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Human Right to Food
By Christopher Carroll
May 27th, 2015
People who are concerned about climate disruption and hunger are talking more and more about agroecology, that is, using ecological, economic, cultural, and gender justice principles to inform agricultural practices and systems. And those people are joining Grassroots International and our global partners in advocating for a shift toward agroecology to create a more sustainable future.
By Carol Schachet
May 13th, 2015
Small-scale food producers and global movement leaders gathered in Mali earlier this year to lay out a plan to transform and repair our food system and the rural world that has been devastated by industrial food production. Their declaration (below) spells out specific values, strategies, challenges and next-steps to not only feed the world, but also address climate change by advancing agroecology.
Hosted by Grassroots International grantee CNOP (the National Coordination of Peasant Organizations) and La Via Campesina, among several other leading agroecology organziations, the International Forum on Agroecology outlined agroecology is a key form of resistance to the commodification of food and seeds, and moves toward a healthy planet.
Grassroots International recently participated in the 2015 Just Giving Conference sponsored by EDGE Funders Alliance. Entitled “Better. Not More: Towards a Just Transition,” the conference worked to create a space within philanthropy to explore the deeper philosophical ideas that animate contemporary politics, economy, and culture. Within this space, participants were encouraged to consider four goals for the transition to a just economy: 1) Decommodify nature; 2) Reimagine work; 3) Liberate knowledge; and 4) Democratize wealth.
We share planet Earth with nearly 7.3 billion people. By 2050, there will be 9.6 billion of us, according to the United Nations. That’s a gain of one person every 15 seconds—or about 74 million more people each year—and each another mouth to feed.
Some claim we need to increase world food production by 70 percent to avoid future shortages, especially in developing countries, where the greatest population increases are expected over the next 35 years. Are they right? It’s a question that many, including the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s Population Institute, are raising.
In August, five young men showed up at Soul Fire Farm, a sustainable farm near Albany, New York, where I work as educator and food justice coordinator. It was the first day of a new restorative justice program, in partnership with the county’s Department of Law. The teens had been convicted of theft, and, as an alternative to incarceration, chose this opportunity to earn money to pay back their victims while gaining farm skills. They looked wary and unprepared, with gleaming sneakers and averted eyes.
“I basically expected it to be like slavery, but it would be better than jail,” said a young man named Asan. “It was different though. We got paid and we got to bring food home. The farmers there are black like us, which I did not expect.
Grassroots International and our global partners are leading the way in developing sustainable solutions to the biggest challenges facing our world. From farming cooperatives and seed banks, to passing laws that protect ancestral lands and defending the human right to land, water, and food, together we take on big struggles and win important gains. Below are just some of the successes achieved in 2014 with support from Grassroots International, standing up to challenge poverty, climate disruption and human rights abuses.
Moving Towards an International Declaration on the Rights of Peasants
Below is part one of a three-part blog series highlighting the Brazil Agroecology Learning Exchange. Grassroots movement leaders and small farmer organizations sent representatives [24 people from 6 countries] to join Grassroots International staff in Goias, Brazil to participate in the eight-day exchange. The first of our series of blogs unpacks the phrase “Agroecology Learning Exchange” and why it is essential to creating a more sustainable food system.
Geraldo de Matos Barbosa and Maria Elena each had a dream when they joined the Landless Workers Movement (MST) 13 years ago. The couple has been part of the movement in Maranhão, Brazil including six years living in a dusty encampment, enduing six violent evictions before finally securing title to the land.
The process of shifting from an encampment (without buildings, electricity and sometimes even water) to a settlement helped make both their dreams come true. Grasssroots International's support for land rights in Brazil, including with the MST, provides much-needed solidarity and funding for the movement, and for the apsirations of the courageous individuals putting themselves on the front lines of the struggle.
Honduras is the country with the highest level of homicide of any nation not at war, where government violence and human rights abuses have almost total impunity. It is also the country contributing most of the flood of children who have been recently forced to migrate to the US, because of that violence and by poverty – both, in part, a legacy of US policy in the region.
Yet something else is afoot. A fierce social movement, composed of many sectors, is pushing back to protect democracy, lives, and political rights. Indigenous peoples, including Garifuna, Lenca, Pech, Miskito, Maya Chortí, and Tolupan, are asserting their human right to autonomy, territory, and cultural survival.
On October 15, 2014 Ali Abd El Rahman accepted the 2014 Food Sovereignty Prize on behalf of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC). UAWC shares the prize with Community to Community Development/Comunidad a Comunidad (C2C) of Bellingham, Washington.
UAWC is a Grassroots International partner and has been a leading force for the promotion of food sovereignty (not just food security) in Gaza and the West Bank.