Decolonize your Plate, Amazonize the World!

Also available in pdf: English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.

The International Committee of URGENCI is pleased to announce Decolonize your Plate, Amazonize the World, the online International Symposium of Community -Supported Agriculture (CSA), 25-30 October 2021. It will be the 8th edition of URGENCI’s International Symposium, and will combine with the 5th European Meeting of CSA movements. It will also mark the 10th anniversary of CSA Brasil. It will be followed by the General Assembly of the international network URGENCI, 2-3 November.

URGENCI is a network of many national and regional networks worldwide, and represents around 3 million members. As a social movement, it is part of the global food sovereignty movement and the solidarity economy movement. The Symposium will demonstrate the impact of alternative food systems at both local and global levels.

Why are we meeting?

There are many burning issues within our communities. How can we build ever-greater mobilization to realize the right to food and nutrition? In the aftermath of the pandemic, where does the power of our partnerships lie in providing a resilient basis for disarticulated societies? What is the role of peasant agroecology in building local solidarity-based partnerships between producers and conscious eaters? How to ensure that our partnerships are contributing to building stronger social links? How can we ensure our efforts are collectivised and reflected in policy for genuinely sustainable food systems and nutrition for all?

Let’s take a breath and look together at our success stories, our common vision, our experiences, lessons learnt and at our joint challenges .

Farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolk, conscious eaters, network representatives and supporters, advocates – will all be converging for this online meeting.

Workshops, exchanges of practices: the actors coming from all corners of the world will have the opportunity to build a new chapter for the movement. One of the key principles of CSA is building trust-based direct relationships between producers and eaters. CSA also enables millions of people around the world to access fresh, healthy and nutrient-rich food in an inclusive way, while ensuring decent livelihoods for thousands of farmers. It is also a powerful means of ensuring genuine urban-rural linkages

Among the highlights from the Symposium, there will be an evening dedicated to the 3rd CSA Film Festival (30 October) and as a finale, the URGENCI General Assembly (2-3 November).

Join us, and you will get a chance to:

  • Vibrate during “farming art” sessions created by activists from Brazil and  all corners of the world
  • Exchange with seasoned practitioners
  • Hear from other CSA networks
  • Reflect on how to better articulate the support for agroecological farmers and social, economic and environmental justice
  • Harvest new ideas on how to develop your partnerships
  • Network around different roles: farmer-to-farmer, fisher-to-fisher, or cross sector
  • Discover new initiatives
  • Join the CSA Film Festival and have a chance to meet the film directors

We call on representatives of all CSA initiatives, local and national networks to come together for this unique event!

Why host this meeting in Manaus?

The event will however be based in Manaus, Brazil, in the Amazon rainforest. Manaus was chosen as the host city before the Covid-19 pandemic began.

As the biggest city in Amazonia, Manaus is known for its cultural diversity and marvelous tropical landscapes. It has become iconic of the resilience of alternative food initiatives during the Covid-19 pandemic, and survived two terrible health crises, during which local hospitals ran out of beds and oxygen. Manaus is also a symbol of the over-exploitation of the rainforests: when the Amazon makes the news, it is usually because of illegal mining, fires and deforestation, and agribusiness attacks on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. These gigantic interconnected struggles are partly due to the increasing demand for industrial production of major commodities to supply global markets.

Not just Amazonia, but the histories of Brazil, Latin and North America are based on past European conquests, colonization and occupation of the ancestral territories of native cultures and ethnic groups. This process caused many deep changes by imposing a Euro-centric culture on the many local and traditional cultures in the formation of the present-day societies of the Americas. Over time, the colonization process changed food habits which in turn contributed directly to the eradication of food production systems based in traditional knowledge.

The CSA movement believes it is still in our power to reverse this trend, by making the right choices as to what we put on our plates, and joining with other social movements to build power. Food Sovereignty is celebrating 25 years of existence this year: we can and must reclaim democratic control of our food chains, emancipate ourselves as eaters and producers, and dismantle corporate power. How can we achieve this? Together, united, we can collectively Decolonize our plates!

For non-Indigenous People, Decolonization is also the process of examining our beliefs about Indigenous People and culture by learning about ourselves in relation to the communities where we live. Once we stop considering the Amazon from an agribusiness perspective, we start to realize that there are many different Amazons, each of them a rich mosaic of natural ecosystems and cultural wealth. To fight for the forest is to empower the people who live there and help to protect the ancestral ground for future generations. This requires a symbiotic relationship with our common home and those with whom we share it. To save the Amazon, we shall Amazonize the world! Only then can the lungs of the planet continue to breathe and our hearts to beat!

Why will we be meeting online?

The decision was taken in February to hold the Symposium online, because of the uncertain conditions created by the pandemic, the lack of support from funders for this kind of face-to-face events in 2021, and, most importantly, in order to avoid any inequality of access to the event among participants facing heterogenous situations regarding both the circulation of Covid-19 variants and access to vaccination in their home countries. It was clear to us that either we could all participate in a face-to-face meeting, or none of us would go!

We know how difficult it is to participate in an online meeting that lasts for several days, especially when this is replacing such a colorful event as the traditional meeting our CSA movements. However, it is important that you save your dates so that we can meet, reflect and build our action plan together. It is equally crucial to see people we care about and miss meeting face to face. We will do our best to build a program that is light and flexible enough to be accessed by a large number of farmers, fishers and grassroots activists from all over the world.

The International Symposium  will therefore take place only during the “afternoon” sessions (from 13.00 UTC – Universal Time Coordinated) until 16.00 UTC). This time is when we can all meet: early for some, late for others, but still possible for us all to come together.

There will however be UTC “morning” sessions as part of the 5th European Meeting of CSA Movements (on the 27th and 28th of October). There will also be morning sessions for our Asian members. In the morning of the 29th of October we will hold the 3rd meeting of the Mediterranean network of Local Solidarity-based Partnerships for Agroecology (LSPA, which includes CSA but also other forms of direct partnerships between producers and consumers).

How can we register?

Please fill in the registration form before 15th September 2021.

Registration form → https://pollen.urgenci.net/symposium2021/

As with the previous iterations of the International Symposium, we hope to achieve geographical and constituency balance, avoiding over- and under-representation of any country or region, and make sure producers are well represented. We also aim for gender balance. There might therefore be a delegation selection process at national level if required.

Please note that this meeting, involving several layers of action and networking, will be supported and made possible by a team of voluntary professional interpreters, who will interpret into up to 5 key languages as well as languages of the Indigenous Peoples, interpreted by their own interpreters. They will all be supported by a team of technicians.

We will actually need some additional help from volunteers. This is to make sure this event will be a success, and a genuine moment of conviviality. If you are able and willing to help us, please mention it in the online registration form. Thank you in advance for your help!

 

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