Over half a year has passed since the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP26) whose sidelines witnessed unprecedented mobilisation around the key role that sustainable food systems should play in climate action (see for example the inspiring call of over 100 local and regional governments that committed to tackling the climate emergency through integrated food policies and called on national governments to act through the Glasgow Food & Climate Declaration).
In November 2021, the world was largely preoccupied with the COVID 19 pandemic which highlighted major vulnerabilities in our food systems.
Now the war between Ukraine and Russia sadly continues to expose the fragility of our dependency on global supply chains.
Everywhere in the world, the increase in the price of agricultural inputs, transport, and key food commodities is hampering citizens’ access to food. Those who were already suffering from other crises: the pandemic, climate change and war, are disproportionately affected.
Climate change is currently one of the greatest threats to human rights. Not only is it affecting our right to food, health, and an adequate standard of living, but it also affects food producers’ right to decent work which includes a fair income, security in the workplace, and social protection.
Our collective response to climate change must help respect, protect and fulfil these basic rights. It must therefore identify the potential unintended consequences that climate solutions might have on communities on the ground and make sure that no one is left behind.
Open dialogues are essential to bringing around the table actors who wouldn’t necessarily talk to each other but whose actions influence one another so that they can find ways to support and complement each other.
The concept for the Farm to Fork local dialogues was developed under the leadership of Nourish Scotland, a Scottish non-profit working for a fair, healthy and sustainable food system that truly values nature and people.
It stemmed from the realisation that the voices of farmers, particularly small-scale ones, have often been absent, not only from climate discussions but also from food policy debates.
The Fork to Farm dialogues aimed to turn current food dialogue practice on its head by putting farmers and cities in the driver’s seat and taking policy discussions out of government meeting rooms and moving it to the farms.
On the way to COP26, sixteen Farm to Fork local dialogues were organised in Wales, Scotland, Philippines, Peru, Nigeria, Tanzania, Mexico, Kenya, Ecuador, South Africa, and Belgium to help build trust between farmers and local policymakers. Rikolto facilitated the dialogues in Ecuador (both in Quito’s city region and in the coastal area in Manabí) and in Belgium (in Leuven and Antwerp’s city regions).
In Ecuador, these efforts were led by Carolina Salazar who joined Rikolto as a consultant facilitator and has since become a permanent member of Rikolto’s team, leading our Food Smart Cities programme in the country.
During the dialogues in Ecuador, access to water came out as a major concern for local producers, mostly women, who sell their produce to the markets of Quito. They live in a rural setting close to the city and produce food which is irrigated with tap water. Due to rapid urbanization, they can no longer access water from the river or other sources which is hurting their ability to make ends meet. Read their story in Carolina’s blog post below.
“We needed to create spaces for connections, spaces for different knowledges to meet, it wasn’t just about ‘let’s sit here and talk about the water problem’, but it was about, “let’s sit here and get to know each other.”-