Towards food sovereignty: reclaiming autonomous food systems

Article, 27 January 2010

‘Towards Food Sovereignty’ is an online book with full color photo illustrations and linked video and audio files. It describes the ecological basis of food and agriculture, the social and environmental costs of modern food systems, and the policy reversals needed to democratize food systems. The photos, video clips and audio recordings show farmers, pastoralists, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk, food workers and consumers all working to promote food sovereignty - highlighting the importance of locally controlled and diverse food systems to sustain both people and nature.

Towards Food Sovereingty

Table of contents


Chapter 1. Local food systems, livelihoods and environments
1.1. Food systems and livelihoods
1.2. The ecological basis of food systems

Chapter 2. The making of multiple crises in food, agriculture and environment
2.1. The social costs of modern food systems
2.2. The environmental costs of modern food systems

Chapter 3. Food sovereignty: a citizens’ vision of a better world
3.1. La Vía Campesina and the concept of food sovereignty
3.2. Food sovereignty: an alternative paradigm for food and agriculture
       Enabling national policies and legislation
       Enabling global multilateralism and international policies


Chapter 4. The role of local organisations in sustaining local food systems, livelihoods and the environment
4.1. Introduction
4.2. Local adaptive management of food-producing environments
       4.2.1. The use of sophisticated environmental indicators to track and respond to change
       4.2.2. The use of diversity to reduce risks and mitigate impacts of natural disasters and    long-term environmental change
4.3. Local organisations and people’s access to land and food
       4.3.1. Locally-developed rules for resource access and use
       4.3.2 Local organisations and access to land
       4.3.3. Local organisations regulating access to food
4.4. Nested organisations and the management of dynamic complexity
4.5. Federations, networks and organised policy influence
4.6. The need to strengthen local organisations for food sovereignty
       4.6.1. Beyond the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
       4.6.2. Beyond the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and international conservation
       4.6.3. Concluding remarks

PART III (Chap 5 - 9): TRANSFORMATION FOR FOOD SOVEREIGNTY (Chap. 5 and 7 available)


Chapter 5. Reclaiming citizenship: empowering civil society in policy-making (Download PDF)
5.1. Learning from history to re-invent active forms of citizenship
5.2. Building local organisations
5.3. Strengthening civil society
       5.3.1. Building upon synergies between the government and society
       5.3.2. Collaboration between local and external civil society actors
       5.3.2. Independent pathways from below
5.4. Methodologies for citizen participation in policy processes
5.5 Nurturing citizenship
       5.5.1. Learning to engage in high quality processes of deliberation and inclusion
       5.5.2. Ensuring safeguards for quality and validity
       5.5.3. Learning to expand information democracy

Chapter 6. Social inclusion and building countervailing power (Forthcoming)

Chapter 7. Transforming knowledge and ways of knowing (Download PDF)
7.1 Transforming knowledge
       7.1.1 Beyond reductionism and the neglect of dynamic complexity
       7.1.2 Overcoming myths about people and environment relations
       7.1.3 Decolonising economics
7.2 Transforming ways of knowing
       7.2.1 Inventing more democratic ways of knowing
       7.2.2 Re-enchanting the world through self-reflective and holistic ways of knowing
       7.2.3 Enabling contexts for social learning and action

Chapter 8. Agro-ecology and eco-literacy as a basis for the design of resilient food systems (Forthcoming)

Chapter 9. Deepening democracy and freedom from want (Forthcoming)

Conclusion: some final reflections


Remaining chapters and the fully referenced multimedia book will be published by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) in 2011.

Extracts from this book may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes without permission, provided full acknowledgement is given to the author and publisher as follows:

Michel Pimbert (2009). Towards food sovereignty: reclaiming autonomous food systems. IIED, London.

The publication of this book has been made possible through the generous support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS) of the Government of The Netherlands, the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), Irish Aid, Novib-OXFAM (The Netherlands) and The Christensen Fund.