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Transition towards a food commons regime

Jose Luis Vivero Pol is an anti-hunger and social rights activist. He is a PhD candidate on Global Food Governance and Transition towards more sustainable forms of Food Production, supervised by Olivier de Schutter in the University of Louvain, Belgium.
He has previously worked for the European Commision, FAO and civil society organizations conceptualizing and implementing major anti-hunger schemes such as the Hunger-Free Latin America and the Caribbean Initiative.

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In the Food Security area, he has broad experience in national and regional food policies, institutional building, advocacy on social rights (mainly the Right to Food) and food sovereignty and capacity building.

As Olivier de Schutter said :
« We need policies that are much more coherent from the local to the global (...) Local resources can be better used to shape food systems that are more sustainable and fair for both consumers and producers. However, very often, such local initiatives are not supported by national policies or by the global framework. »

Jose Luis Vivero Pol adds that :
« The corporate (neoliberal) food regime defines a set of rules institutionalising corporate power in the world food system and deepening the commodification of food by radically undermining its non-monetary dimensions.
Those other dimensions, rather important for our survival, self-identity and community life are as follows : food as a basic human need to keep our vital functions ; a pillar of every national culture ; a fundamental human right and a natural resource than must be sustainably produced.
All those dimensions enrich the consideration of food as a commons. The reduction of the food dimensions to one of a commodity explains the roots of the failure of the global food system and therefore the most revolutionary and structural mind shift is to re-value the multiple dimensions of food for human beings, beyond its artificially low price in the market. »

In the case of food and hunger, the declarations of successive World Food Summits do not commit individual countries to any specific goals or actions for reducing hunger at a national level or for providing funds towards the costs of hunger eradication in other countries.(...), although the Committee on World Food Security acknowledged the status of food security as a global public good, a recognition that reflects the developments of the international discourse after the global food price crisis of 2008.

Governed by self-interest, private markets will not provide an adequate quantity of global public goods, such as health, nutrition and hunger eradication, which have enormous benefits to human beings but are non-monetised, as the positive externalities cannot be captured by private actors.

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A Universal Food Coverage could be engineered to guarantee a minimum amount of food to everybody, everywhere, every day, similar to universal health coverage and universal primary education, both available in many countries around the world. Why is what we see as acceptable for health and education so unthinkable for food ?

The socially constructed nature of food as a private good is being necessarily re-conceived as a commons, a crucial narrative for the transition from the dominating industrial food system towards a more sustainable system that is fairer to food producers and consumers.

Read more about Food as a Commons in JL Vivero Pol recent papers

Jose Luis Vivero Pol, Anne Chemin-Roberty, 23 mars 2015

Publié ou mis à jour le 23 mars 2015