The Food and Agriculture Organisation and the Social and Solidarity-based Economy

Background paper written at the request of the members of the Coordinating Committee of the Civil Society Mechanism of the Committee for Food Security and others present at the Budapest meeting in December 2011

Judith Hitchman, 2012

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Résumé :

The Food Sovereignty movement, arguably the most powerful social movement of our times, is seeking to address these multiple challenges in diverse ways. The work of the food sovereignty movement to diversify, democratise, decentralise and distribute goods and services more fairly is arguably the most significant and vibrant expression of the emerging solidarity economy movement around the world. By necessity, resistance to the policies, powers and principalities that seek to reinforce corporate control of the food system are one strategic component of the agenda.

There is an agreed need to establish alternative systems and distribution to overcome resource grabbing and guarantee access to sustainable healthy food for urban and rural poor alike. Many of the potential answers lie in the scope of the social and solidarity economy.

This brief background paper was requested to examine the social and solidarity economy movement. It tries to address the following questions: What is solidarity economy, and how does it fit together with food sovereignty? What are the specific components of the social and solidarity economy that are shared with food sovereignty and those that complement it? How can solidarity economy be scaled up at global level? If we want to facilitate the creation and consolidation of alternative food systems - and indeed the economy in general - we need to devise a series of actions and policies that have implications for different aspects our lives, and that connect the different dimensions of society and economy. What is important however is to consider that there are a lot of initiatives that concretely act to build a different economy from the mainstream market economy, and that they place the needs of the communities are in the centre of their concerns.