The Landworkers’ Alliance supports a model of change based in grassroots organising and social movements as drivers of social and political transformation. We believe in bringing people together to build collective power that can create practical and political solutions to the multiple crises we currently face. Solidarity and movement building across sectors and between social movements around the world is a cornerstone of this approach. This will only be possible by healing the impact of forms of oppression including colonialism, imperialism, racism, patriarchy, sexism, gender discriminatinon and classism. It is essential that this work is done here in the UK, and globally, through a process of restorative justice.
On the ground we work to build the social, economic and environmental elements of the solutions we want to see. This work is rooted in the principles of solidarity and mutual aid, which bring together people working to create solutions and develop pathways step by step, integrating elements of the future into the day to day of land-based work.
At the policy and governance level we work to develop and defend legal and policy instruments that protect and advance the changes necessary for the society we are building. Our policies are created by collective decision making of people who have direct lived experiences of both the challenges and solutions. We work to implement these changes and local, national and international levels.
Food Sovereignty underpins the vision and perspectives of our work. The framework of Food Sovereignty was drawn up by La Via Campesina and provides common ground to the positions of farmers and agricultural workers unions, and social movements around the world. Through the organisations that now make up the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty over 300 million food producers stand behind the vision of Food Sovereignty.
Having an agreement on the principles of Food Sovereignty gives us a coherent starting point from which to work. La Via Campesina define Food Sovereignty as:
“The right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts those who produce, process and consume healthy and local food at the heart of our agriculture and food systems, instead of the demands of market and transnational companies”.
La Via Campesina agree on 6 pillars of Food Sovereignty which we have adapted to reflect the UK context.
1. FOOD IS FOR PEOPLE
Agriculture should focus on producing food to feed people rather than as inputs for the global commodity market. This means guaranteeing the right to food to ensure that everybody, regardless of income, status or background, has secure access to enough nutritious, culturally appropriate, good food at all times.
2. FOOD PRODUCERS ARE VALUED
The people who produce and provide our food should be properly rewarded, protected and respected. This means decent living wages, secure contracts, fair representation and good working conditions for everyone involved in getting food from the field to our plates.
3. FOOD SYSTEMS ARE LOCALIZED
Good food should be easily accessible in both rural and urban areas, through numerous local outlets. This means local provision and short food supply chains should be prioritised over imports wherever possible. International trade should serve the rights of all people to safe, healthy and ecologically sustainable food production and ensure that we do not undermine the food sovereignty .
4. THERE IS DEMOCRATIC CONTROL OVER THE FOOD SYSTEM
Control over the resources to produce, distribute and access food should be in the hands of producers, communities and workers across the food system. Civil society should be at the centre of policy-making, with the power to shape the way the food system functions and influence the policies and practices needed to transition to a just food system.
5. WE BUILD KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS
The knowledge and skills needed to produce, process, distribute, and prepare food should be protected and invested in. The cultures of food producers and communities should be valued, including the ability to develop and pass on knowledge and skills to future generations.
6. OUR FOOD SYSTEM WORKS WITH NATURE
Food production and distribution systems should protect natural resources, reduce environmental impact and work in harmony with nature. Agroecology should be the basis for food production, where food is produced within the finite limits of our planet’s resources, protecting and respecting our environment and communities, and without compromising the ability of future generations to provide for themselves.
Agroecology is a framework for describing the knowledge and practices of food producers working in resilient and sustainable food and land-use systems. Agroecological farming and land management is place based, sustainable and deeply integrated with local ecology and environment.
The term was coined by social movements that situate it not just as a set of agricultural techniques but also within land-based cosmologies and within democratic social and political relationships. Agroecology is now recognized by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and provides a framework for ecologically, economically and socially regenerative agriculture systems and includes a wide range of farming techniques and scales.
The Landworkers’ Alliance uses agroecology as a framework for describing holistic ways of producing food, fuel and fiber that integrate sustainable food and resource production with environmental land management.
The right to food sees access to food as a public good and aims to protect the rights of everyone to live free from hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition regardless of their income or social status. This approach places the state as a guarantor of people’s right to food, obligated to ensure everybody has financial and geographical access to adequate, safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food, with dignity and choice now and in the future.
The Landworkers’ Alliance supports a rights-based approach to food as a legally defined framework to be built upon.
A Social Justice approach to the issues we work on highlights the unequal distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within society and focuses on challenging structural power inequalities to ensure that all people have access to the same rights and resources regardless of their income, identity or background.
Within this framework we use Environmental Justice to highlight the unequal distribution of environmental benefits and risks in peoples home and working lives and aim to equalise these factors whilst ensuring rights to land and resources. We use Food Justice to highlight the structural inequalities that cause food insecurity and hunger and aim to ensure that everyone has access to enough healthy, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food by challenging the power dynamics that create this marginalisation and creating alternatives based on equal access to rights and resources.
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