Food Sovereignty

Cooper Institute's Commitment to Food Sovereignty

Cooper Institute is committed to education and action to promote food sovereignty.

Cooper Institute identifies with the Declaration of Nyéléni, resulting from the Forum for Food Sovereignty in Mali in 2007. The forum was made up of about 500 representatives from more than 80 countries, of organizations of peasants, family farmers, artisanal fishers, indigenous peoples, landless peoples, rural workers, migrants, pastoralists, forest communities, women, youth, consumers and environmental and urban movements.

What is Food Sovereignty?

The international peasants' movement La Via Campesina proposed the concept of Food Sovereignty at the World Food Summit in 1996. In its broadest sense Food Sovereignty is about the right of nations and peoples to control their own food systems, including their own markets and methods of production. It provides an alternative to current models that treat food as a commodity to be traded for the benefit of large corporate interests.

The terms food security and food sovereignty are sometimes confused or used interchangeably. The basic concept of food security – ensuring that all people have access to healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate food – is included in the definition of food sovereignty. Most organizations working on food security would accept that their work goes beyond advocating for the right of all people to sufficient food – they would also see as their responsibility the promotion of sustainable production and distribution methods, fair compensation for food producers and transparent trade agreements.

Food sovereignty builds on the concept of food security, with the recognition of the right of food producers and harvesters to manage lands, territories, waters, seeds, and livestock.

Even more fundamentally, Food Sovereignty implies new social relations free of oppression and inequality between men and women, peoples, social and economic classes and generations.

From the brochure describing food sovereignty, produced in 2012 by Cooper Institute in collaboration with members of the National Farmers Union in PEI.