Food Sovereignty

Food sovereignty calls for the development of local and regional self-sufficiency and if possible close links between producers and consumers. However, the concept has nothing to do with autarchy (self-sufficiency) in the sense of a political doctrine."Food sovereignty has a broader dimension, since it incorporates issues such as agrarian reform, territorial control, local markets, biodiversity, autonomy, cooperation, debt and health, all of which have to do with local food production. (…) For civil society, food sovereignty, as a different paradigm, is needed to ensure that the developing countries can attain food security, rural employment and the goals of sustainable development. For the developing countries, food sovereignty encompasses the demand that the World Trade Organization (WTO) put an end to its control over food and agriculture. Food sovereignty basically recognizes that small farmers and landless peasants will never be able to compete in the entrepreneurial agricultural paradigm." (Latin America and the Caribbean, p. 20)When the IAASTD promoted and integrated the “unscientific” concept of food sovereignty in 2008 because it goes beyond conventional concepts of food security, it received a lot of criticism. Since then, the term was gradually acknowledged at official level. In 2013, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, José Graziano da Silva, signed a cooperation agreement with La Via Campesina with the aim of developing joint concepts of food sovereignty during the International Year of Family Farming 2014.

Food sovereignty as a symbol of urban modernity

Food sovereignty has long since become a concept of self-determination also in industrialised nations and in the cities. Also in this context, it is a matter of “decolonisation” and of actively changing the relationship with the concentrated economic and communicative power of food corporations and retail chains. For many people in the cities, especially the young generation, cooking has already become an act of emancipation. Vegan or vegetarian meals; fair, local and organic food, as well as the use of products which are considered waste have turned into a symbol. There are many diverse forms of expression in the search for food sovereignty. City dwellers take the cultivation of vegetables into their own hands again, in community, school and neighbourhood gardens or intercultural gardening projects. Urban apiculture is on the rise, food cooperatives have been formed and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) allows consumers to directly support the production of food with their own money as well their active involvement in the work. This is all about self-fulfilment and overcoming a sense of alienation, but it is also an expression of the old wisdom that eating is always a political act.

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 biggest international network working 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

Click on the image to watch the playlist

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
Share |


Donors of globalagriculture Bread for all biovision Bread for the World Misereor Heidehof Stiftung Hilfswerk der Evangelischen Kirchen Schweiz Rapunzel
English versionDeutsche VersionDeutsche Version