This study is based on in-depth conversations with members and associated organizations of the Global Network for the Right to Food and Nutrition and FIAN national sections from Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Indonesia, Nepal, India, and Palestine (Gaza Strip).
Based on their experiences and perspectives, The Role of Local Governments in Constructing Human Rights-based Food Systems discusses opportunities for local governments to adopt progressive policies and laws around food systems. It provides examples of where this has happened and examines the challenges encountered as well as local citizens’ participation and international engagement.
While local government has great potential to construct bottom-up policies that foster food sovereignty and the right to food, it is also important not to idealize its role and overlook the real challenges and constraints that exist.
Civil society engagement
The leeway available to local authorities varies widely across countries and regions, as do their human and financial resources. Moreover, the local context does not exist in a vacuum. It is affected by national and international frameworks and power dynamics, including those relating to corporations. It also has its own unique power dynamics, including the role of local elites.
“The way human rights are operationalized at local level is directly related to the accountability of the state to its people,” says report co-author Laura Michéle.
“Spaces must be created for meaningful civil society engagement in the development, implementation and monitoring of food and nutrition policies. It is also important to regulate the participation of private sector entities in such spaces.”
Local policies can directly impact how human rights are operationalized. These policies and policy spaces must be held to the same standards that are expected of national government. Civil society can work closely with local governments, bringing concrete demands and offering tangible grassroots support.