By: Iris Beneš, Brod Ecological Society (BED), ICCA Consortium member and
Rodion Sulyandziga, Centre for Support of Indigenous Peoples of the North
More than 500 people from 40 countries – from Western through Eastern Europe to Central Asia– gathered in the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca at the end of October 2016. They met to discuss, share, exchange, analyze and propose policy changes on Food sovereignty issues at the European movement for food sovereignty Forum. Food sovereignty is the right of people to define their own food, agriculture, livestock and fisheries systems and policies, as advocated by farmers, peasants, pastoralists, fisherfolk, Indigenous Peoples, women, rural youth and environmental organisations. It was launched in 1996 by the international peasants’ movement La Via Campesina during the FAO World Food Summit in Rome and is continuously growing in the Pan-European region.
The forum gave special importance to the environmental and social aspects of current food systems and the way agroecological practices might cope with the shortcomings of industrialized agriculture and damaging neoliberal policies. At the meeting, volunteers translated most activities into seven different languages. There were stands filled with local food from a variety of nations, as well as music and culture, and educational materials on the stories and actions in the food sovereignty struggle. Everything was organized to highlight diversity as well as to express solidarity and unity in this fight.
Brod Ecological Society (BED), a Member of the ICCA Consortium, was present as a part of the Croatian delegation. They engaged in working groups mostly on common land and policy issues.
Russian indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East, jointly with the Saami people (Northern Europe), demonstrated a strong solidarity with all participants and shared their struggle for food security and to retain traditional knowledge.
All participants also expressed their strong support for the Standing Rock Dakota demonstration against the oil pipeline.
A new Cluj-Napoca document created an advanced platform for all stakeholders to protect and promote food security and the rights of nature and Mother Earth. Based on the outcomes of these sessions, the organising team defined six different groups of actions: 1. Land, water and fisheries in the hands of people, 2. Migrants, agriculture, food culture rights , 2. Peasants’ agroecology, 3. Alternative trade systems vs. global corporate power, 4. Territorial markets and food distribution systems, and 5. Common food and farming policies.