The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) has released a new report in collaboration with the ETC Group: ‘A Long Food Movement: Transforming Food Systems by 2045’.
In this report, IPES-food and the ETC group map out two very different futures for food systems, people and the planet. The first scenario goes into what the next 25 years would have in store under “agribusiness-as-usual”? The keys of the food system are handed over to data platforms, private equity firms, and e-commerce giants, putting the food security of billions at the mercy of high-risk, AI-controlled farming systems, and accelerating environmental breakdown.
But fortunately, there’s a second possible future in sight. What if the initiative is reclaimed by civil society and social movements – from grassroots organizations to international NGOs, from farmers’ and fishers’ groups to cooperatives and unions?
“We imagine what a ‘Long Food Movement‘ could achieve by 2045 if these movements succeed in collaborating more closely – to transform financial flows, governance structures and food systems from the ground up. In this second scenario, civil society seizes the initiative, developing deeper, wider, and more effective collaborations than ever before. A Long Food Movement is in fact long in the making. From ongoing Indigenous struggles against colonization to the anti-globalization protests that gave rise to the concept of food sovereignty, it is clear that civil society – in its diversity of forms and scales of action – can be a powerful change-maker.”
Looking ahead to 2045: Civil society as Unusual (Scenario 2)
The ingredients to make this a reality are abundant in today’s food movements, although they will need to be deployed more systematically than ever before. This scenario is imagined in four interrelated pathways of food systems reform and transformation:
PATHWAY 1: Rooting food systems in diversity, agroecology, and human rights
Over the 2020s, food systems based on diversity show their resilience in the face of shocks. Territorial markets continue to spread, and diets edge towards ethical and healthy choices. With a clear consensus in place around food sovereignty and agroecology, the Long Food Movement succeeds in defending the rights of the marginalised and amplifying their voices through inclusive processes, promoting diversified, agroecological systems, and accelerating alternative markets and dietary shifts.
PATHWAY 2: Transforming governance structures
Over the years, the Long Food Movement fights back against corporate takeover of the multilateral system and forces a fundamental governance reconfiguration of its own. And in the face of semipermanent crises, civil society successfully makes the case for emergency food security provisions that supersede trade rules and land-grab contracts, and a crackdown on agribusiness concentration and techno-fixes. These steps are underpinned by the ongoing spread of food policy councils, deliberative dialogues, and other mechanisms to strengthen the participation of social movements, Indigenous peoples, and NGOs in food system governance.
PATHWAY 3: Shifting financial flows
The combination of climate emergencies, food-related epidemics, and technological risks and failures spark unprecedented calls for existing financial flows to be redirected. The Long Food Movement focuses on three areas: i) soft targets (or ‘low-hanging-fruit’) like administrative and research budget lines; ii) the hard target of major commodity subsidies; and iii) the untaxed ‘externalities’ and revenues of corporations.
PATHWAY 4: Rethinking the modalities of civil society collaboration
In order to advance Pathways 1-3, civil society has to operate more collaboratively than ever before. This means navigating long-standing rivalries, diverging priorities, and competition for funding. Yet many successful collaborative processes are already showing the way, and new opportunities are exposed by the compounding social and environmental crises.
Civil society can and must transform itself. History shows that when confronted by necessity or opportunity, people can adapt almost overnight. Wars, embargoes, coups, and natural calamities can transform production and consumption patterns, and give rise to new networks of communication and cooperation. And the vast changes experienced as society has adapted to COVID-19, changes that would have seemed wildly optimistic only a year ago, show that, tomorrow, anything is possible.
SOURCE: IPES-Food & ETC Group, 2021. A Long Food Movement: Transforming food systems by 2045.
FULL REPORT AVAILABLE AT: www.ipes-food.org/pages/LongFoodMovement