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OUR FOOD AS A COMMONS: Reframing the food narrative for a fair & sustainable transition

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OUR FOOD AS A COMMONS: Reframing the food narrative for a fair & sustainable transition

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Intervention at the European Parliament (12 Dec 2019) to propose a narrative change in the valuation, governance and allocation of food: from considering food as a commodity to be exclusively distributed through market mechanisms (only through purchasing power anyone can get access to food) to food as a human right, commons and public good (where food could be accessed through universal entitlements and market mechanisms). This change of narrative is based on the multiple non-monetary values of food (specially its essentialness to every human). This narrative differs from the current one: food as a pure commodity, such as screws, cement or TVs. The alternative value-based consideration of food is a pre-requisite to unlock other food policies, to redirect public subsidies and to enact laws based on the consideration of food as a human right. The consideration of food as a commodity is hegemonic within the corporate world and many governments, but it is not commonsensical within human beings.
Let's restore common sense to our food system. Let's value and govern food differently.

Intervention at the European Parliament (12 Dec 2019) to propose a narrative change in the valuation, governance and allocation of food: from considering food as a commodity to be exclusively distributed through market mechanisms (only through purchasing power anyone can get access to food) to food as a human right, commons and public good (where food could be accessed through universal entitlements and market mechanisms). This change of narrative is based on the multiple non-monetary values of food (specially its essentialness to every human). This narrative differs from the current one: food as a pure commodity, such as screws, cement or TVs. The alternative value-based consideration of food is a pre-requisite to unlock other food policies, to redirect public subsidies and to enact laws based on the consideration of food as a human right. The consideration of food as a commodity is hegemonic within the corporate world and many governments, but it is not commonsensical within human beings.
Let's restore common sense to our food system. Let's value and govern food differently.

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OUR FOOD AS A COMMONS: Reframing the food narrative for a fair & sustainable transition

  1. 1. OUR FOOD AS A COMMONS Reframing the food narrative for a fair & sustainable transition Dr. Jose Luis Vivero-Pol Right to Food Observatory, Spain
  2. 2. What is Food? Essential for survival (De Schutter & Pistor 2015) Societal determinant (Ellul 1990) Agent of power (Sumner 2011) Commodity (Siegel et al. 2016) Private Good (Samuelson 1954) Public Good (Akram-Lodhi 2013) Commons (Dalla Costa 2007) Human Right (UN 1999) Multiple meanings (Szymanski 2014)
  3. 3. Why food narratives matter? A NARRATIVE is a set of coherent assumptions and principles to communicate a certain worldview (Freibauer et al 2011) NARRATIVES: a) Define Problems, b) Causal relationships, c) Propose solutions, d) Moral Valuations (Ferree & Merrill 2000) People construct narratives to persuade other people Narratives become hegemonic (Gramsci 1971, Foucault 1993, Wallerstein 2016)
  4. 4. 1. Sustainable Intensification (science) 2. Green Growth (UN + Governments) 3. New Green Revolution (Corporate) 4. Climat-smart Agriculture (World Bank) 6. Green New Deal Clash of Narratives 5. Food Sovereignty
  5. 5. 5
  6. 6. If we waste one third of total food production AND humanity is proyected to increased just 20% (from 7.2 B in 2012 to 9 B in 2050), why do we need to increase production by 50-70%? Academia questioning the productivist narrative
  7. 7. “Loci of resistance” with other food narratives
  8. 8. The way we value food (narrative) conditions the set of policies, governing mechanisms and legal frameworks to be proposed in transition pathways
  9. 9. 1- Questioning “food as a commodity” 2- Industrial food system no longer valid for human needs within planetary boundaries 3- Alienation from food & food systems a.- Reconnecting b.- Embeddednes c.- Autonomy d.- Collective actions FOOD NARRATIVE 1
  10. 10. FROM FARM 2 FORK 2030 • Food is multi-dimensional & essential for humans • Does not define food as a human right • Goal: food systems that deliver sufficient, safe and affordable food (…as a commodity)…while leaving no one behind (no rights-based). • PROFITABILITY as key word (not in education or health) • Citizens as CONSUMERS only (not food citizens / eaters) • No different types of agriculture (industrial food system, small-scale farmers, agroecology) FOOD NARRATIVE 2
  11. 11. The dominant narrative in industrial food system “FOOD IS A COMMODITY” Market as the best allocation mechanism Low-cost Food System
  12. 12. • FOOD AS A COMMODITY pervades international negotiations • Food is not valued as a human right in SDGs route map • Adamant US position against Food as a human right • Timid/dual EU position: supporting RtF for others, doing nothing at home (Vivero-Pol & Schuftan, 2016) • US/EU posit that markets are far more efficient than rights-based schemes for food (purchasing power & charity guarantee access)
  13. 13. No Right to Food in EU • NOT in European Social Charter (1961, 1996) for Council of Europe members • NOT in EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (2000) • NOT in European Convention on Human Rights (1950 + 7 protocols) • NOT in any EU constitution
  14. 14. The Right to Food for “the others” (Global South & Developing Countries) • The Commission has expressed its support to ‘right to food-based political and legal frameworks’ in developing countries, as well as establishing and strengthening redressal mechanisms Source: Increasing the impact of EU Development Policy: an agenda for change. Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament. COM /2011/0637 Final. European Commission, 2011. • The European Parliament has taken a similar position regarding the relevance of the right to food to address food security challenges in developing countries Source: Assisting developing countries in addressing food security challenges. Resolution of 27 September 2011, (2010/2100). European Parliament, 2011.
  15. 15. 16 The actual way of producing & eating (western diets & industrial food system) is unsustainable It cannot be maintained for the next 50 years IAASTD (2008) UNEP (2009) UNCTAD (2013) UK Foresight (2011) IPES FOOD (2016)
  16. 16. The 8 food dimensions relevant to humans: multi-dimensional food as commons VS mono-dimensional food as commodity
  17. 17. 18 COMMONS Goods (material + immaterial) which are jointly developed by a community and shared according to community-defined rules (commoning) for the common good (Kostakis & Bauwens 2014)
  18. 18. Food as a commons means revalorising different dimensions relevant to human beings (value-in use) & reducing the commodity dimension (value-in exchange) 19
  19. 19. 20 Framing food differently will unlock unpermitted food policies… …and mobilise public funds for unfunded alternatives (customary & contemporary food commons)
  20. 20. ALTERNATIVE FOOD INITIATIVES Contemporary food commons (collective actions)
  21. 21. 22 Customary Food Commons (territories) 5% of Europe (12 M Ha agricultural area) More in coastal/forested areas 9% France 25% of Galicia is onwed in communal property Not just private-state duopoly
  22. 22. “Agroecology as the compass” How to go? What to do? “Food as human right and commons is the value-based narrative that holds the compass” Where to? Why? 23
  23. 23. 24 Reframing FOOD as a COMMONS and HUMAN RIGHT is already ongoing… John Maynard Keynes British economist (1883-1946) “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones” Marcel Proust French writer (1871-1922) “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands, but in seeing with new eyes”
  24. 24. POLICY & LEGAL OPTIONS with other narrative of Food 25
  25. 25. Social Market Enterprises Supply-demand Food as private good Public Private Collective actions Communities Reciprocity Food as common good Partner State Redistribution Citizens welfare Food as public good Tri-centric Governance of Food Commons Systems More Incentives & subsidies to collective actions Farmers as civil servants Banning food speculation Minimum free food for all citizens Local purchase Rights-based Food banks
  26. 26. To guarantee school meals for all students in public schools 27
  27. 27. To support local purchase (small farming, agro- ecology & cooperatives) to satisfy food needs of municipal premises 28
  28. 28. Stricter & innovative rules to avoid food waste To recycle all expired food (i.e. France) Supporting citizens´ collective actions to reduced waste, promote food sharing and co-producing 29
  29. 29. Shifting from charitable food (Food Banks) to food as right (Universal Food Coverage) A food bank network that is universal, accountable, compulsory and not voluntary, random, targeted 30
  30. 30. Compulsory rooftop greening for every new building (with edibles, non-edibles) 31
  31. 31. Establishing bakeries where every citizen can get access to a bread loaf every day (if needed or willing to) 32
  32. 32. Encourage Food Policy Councils (open membership to citizens) through participatory democracies, financial seed capital and enabling laws33
  33. 33. Set target for food provisioning in 2030 (Food Council) • 60% private sector • 25% self-production (collective actions) • 15% state-provisioning (public buildings, destitute people, unemployed families) through Universal Food Coverage 34
  34. 34. Communication by EP considering Nature and natural resources as Commons 35
  35. 35. Territories of Commons as legitimate alternatives: - Collective property (common lands) as recognized legal category - Commoning as valid governing mechanism 36
  36. 36. Food Commons & Agroecology are alternative pathways (people are opting for) 37
  37. 37. Territories of Commons • Climate adapted Food commons • Stewarding Nature & Biodiversity • Nurturing community, citizenship & values • Intergenerational sustainability • Public goods & services (oxygen, soil, wáter) • Participatory Governing Systems • Cultural Heritage & Collective Knowledge
  38. 38. Agro-ecology Climate Cooling Socially resilient 39
  39. 39. 40 Davis & Dixon (2012) Circa 3000 yrs exploited as a commons… Wether Hills, Northumberland (UK)
  40. 40. Montes Veciñais en man común Intergenerational sustainability, collective values, renewable energy (Galicia, Spain) http://www.lavozdegalicia.es/noticia/carballo/corcubion/2016/04/13/pleitos-montes-comunales- comarca-acumulan-anos-espera/0003_201604C13C1991.htm
  41. 41. La Partecipanza Agraria de Nonantola • Collective Ownership of Agricultural Land in Emilia Romagna • Almost 1000 years: Carta del 1058 dell’Abate Gotescalco, granting inhabitants of Nonantola the user´s rights over arable land within the municipal territory (now, 760 hectare) • Guiding values: Solidarity, Respect, Identity, Equality. • “Boccas” are raffled every 18 years within descendents still inhabiting Nonantola.
  42. 42. Cloughjordan Ecovillage Collective housing, nurturing community, sharing, cooperation (Ireland)
  43. 43. 44 In ARAGON (Autonomous Region) 300,000 ha governed by local communities & customary institutions TERRITORIES of COMMONS
  44. 44. Allemansrätten (The Everyman’s right) you can walk, run, hike, camp, swim, pick berries or mushrooms anywhere in privately owned and public land
  45. 45. Hazas de la Suerte Vejer de la Frontera (Spain) Two entitlements: cultivate & benefit Established 1288 by King Sancho IV 3500 hectare, 232 allotments, 13,000 inhabitants (raffles yrs per generations)
  46. 46. Croft lands (Scotland) http://www.c rofting.org/a boutus
  47. 47. Baldios (Portugal)
  48. 48. Cloughjordan Ecovillage (Ireland)
  49. 49. Water Tribunal of Valencia Huertas (one of oldest juridical institutions)
  50. 50. 51 Universita Agraria Medieval institution to govern collective lands (Sacrofano, Italy)
  51. 51. Transition Towns Resilience, cooperation, sustainability, fairness (UK, Europe, USA, Aust)
  52. 52. 56 Eager to exchange on food as a commons Many uncertainties & gaps remain to be developed in a common way combining praxis with normative social constructs @joselviveropol joseluisviveropol http://hambreyderechoshumanos.blogspot.com http://hungerpolitics.wordpress.com Jose Luis Vivero Pol joseluisvivero@gmail.com

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