Food Sovereignty

The concept of food sovereignty was coined by the international peasant movement ’Via Campesina’.
It was developed as a reaction to the official definition of ‘food security’, which simply refers to the amount of food that is available to the population of a country or a region. Food sovereignty goes beyond this, focusing on the way food is produced, consumed and distributed.
The IAASTD was the first intergovernmental, UN-led process to introduce and promote the concept of food sovereignty."Food sovereignty is defined as the right of peoples and sovereign states to democratically determine their own agricultural and food policies." (Global, p. 10)


Liberalisation of international trade threatens food sovereignty

Global trade has a significant influence on agricultural policies in many developing countries.
Rather than providing the population with food or promoting the development of domestic markets and rural areas, governments and local elites frequently try to generate foreign currency and tax revenue from agricultural exports.
Although their populations are suffering from hunger, many countries supply cheap raw materials to the animal feed, fibre, (bio)fuel and luxury food industry in the North, bringing both ecological and social costs. >>more

Facts & Figures

"Food sovereignty is 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, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations."

We work towards the decentralisation of food chains, promoting diversified markets based on solidarity and fair prices, and short supply chains and intensified relations between producers and consumers in local food webs to counter the expansion and power of supermarkets. We want to provide the building blocks for people to develop their own food distribution systems and allow farmers to produce and process food for their communities. This requires supportive food safety rules and local food infrastructure for smallholder farmers.

La Via Campesina is the international movement which coined the concept of food sovereignty. It brings together peasants, small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world. As of 2013, La Via Campesina comprises about 164 local and national organisations in 73 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas representing around 200 million farmers.

Food Sovereignty rejects corporate control. It "requires that women and men who provide food have control of land and resources such as water and seeds, to be used and shared in socially and environmentally sustainable ways. Privatisation of such resources, for example through intellectual property rights regimes or commercial contracts, is explicitly rejected."

"Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to define their own food and agriculture; to protect and regulate domestic agricultural production and trade in order to achieve sustainable development objectives; to determine the extent to which they want to be self reliant; to restrict the dumping of products in their markets, and; to provide local fisheries-based communities the priority in managing the use of and the rights to aquatic resources."

Civil Society

  • La Via Campesina International peasant movement that launched the idea of food sovereignty
  • European Coordination Via Campesina
  • USFSA US Food Sovereignty Alliance explains what food sovereignty is
  • GRAIN supports small-scale farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled food systems
  • EuropAfrica Towards Food Sovereignty
  • The Gaia Foundation is working with local communities to secure land, seed, food and water sovereignty
  • Friends of the Earth Interna- tional supports food sovereignty
  • Grassroots International helps smallholders and indigenous peoples to exercise the human rights to land, water and food
  • AFSA The Alliance For Food Sovereignty in Africa is a Pan African platform comprising networks and farmer organisations working in Africa
  • Nyeleni European Food Sovereignty Movement is the widest international network aiming to realise food sovereignty in Europe.
  • NFFC National Family Farm Coalition fights for food sovereignty
  • Food First support communities and movements fighting for food justice and food sovereignty
  • AFSA Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance has a blog on food sovereignty


Videos: Food Sovereignty

To watch playlist click on image
To watch playlist click on image

Clip: The EU Common Agricultural Policy and Food Sovereignty

Watch the film Seeds of Sovereignty


  • UNEP Land per CapitaUNEP Land per Capita
  • UNEP Agricultural land leasesUNEP Agricultural land leases
  • UNEP Population Income LevelUNEP Population Income Level
  • UNEP Population GrowthUNEP Population Growth
  • UNEP - Changes in food supplyUNEP - Changes in food supply
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Unterstützer von biovision Verlag der Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft e.V. Demeter Greenpeace Forum Umwelt und Entwicklung Eine Welt Stiftung Die Grünen, Europäische Freie Allianz Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst NABU - Naturschutzbund Deutschland e.V. Misereor Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft in der GLS Treuhand Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft in der GLS Treuhand
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