La Via Campesina launched the idea of Food Sovereignty at the World Food Summit in 1996. This idea has since grown into a global people’s movement carried by a large diversity of social sectors, including the urban poor, environmental and consumer groups, women’s associations, fisher-folks, pastoralists, and many others. It is also recognized by several institutions and governments. Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through sustainable methods, as well as their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It develops a model of small-scale sustainable production benefiting communities and their environment. It puts the aspirations, needs, and livelihoods of those who produce, distribute, and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies, rather than the demands of markets and corporations.
A 2018 grant from the Cultures of Resistance Network supported La Via Campesina’s work with the Latin American Coordination of Peasant Organizations to create the network of Latin American Agroecological Institutes (IALA) in Latin America. The spirit of the IALAs and the other processes was to conceive of the school—with or without walls—as a space of collective exchange of knowledge and self-education, in which to reflect critically on one’s own experiences and ways of life.