I Food Sovereignty Forum in Poland

Inspired by the international Nyéléni gatherings organized for over ten years, Nyéléni Poland decided to organize a countrywide Food Sovereignty Forum in January 2018 in Warsaw. The meeting is an opportunity for Polish organisations, grassroots initiatives and social movements interested the issues of food sovereignty to meet and discuss common ground for collaboration on the transformation of the food and farming systems.

Between January 25th-28th, Warsaw will host over one hundred representatives of various interest groups from across all regions of Poland: farmers, shepherds, fishermen, producer cooperatives, agricultural organisations, civil society organisations, food and farming education projects, journalists and researchers, as well as activists, urban gardeners and various consumer initiatives (from food cooperatives to CSAs).

We aim to discuss how to create a better food system and how to influence agricultural and food policy in Poland, as well as how to engage in the international political processes within and as part of the vibrant, critical mass of the Food Sovereignty movement worldwide.

We see clearly that that civil society has a very important role in ensuring that the food and agricultural policies are shaped with people’s rights and real livelihood experiences at their heart. Whilst we recognise that Poland has still quite a scarce representation in this struggle on the international level, we strongly feel there is fertile ground here, among our peoples and communities, both urban and rural, to organise and cooperate under a common vision of food sovereignty and build alliances worldwide.

The Forum will be the first opportunity in Poland to present and clarify the pillars, values, and systemic solution proposals of Food ​​Sovereignty movement. We will discuss who grows our food, who trades it, and who decides about the food system in Poland. We will further identify the challenges specific to the Polish food system and consider how they can be best addressed and transformed.

We aim to make the Forum as interactive and engaging as it is possible, therefore, we planned several discussion panels. Moreover, a big part of the meeting is dedicated to more detailed discussions in four working groups, these are: education, public policy, agroecology and the city-countryside axis. There will be an Initiatives’ Fair going on for all four days of the Forum, a “Show and Tell” session for the participants to presents selected topics and a theatre show followed by an evening of dancing, both led by an experimental peasant theatre group.

Moreover, through a series of plenary sessions we will debate the contested paradigms at the UN Food and Agriculture Agency and evaluate them against the peasant agroecology model. Importantly, we will discuss dynamically changing situation of the Polish countryside in the face of globalisation, as well as its relationship with the urban centres. We want to explore new ways to enrich and strengthen the resilience and mutuality in the relationship between the city and the countryside, and develop good practices at their many junctions.

Finally, we will place Polish food system in a broader European and global context. The key issues here include the Common Agricultural Policy and the upcoming changes it will bring; as well global trade, the influence of corporations, supermarket food chains and agribusiness.

During the Forum we will try to define hopes, needs and demands of Polish food sovereignty movement. Moreover, we will make an attempt to work out a common position and plan common actions aiming to influence Polish public policy makers to advance decisively in changing the food system for one that places people, land, and environment at its heart. We look forward to this exciting gathering and to sharing its results with the wider European Nyeleni network.