Territorial food systems: Protecting the rural and localizing human rights accountability
This working paper (PDF) by the Global Network for the right to food and nurition argues that we need to react against the urbanization of the development agenda, and the long-held dichotomy of rural and urban spaces. It addresses ongoing discussions in preparation of Habitat III, the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development. The terms ‘rural-urban linkages’, ‘city-region food systems’, and ‘territorial food systems’ are often used interchangeably in international policy fora, academia, and other discussions on how rural and urban spaces relate to each other in food systems. However, the issue of what can be considered ‘uniquely rural’, and the rights of rural communities tend to be omitted. The long-held urban-rural dichotomy reinforces an inequitable development model, which puts industrial and ‘urban growth’ pressure on rural areas and on small-scale food producers to feed increasingly urban populations. The development model itself, however, is not questioned. The Habitat III process is emblematic of global policy shifts across the UN system and at the national level, as human rights have been largely dropped from policy documents and discussions. Member states and UN institutions continue to reinforce weakened language and commitments, and increasingly push responsibility onto the corporate sector via language that uses ‘inclusion’, ‘access’, ‘empowerment’ and ‘social responsibility’ in lieu of the human rights obligations of states.