How can the invaluable knowledge and vision of food production of the world’s Indigenous peoples not only survive in modern times, but be appreciated as a solution to fix a broken global food system? This question brought together 50 food communities from around the world for Indigenous Terra Madre held in Jokkmokk, Sweden last month, the first ever Slow Food event dedicated entirely to their issues.
Three days of intense workshops and discussions brought up a wide range of issues shared among the 200 delegates from diverse homelands and cultures: climate change; surviving modern times and extreme conditions; how to promote local foods and food cultures; preservation of memory and traditional knowledge; land rights and so on. These were summarized on the last day in the Jokkmokk Agreement, which presents their collective voice and proposals for action.
Through its 12 statements, the agreement encourages Indigenous peoples to proactively pass-on and protect essential inherited knowledge; establish “food sovereignty areas” managed by Indigenous peoples and free from the influence of multinationals; and to create capacity-building programs and activities. The document also directly calls upon the United Nations to take action to maintain and strengthen Indigenous peoples’ food systems and promote and implement their rights.
“The idea of creating food sovereignty areas is new, but most of the issues have been raised before,” said Phrang Roy from the Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty, of which Slow Food is a part.
“What we hope is that the agreement, and the relationships forged during the meeting, will help the various networks that participated together with Slow Food to be more effective in promoting Indigenous knowledge as essential to the concept of ecological agriculture. Food is culture, seeds are sacred and land is our life and identity. This must be recognized as we push towards a more sustainable lifestyle that is more sensitive to the overall well being and happiness of everyone.”
The Jokkmokk Agreement is now being introduced to wider networks through the Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity, the Sami Parliament, the International Indigenous Treaty Council and other indigenous groups represented at the meeting. The Indigenous Partnership will also be presenting the document to the 2012 Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
“We have many ideas,” said Phrang. “Following Jokkmokk, and with our united statement, we can now approach forthcoming global events such Rio+20, Terra Madre 2012 and the 2014 proposed UN High Level Meeting on Indigenous Issues.
It is essential that more grassroots voices are heard in these meetings – as we heard at Jokkmokk.” Indigenous Terra Madre delegates also decided to establish a permanent Terra Madre working group to continue to address these issues and represent Indigenous members of the Terra Madre network into the future. Click here to download the Jokkmokk Agreement. Photo © Stéphane Lombard