Hands on the land for food sovereignty

Food, land, water and seeds are not commodities!

Land, water, seeds and other natural resources represent vital resources for small-scale farmers throughout the world; they are closely linked to human rights, they are part of our shared heritage and they are fundamental to the future of our planet.

However, in the global South as in the North, small-scale farmers, their families and communities are losing or having their access to these resources threatened, limited or destroyed. A competition is underway, in which powerful interests, driven only by profit, concentrate control of natural resources, delivering the benefits derived from them to a handful of people.

This resource-grabbing takes a variety of forms, often dressed up in positive terms such as 'development', 'food security', 'environmental protection' or the production of 'clean energy'. These parties are basically aiming to reshape governance of natural resources, moving away from small-scale farms with high labour intensity, like peasant agriculture, fishing and sheep farming for family consumption and for sale on local markets. Their lobbies push for capital-intensive, extractive models, based on flexible, single-crop industrial cultivation, on a large scale, using high quantities of water and depleting resources (crops such as palm oil, corn, soya and sugar cane) to sell in urban areas and on foreign markets.

The result is that nature is commodified, the global food system is increasingly in the hands of multinationals, which tend to erode real food production systems, such as peasant agriculture, fishing and sheep farming, which today feed most of the world's population. We are facing the violation of a human right, the right to food and nutrition, and the violation of the food sovereignty of millions of communities.

Uniting struggles through a collective campaign

Hands on the land for food sovereignty is a European education and awareness-raising campaign that links several struggles for food sovereignty in the global North and South. This means putting the visions and aspirations of those who are on the front line of the fight for food sovereignty, whether they be small fishing, peasant, sheep farming communities, or indigenous people, young or future farmers, or marginalised, vulnerable groups, at the heart of the policies that affect them. In the European context, this means looking at the role played by the EU, at the positive and negative aspects of its policies.

As such, our campaign commits to challenging European development policymakers to:

  • address the increasingly pressing problems regarding global governance of land-food-climate, and their devastating effects on the poorest sections of the population. This means denouncing those policies and programmes that support a system that treats food, land, water, seeds and nature as commodities, rather than proposing real solutions;
  • make use of best practice regarding sustainable use of land, water and energy, such as agro-ecology, as well as positive examples of investments in agricultural and rural development, key to transitioning towards climate-resilient food systems;
  • improve the coherence of its development policies, put human rights at the heart of European legislation, such as trade, energy and investment policies, in order to protect and support the resources that we all depend on.

Take action for food and land sovereignty!

  • Demand justice from Italian and European politicians, by joining one of our many campaigns. Demand that development aid and European policies be based on human rights.
  • Get informed, through our articles, reports, infographics, videos and other online resources, about the problems and struggles in the global South and in Europe linked to the governance of land, water and other natural resources, and on existing alternatives.
  • Get involved, by participating in our courses, public debates, seminars and conferences, organised by various partners and allies – your contribution is valuable!
  • Share this information with your friends and with organisations in your country (and beyond), to get involved in a global network fighting for food and land sovereignty!

Hands on the land for food sovereignty is a collective campaign run by 16 partners, which include social and peasant movements, development and environmental NGOs, human rights organisations, researchers and activists. The goal is to conduct awareness-raising activities in Europe on problems linked to the use and governance of land, water and natural resources, and their effects on the right to food and to food sovereignty.

Through empirical research and the production of materials, organising public events and meetings, courses, education and advocacy work, the campaign aims to involve citizens, the media, journalists, NGOs, social activists, educators, students, politicians, legislators and European policymakers in taking action for food sovereignty.

Discover the project

The Convergence of land and water struggles

Land and water are intimately linked, and represent the same challenges for the future of humanity and the planet, against the influence of a neoliberal, capitalist, unequal, repressive and unfair system. Throughout the world, activists fighting for land and water – for life, in other words – are the first victims of oppression.

Until recently, there was no Convergence of social movements fighting for land and water. At the 2014 World Social Forum in Dakar, these movements declared their intention to strengthen their struggles and to unite them, drafting a statement entitled “Rights to water and land, a common struggle”. This initial declaration was underpinned by a strong spirit of solidarity, which again brought social movements and civil society together at this year's World Social Forum in Tunis.

This led to a desire to create a space for Convergence, where struggles for land and water could meet, which led to a second declaration: “From Dakar to Tunis: Declaration of the Global Convergence of land and water struggles”

At the bottom of the page, you can download the original Declaration in English, French or Spanish. You can support the Declaration by filling out this form.

Read also: Land and Ocean Grabs not the solution to Climate Change.

The Caravan

With the goal of having the voices of communities and populations heard, and to bring our governments' attention to the matter, the West Africa Convergence is organising a Caravan for land, water and seeds that will travel throughout March 2016. It will start in Burkina Faso on 3rd March, passing through Mali with Senegal as its final destination on 19th March. From 25th February to 2nd March, the Caravan will hold various launch events. Representatives of Niger, Nigeria, Togo and Benin will join the Caravan in Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. Ghanaian representatives will join the Caravan in Bobo-Dioulasso in Burkina Faso. Representatives of Cote d'Ivoire will join at Sikasso in Mali, those from Mauritania will join in Rosso, northern Senegal, and those from Guinea Conakry will join in Tambacounda. Representatives of Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Sierra Leone will join it in Kaolack. Many cities in Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal will hold activities. Find more information here and find here the general call to mobilisation.

Visit the Hands on the Land website:


More info about HOTL here.