LDnet is pleased to present this paper by Robert Lukesch on the theme of food sovereignty and urban rural linkages. Robert suggested this theme and developed the content for the LDnet Open Days (OD) 2015 workshop hosted by DG Regio and the Committee of the Region. As in other years, the LDnet workshop included input from academic researchers and experts engaged with EU networks combined with presentations of experiences from different local areas in the EU – in this case, from the Netherlands, Austria, Greece and the UK. The presentations at the workshop stimulated a lively debate between panellists and the audience of workshop participants. In keeping with the purpose of LDnet, the relevance of the theme of food sovereignty to CLLD as an approach was a further dimension of the workshop.
This discussion paper was prepared after the workshop. It draws on proceedings of the workshop and also deeper investigation of the theme and its relevance to current challenges including climate change and social inequality. This paper presents critical and insightful analysis, going well beyond discussion of local initiatives in the EU to reflect on the wider global dimension of food sovereignty. Its audience is policy makers, practitioners and advocates of local development.
The purpose of the paper is to connect food, which concerns everybody, with a critical analysis / reflection on current orientations including CLLD. CLLD is promoted in both urban and rural development in ESIF 2014-2020. It is embedded rural development, as a requirement under LEADER while strengthening urban-rural linkages is part of the thinking in Sustainable Urban Development (ERDF).
The analysis presented in the paper shows, inter alia, the contradictions between policies that we expect to be “close” and complementary. For instance, the CAP and rural development policies are working to different agendas and trajectories. The CAP is a big policy area with a macro-level impact and supports individual units rather than collective action. In view of current issues such as mountains of food waste co-existing with food poverty, negative environmental effects associated with improved efficiencies in food production as well as concentration in the food industry reflected in monopolies in food distribution and selling, the underlying objective of promoting “food security” has lost meaning. Rural development policies, on the other hand, supporting local initiatives based on collective action – small food producers, anti-poverty measures and bringing back power to citizens, drawing on CLLD methods – do not fit well with the bigger picture.
The paper also highlights that urban-rural linkages need more teasing out to consider at a deeper level what types of relationships can be pursued to benefit both. Many current trends and policies (and regulatory frameworks) run counter to reshaping the dynamic between urban and rural areas. In this area, CLLD is marginalised but is an essential process towards sustainable development and for the policy agenda to be citizen focused. If we take the analysis from this issue of food sovereignty into the wider development context we are struck by the fact that super-regions may produce growth but there are major costs and limitations associated with agglomeration. This suggests that models of decentralised government at sub-regional and local level (cities and rural hinterlands) are more likely to be conducive to the wider public good.
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