Building a food and agricultural system for the people by the people
Nyeleni Europe 2011, European Forum for Food Sovereignty
Krems, 16th - 21st August
Over 400 delegates from 34 Countries are meeting in Krems, Austria to shape a new food system. They are participating in the first European Forum for Food Sovereignty named after the legendary Malian woman "Nyéléni", whose spirit inspired the international food sovereignty forum held in Mali in 2007.
The Forum opened on Tuesday 16th August with Ibrahima Coulibaly, Malian farmer leader and organiser of the 2007 Nyéléni forum handing over the symbols of Nyéléni’s fertility and productivity - soil, seeds and water - to a European farmer leader Geneviéve Savigny.
Until next Sunday 21st August, the forum will provide a democratic and participatory space for debating, sharing experiences, building alliances and making collective proposals about what needs to be done to protect and promote healthy local food systems in Europe and other regions and how to reduce the damaging industrial food system.
The forum is being held in the midst of multiple social and financial crises, caused by an elite-driven, but much resisted, social and economic agenda, that is harming people and destabilising the region. Yet, more than 400 European delegates from 120 organizations are participating.
Participants come from 34 countries across Europe - from Albania to the UK, from Azerbaijan to Norway, from Portugal to Russia. They are assisted by 80 Austrian volunteers and 55 volunteer professional interpreters. International observers from Asia, Africa, Latin America and North America are also present to offer experience and political views and to get inspiration for their own struggles.
The Forum will identify critical issues that are aggravating the current unsustainable and inequitable food and agricultural system, will share good practices and will propose viable solutions that would enable the realisation of food sovereignty and fairer societies in Europe and other regions of the world.
The Forum is using a rigorous methodology that will allow full participation by all the delegates, especially women and youth, in developing consensus policy documents. These will address key themes including: Models of food production; Market/food chains; Social aspects and conditions of work; Access to land and other resources; and Public policies. The discussions are being organised by theme, European sub-region and sector (food providers, consumers, environmental and development NGOs, workers). They will provide a rich diversity of views that will enhance the Forum’s outputs: a declaration and a plan of action.
Food and agriculture are the cornerstones of society and the Forum comes at a timely moment for offering radically alternative and concrete solutions from the people themselves.