Sunday, October 02, 2011

International Newsletter on Sustainable Local Development
Newsletter #82
October 1st 2011

Nyeleni Europe: an important step forward for the European Food Sovereignty movement

Foundation Congress of RIPESS Europe, Solidarity Economy Network Barcelona, September 8th, 9th and 10th 2011
Message from the Editorial Team

Judith presents the progress of the food sovereignty movement in Europe. We are encouraged by the development of this approach, in all the different continents.
We are also glad to share good news – the foundation of RIPESS Europe. Martine and Judith participated in this historic meeting, last September 8 to 10 in Barcelona.

Editorial Team
Judith Hitchman
Yvon Poirier
Martine Theveniaut

Nyeleni Europe: an important step forward
for the European Food Sovereignty movement.

From August 16th – 22nd, over 500 participants from 40 countries came together in Krems - Austria, to share their experience and develop the future of both networks and actions for increased food sovereignty in Europe.

Methodology and content

The methodology, based on the first Nyeleni meeting held in Mali in 2007, ensured that all the groups and sub-groups were highly interactive. The programme was divided into 5 strands, dealing respectively with models of production, markets and organisation of distribution chains and food networks, social aspects and work conditions, access to land and other resources, and public policies. Particular attention was paid to ensure that at least 30% of those attending were young people, as well as to gender balance. There were also regional and constituency (farmers. NGOs, etc.) meetings, and many self-organised activities, as well as an excellent awareness raising fair and actions in one of the town’s many squares in the historic quarter.


As befits such a meeting, food was all local and organic, and the excellent vegan (non-animal) meals were cooked by a team of volunteers, by far the highest standard of any catering for such large numbers that I have ever encountered. A large team of very dedicated volunteer interpreters covered a wide range of Eastern, Western, Southern and Northern European languages.

Characteristics of the week’s work

The predominant aspect of the meeting was the dedicated working atmosphere, and how hard all the participants worked, in a quiet, constructive way. Was it because we were in a Central European country? The fact that there were so many incredibly committed young people present? Or the fact that in this time of crisis, that the obvious solution seems not just to criticise, but rather to build genuine alternatives to the neo-liberal system?

Many networks like the Via Campesina, Urgenci, (the International Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) network), Friends of the Earth and other members of the Food Sovereignty movement were key actors in the process. Questions like CSA and other forms of direct sales, access to public procurement for local small-scale producers, participatory guarantee systems (PGS) as peer-to-peer alternative certification for organic producers, the need for regulations that favour small-scale family farming and processing rather than industrialisation, GMO-free agriculture and freedom to exchange and sell farm seeds, were all perceived as the way forward to a European Food Sovereignty movement of economic and social alternatives, and a move towards territorial social dialogue between multiple stakeholders at all levels.
It was an inspiring week, particularly with so many energetic and dedicated young people present.

The Nyeleni Europe Final Declaration can be found on the website at

Judith Hitchman

Foundation Congress of RIPESS Europe, Solidarity Economy Network Barcelona, September 8th, 9th and 10th 2011.

In line with the RIPESS International strategy, and two years after the 4th meeting of Globalisation of Solidarity that was held in the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg, around a hundred delegates and representatives of European Networks founded RIPESS Europe. This event was held on a shoetring budget, and could not have succeeded without the mobilisation and efficient, convivial organisation by XES, Xarxa Economia Solidaria, both members of the Spanish REAS network. Around 50 people were accommodated in people’s homes! The countries present were : Belgium, Catalunya, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxemburg, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and Romania. There was also a delegation from the neighbouring Mediterranean countries of Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt.

The Congress agenda included the discussion and validation of proposals that had been prepared by a Committee of active members involved in the preparation of the European Lux’09 Forum in April 2009. They included a Manifesto, and the Articles of Association. A first Organising Committee was designated. It is made up of a balanced panel of national platforms, regional and inter-regional, sectorial and inter-sectorial networks, resource people and researchers.

The broad outlines of the activities for the next two years were determined based after sharing the work that was carried out in 6 Work Groups:
GT1-- Mapping, extension, identity and cooperation
GT2 Social Services of General Interest (SSGI), the relationship between the public sector and SSE.
GT3 - Territorial development, solidarity economy, food sovereignty, local pacts : what convergence for building collective solutions?
GT4 – Responsible consumption, fair trade and solidarity tourism, ethical finance: building a social market.
GT5 - SSE as an alternative to the capitalist market
GT6 – RIPESS Europe : strategies, positions, methods and added value: how to be fully present in the European debate.

The transversal territorial approach particularly emphasized by the European P’ACTES plays an important part in the foundation process: with Priscila Soarès, a woman with 30 years experience in participatory regional development in the Algarve, in the South of Portugal as female delegate, and France Joubert. GT3 set the objective of creating convergence through learning journeys, as a useful tool for learning from one another. 2 or 3 are planned for 2012: Morocco, Catalunya, and Romania.
From a collective of actors to a collective actor, the conditions are now right for Europe to make its contribution to the great transition!


The Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the Social Solidarity Economy (RIPESS) has a new website, in French, in English and in Spanish.
It will be updated regularly with news and announcements.
Take note that you can now subscribe on the website for regular updates and news.

Our Newsletters are available on the WEB:

Message from the Editorial team
The production of this Newsletter published in French, English, Spanish and Portuguese is entirely done by volunteers.
We wish to thank the following volunteers for their support:
Michel Colin (Brazil)
Paula Garuz Naval (Ireland)
Évéline Poirier (Canada)
Brunilda Rafael (France)
We also want to thank the Policy Research Institute for the Civil Sector (PRICS) of Seikatsu Club in Japan for the translation to Japanese.
To contact us (for information, feedback, to subscribe or unsubscribe):
Yvon Poirier