Climate justice and the ‘right to food’: Discursive connections and policy gaps — ASN Events

Climate justice and the ‘right to food’: Discursive connections and policy gaps (13083)

Kiah Smith 1
  1. University of Queensland, Auchenflower, QLD, Australia

This conceptual paper presents a preliminary analysis of the connections between ‘climate justice’ and the ‘right to food’, both discursively and in policy making. These represent important concepts shaping the governance of climate change, food security and social justice on a global scale, yet how they might combine to influence rights-based or market-based development policy is highly contested.1 Paradoxically, while climate change and food security are often addressed as separate issues in global and national policy making domains, these are increasingly connected by critical social movements (e.g. food sovereignty and climate justice).2 And while the ‘right to food’ has become part of national legislation in some countries, rights associated with climate justice are often debated separately. This is despite that fact that, for smallholder farmers in particular – who disproportionately experience inequality, poverty, food insecurity and the negative impacts of climate change – climate justice and the right to food are closely connected with local sustainable livelihoods.3 Conceptual work grounded in the articulations of Southern smallholder farmers (and other local actors) is needed.

This paper considers the ways in which right to food and climate justice combine at the (a) global level of international governance and food justice movements; (b) national level of right to food frameworks and programmes, and the (c) local level of smallholder farmer livelihoods. How are the dual issues of climate justice and food security framed within ‘right to food’ approaches in different countries? What potential exists for capturing the equity and justice concerns of smallholder farmers within such approaches? Finally, the paper suggests directions for empirical research to further explore the links between global discourses and the lived experiences of smallholder farmers in the global South (through case studies of fair trade and ‘Zero Hunger’ approaches in Nicaragua and West Africa).

  1. See for example: FAO (2008) Climate Change and Food Security, FAO, Rome;IFAD and UNEP (2013) Smallholders, Food Security and the Environment, IFAD, Rome; UN General Assembly (2013) Right to Food: Note by the Secretary-General, Interim Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food. 68th Session of the UN General Assembly, item 69 (b), A/68/288, 7 August 2013,
  2. ‘The Economy we Need: Declaration of the Social and Solidarity Economy movement at Rio+20’,
  3. Pritchard, B., Rammohan, A., Sekher, M., Parasuraman, S. and Choithani, C. (2014) Feeding India: Livelihoods, entitlements and capabilities, Earthscan, London and New York.