Food Sovereignty

Roots of Change: Food Sovereignty, Women, and Eco-Justice

Roots of Change: Food Sovereignty, Women, and Eco-Justice
A Short Film by the Temple of Understanding

Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.” –Declaration of Nyéléni, the first global forum on food sovereignty, Mali, 2007

What’s New: News and Events on Food Sovereignty and Justice >>

The Temple of Understanding sees the urgent need to transform industrial agriculture and support smaller, more local agriculture as a key ingredient to a peaceful future. 

Part of our work at the United Nations is to follow up on concerns such as those raised by colleague Isis Alvarez of the Global Forest Coalition:

“Perverse initiatives endorsed by the Paris Agreement such as Climate Smart Agriculture surrender too much power to already powerful multinational corporations monopolizing the food industry setting the stage for the further demise of small peasant farmers especially women and their related traditional knowledge. Already a report from FAO (2014) demonstrated how agroecology could feed the world without the need for harmful and misleading technologies while empowering small scale farmers.”

–Excerpt from the presentation by Isis Alvarez at the Open Ended Committee of Permanent Representatives to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), based on “Proposed Resolution for UNEA on Paris Agreement” and “A Reality Check on the Paris Agreement from the Women and Gender Constituency (WGCY)”

Food Justice Resources

Image by Thamizhpparithi Maari via Wikimedia Commons. (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Image by Thamizhpparithi Maari via Wikimedia Commons. (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Many organizations at the UN are working towards food sovereignty or food justice. Our colleagues at the NGO Working Group on Food and Hunger at the United Nations maintain a list of the related UN resources.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations writes that “In addition the environmental imperative, there is a moral one: We simply cannot allow one-third of all the food we produce to go to waste, when 870 million people go hungry every day.”

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)’s 2013 report “Wake Up Before It Is Too Late” emphasizes the need for regional and rational agriculture not based on extractive industrial practices.

ToU also works with Vandana Shiva and the Seed Freedom project, which protects the right to save and exchange open-pollinated, non-GMO, non-patented seed.

The Women Who Restored Jungles” describes how the women of Odisha, India restored biodiversity in their region and took control of their own food supply.

Ample Harvest provides fresh produce to food pantries, many run by religious communities, by helping 42 million home and community gardeners nationwide to end food waste by connecting them to these local services, enabling them to donate their excess produce — using online database technology. 

USAID provides an online course illustrating the linkages between agriculture, food systems, and nutrition. Starting from two realistic scenarios, the course describes benefits and opportunities for integrating nutrition into food system policies, investments, and programs.

Additional resources include Tristram Stuart’s book, Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal. A third of the world’s food supply is wasted; we’re chopping down forests to grow more food, and a billion people are still going hungry.

Food Sovereignty, Women & Sustainability: The Roots of System Change

2016 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women
Friday, March 18, 2016

Food Sovereignty, Women & Sustainability - CSW 2016

Chantal Line Carpentier, Nina Simons, Jen Kopec, Grove Harris


This panel explored access to healthy food as a lens toward understanding the interconnections of all our equity and sustainability issues. Ensuring sustainable food for all is clearly both a practical and a moral effort; faith communities have long been committed to this. Access to decent food can be seen as a crosscutting issue through all the Sustainable Development Goals; it touches on justice, sovereignty, health, climate change, water, economy, faith and world peace, and women’s leadership in all these arenas. The nourishment, health, economics, sustainability and peace of families, communities and nation states improve as the leadership and literacy of women increase.


Chantal Line Carpentier, chief, New York UNCTAD Office
Nina Simons, co-founder of Bioneers
Jen Kopec, intuitive healer, consciousness in food and body


Grove Harris, Representative to the United Nations, Temple of Understanding

For more information and a list of co-sponsors, click here >>

TOU Statement on Human Right to Food at UN Human Rights Council

In collaboration with the Mining Working Group and Franciscans International, the Temple of Understanding was honored to contribute a statement on the Human Right to Food for the thirty-first session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. Special thanks to Sylvia Rossini for delivering the statement, entitled “Human Rights: Foreign Debt and the Right to Food.”

Read the text of the Human Right to Food statement >>

Watch the statement on UNTV >>

The Essentials:
Food, Water, Women and Justice

Parallel Event for the 58th UN Commission on the Status of Women 2014
Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

This solution-oriented session covered transformed paradigms as well as pragmatic solutions and applications, including local growing, permaculture, safe seeds and closing the circle. This program addresses work towards MDGs #1 and #7, ending hunger and protecting the environment. We can reframe agriculture as ecosystem, as is recommended in the recent UNCTAD report, “Wake Up Before it’s too Late.” This includes full cycle thinking, focus on safe seeds, and reframing waste as nutrient for the next cycle. The session focused on international perspectives from El Salvador and India, as well as US based efforts. Scale and distribution issues are prevalent, and solutions include diverse local and international initiatives.

  • Grove Harris – Convener; Temple of Understanding’s Food Initiative
  • Marta Benavides – Food Sovereignty: Insights on Global Food Justice, Case Study El Salvador
  • Dr. Pam Rajput – India: The Women’s Parliament and “What Women Want”
  • Nina Simons – The Nexus: Food, Water, Seed Control and Gender Justice
  • Jim Sniffen – UNEP’s ThinkEatSave Initiative to End Food Waste

For more information and a list of co-sponsors, click here >>