. The Vietnamese, African, Chinese, and Cuban experiences were also recalled by some of their operators. More general presentations made by researches working in relation with agents in the field contributed to a widening of the forum’s themes, which were fully debated in workshops during the afternoon. The small scale farmers and traditional fishermen/women became aware that, despite the diversity in their working methods and environment in which they carry it out, they share a number of situations and problems that have a strong resemblance to each other (threat of privatisation, and the destruction of the collective goods comprising the sea and the earth, greater productivity and the impact of production on food sovereignty on the small and medium scale).

" We understand food sovereignty to be the right of populations to define their own sustainable politics and strategies of production, the distribution and consumption of foods that guarantee the right of access to food for the whole population, on a basis of small or medium scale production, whilst respecting their own cultures and the diversity of models of domestic farming, fishing and indigenous agricultural production, commercialisation and administration of rural areas, in which women play a fundamental role. "

Extract from the Final declaration of the WFFS

Thus a great achievement of this forum was to provide a concrete definition to the content and issues of food sovereignty (see definition above) and to show the central role that this idea should play in all future discussions about commercial, agricultural and nutritional politics, agricultural production systems or fish farming and the privatisation of the living and GMOs. After having been fully debated and illustrated by relevant experiences following the work themes of the forum, these issues were translated into the demands and strategies developed in the final declaration, which should become a document of utmost importance in all future debate about food sovereignty and nutritional security.

Download the Declaration

URL : www.alliance21.org/2003/article2524.html
PUBLICATION DATE: 10 September 2001