The first thematic meetings are underway at the Nyéléni Europe Forum. About 150 people gathered in a cold wing of the Transilvania Expo to discuss achievements and challenges around access to land and natural resources in Europe.
Attendants split up in 9 different working groups to discuss three questions that will feed into the Thursday’s plenary session on the local, national and international policies that we want to target or influence.
Among the main achievements since 2011, participants mentioned the adoption of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests and the guidelines on Small-Scale Fisheries. The provisional EU ‘ban’ on GMOs is coined as another success. In general, many of the participants witnessed a clear growth in the European food sovereignty movement since the last forum in Krems.
On the question of what we want struggle against most, corporate capture and control over our resources and decision making processes were flagged by many presenters as the biggest threats to food sovereignty. Numerous contributions also featured trade agreements like TTIP and CETA and other mechanisms that prioritise the interests of corporations over people, animals and nature.
So what do we want to fight for then? Where do we see opportunities to advance our agenda towards food sovereignty? Here the need for public policies and more community control to facilitate access to land was mentioned, as well as the importance of getting our story across through the media and education. The reform of the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy was naturally brought up, while others stated that the local level could be equally important. Some of these issues will return in the plenary on policy convergence.
At the end of the workshop international delegates from Mali, Thailand, Jordan and Honduras had the opportunity to reflect on the discussion and pointed out that the struggle for food sovereignty is a common struggle with many similarities worldwide. Massa Koné from Mali: “We are here to protect our planet earth. We either fight or we betray future generations, this forum must come up with a concrete action plan.”