Proposal of contribution by Judith Hitchman, Urgenci

Food and agricultural production account for approximately 25% of greenhouse gas emissions, and are thus a significant factor that contributes of the climate crisis. Yet food is a human right, and also central to the survival of the human race.

This paradox is essentially caused by the commodification and industrialisation of food production and distribution. As multiple reports now confirm, the food system is broken at global level, and fails to fulfil its main mission, that of feeding the world with healthy nutritious food based on equity and food justice.

Yet all the solutions already exist. FAO has recognized agroecology as an important pillar for the sustainable transformation of food systems. Peasant agroecology provides us with the means to produce more nutrient-dense food in sustainable local food systems. Agroecology is essential to the construction of a social Europe, as it reaches beyond mere production of food to build solidarity economic territorial food systems that change how seeds, land, soil and the human dimension of solidarity-based economic systems can function together in harmony, and provide food justice as well as ecological justice. This is the essential bridge between food sovereignty and solidarity economy. it is underpinned by agroecological practices at all levels, and is a holistic and systemic approach to our agricultural and food systems. And is also totally aligned with the SDGs and the links between them…

The Farm to Fork policy and the future Sustainable Food Systems law are part of this essential change. But to date there is no over-arching economic recognition for the need to bring consumption and production together in a new dynamic and systemic manner. The concept of “cheap food”, anchored in unsustainable economic practices where the standards of Decent Work of the ILO are all too often disrespected, and real costs outsourced are still too often the norm. Migrant workers, contract farming and other practices leave producers unable to earn a decent wage, and in spite of front of pack labelling in supermarkets, too much industrially produced food contains harmful substances such as pesticides, weed-killers and chemical fertilisers. Additionally, new genomic techniques, if introduced, would represent a move further way from the higher nutritious value and preservation of agrobiodiversity of peasant agriculture.

Agroecology thus represents not only a healthier solution in terms of consumption of foods produced – and an estimated reduction to health costs caused by NCDs and cancer caused by industrial foods – it represents a very significant reduction in greenhouse gas. It is thus part of the much needed response to the climate crisis. We need to address these aspects through the real solutions that exist in the solidarity economy movement: Community Supported Agriculture, local small-scale farmers cooperatives and cooperative shops, local authentic farmers markets, Open Food Network as well as the work of Local Government with low income groups to provide access to fresh local fruit and vegetables (often through CSAs)… All these aspects require recognition and support through the broad framework of Social Europe.

The speakers will include:

Isa Alvarez, president of Urgenci, the global Community Supported Agriculture Network. Isa is a practitioner and lecturer in agroecology and solidarity economy.

Tomaso Ferrando, Professor University of Antwerp. Tomaso focuses on the links between law and food systems.

Filipa Ferraz, coordinator of the Open Food Network Ireland

Giulia Tarisitano, food policy manager, Eurocoop, the European Community of Consumer Coops, Brussels

Monika Onyszkiewicz, director of Eco Org Foundation, Poland

Paula Gioia, European Coordination, Via Campesina

Moderator, Judith Hitchman, Urgenci International Community Supported Agriculture Network and joint co-ordinator of RIPESS Intercontinental Network.

Ideally this will be a virtual Zoom workshop to avoid increasing our carbon footprint.

There will be interpretation into English, French and Spanish.