Reflections on food systems and justice – CIDSE

Reflections on food systems and justice

Interview with Josianne Gauthier, CIDSE Secretary General 

The United Nations Food Systems pre-summit will take place next week (26-28 July). It will be an important gathering to set the tone before the global event in September, which will aim to “launch bold new actions to deliver progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, each of which relies to some degree on healthier, more sustainable and equitable food systems”. 

However, hundreds of grassroots organisations are opposing the Food Systems Summit accusing it of being disproportionately influenced by corporate actors, and lacking transparency and accountability mechanisms. CIDSE supports this position. On this occasion, its Secretary General, Josianne Gauthier shares some thoughts on food systems and justice. Her interview will also be part of a global virtual rally [#FoodSystems4People”] with small-scale food producers and people’s voices organized by the Civil Society and Indigenous People’s Mechanism for relations with the UN Committee on World Food Security (CSM).  

You can see the full interview here and read the transcript :

Interview with Josianne Gauthier

What would be a right food system for you?   

The current Food system, unfortunately, is seen as a business.  Food is seen as a commodity, as an object for profit, a merchandise, and this is the fundamental flaw of the food system as it cannot ensure that food is guaranteed and seen as a right. The whole logic has to change, food systems should be based on justice and be focused on people and not on markets. For this to happen, social justice as a whole has to be integrated into the food system, as well as climate justice, intergenerational justice, gender equality, racial equality. These elements would ensure that people’s voices be put first and the planet be respected.   

What is the role of corporations in the transformation of food systems? 

The current Food System is very much run by corporations, and private interests tend to come before common good. This is already a fundamental flaw and a challenge. Corporations are always going to be present, they are part of our economic model, our economic system; we are in this relationship with them. However, they should not have the last word on where food should go, how it’s grown, who is grown by, where it goes, how it’s distributed. There should be higher participation, creating space for people, for communities to have a voice in the food system. This would be important to counter some of the corporate capture. Another element is having to instruments to watch out for human rights abuses that happen from the corporate level. For instance, corporate due diligence laws and human rights protection are all guarantees that have to be put in place to make sure that the corporate capture is not the dominating.   

What should be the role of women in framing new food systems?   

As in many of the current systems that are in place, gender inequality is just about everywhere, and it’s particularly true in the food system, particularly because in agriculture areas, women have less access to land or less land rights. The legal framework could be improved in a lot of certain situations to guarantee that there is equality. Furthermore, women’s voices have to be heard, with their suggestions, their success stories; not just as victims or as beneficiaries but actors, true change makers in this process. And they have stories to tell, so it’s about creatin that space and honoring that and from a broader social justice perspective.   

Is agroecology a viable alternative to put forward?   

Agroecology is based on traditional knowledge of the land, knowledge of the seasons, of the cycle of life. There’s a lot of wisdom and science behind it. It’s also a very integral approach, because it takes in consideration the rights of the community, the common good, the intergenerational justice element, the rights of women, the rights of indigenous people. There’s also better respect for biodiversity in that model, so it really needs to be explored much more. It needs to be given a lot more attention, and more financing as well. It deserves more research around it and more space, because agroecology is a real and incredible solution, and it’s working. It’s feeding people, so the only blockage we can see it’s that there are interests against it. It’s not the common interest that is dominating; if agroecology was put forward, we will be thinking more in a perspective of social justice and common good. 

Video about the counter-mobilization:

Picture: “Women show their agricultural products” by World Bank Photo Collection is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


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