Food Sovereignty and Sustainable Development in Sicily.

Small-scale and artisanal fisheries and local communities’ rights.

The PON-Green 3 years project – co-funded by the FSE-REACT EU – will be led by the researcher Dr. Giulia Sajeva, under the supervision of Prof. Serena Marcenò. Dr. Sajeva will be based at the Department of Cultures and Society of the Università degli Studi di Palermo, a center that hosts experts in many different fields of humanities and that is particularly engaged with in activities based on and link to Sicilian culture, society, institutions and community. Prof. Serena Marcenò is the PI and scientific referent of many national and international projects whose network – especially in Middle East and North Africa – will be beneficial for the fulfillment of the project.

The project focuses on the rights of small-scale and artisanal fishing communities, with particular attention to Sicily and other Mediterranean areas. It dwells on the recognition of the fact that local communities are often holders of traditional knowledge and practices that allow them to manage ecosystem and natural resources in a sustainable way. In Sicily, in particular, fisheries, as well as the whole food industry generated by them, is one of most important economic activities and is intrinsically linked to local cultural and social traditions. Sicilian local communities are in fact holders of knowledge and practices that can be beneficial for the promotion of sustainable fishing sector.

As recently recognized by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other people living in rural areas, such knowledge and practices may be conserved and promoted through the promotion of the right to food sovereignty of such communities. Such right – that goes beyond the more restricted food security vision of rights – combines the right to sustainable development, to internal self-determination and to the management and governance of their lands and natural resources, and entails the creation of conservation of a sustainable, healthy, equitable and fair local food production system. The researcher will concentrate on understating the most fitting declination of the concept of food sovereignty in an EU State, keeping in mind that most interpretations currently focus on so-called developing countries. The project, in fact, aims at fostering the comprehension, under the light of the concept of food sovereignty, of the main challenges, strengths, and lack of rights of small-scale and artisanal fishing communities in Sicily, and to promote the fruitful connection between different communities in the Mediterranean Basin. The project will promote the establishment of (or the development of an existing) network of small Sicilian industries engaged in the production and commercialization of fishing goods obtained through practices and techniques that are respectful of the local biodiversity and cultural heritage. The researcher will organize activities aimed at the awareness raising of local stakeholders – local communities and industries – on their rights and on the importance of a green post-covid-19 recovery, such as knowledge exchanges and training activities – both face to face and online. In order to do so, the project will collaborate with the network of universities, research centers and industries of the Middle East and North Africa (particular focus on Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Palestine, and Israel) coordinated by Prof. Serena Marcenò, and will liaise with the University of Strathclyde, UK, and its EILEAN platform. In the Middle East and Mediterranean Area, she will interview of at least 5 stakeholders engaged small-scale and artisanal fisheries, and at least 5 stakeholders engaged with small or medium enterprises of the fisheries sector.

During the second year, the researcher will directly collaborate with the local company Carlino S.R.L. as consultant on the nationally and internally recognized rights of actors engaged in small-scale and artisanal fisheries and on the alignment of the company with the relevant Sustainable Development Goals. Moreover, the researcher will analyze EU fisheries management policies with the aim of understanding the impact of EU environmental governance on small and medium enterprises, and will explore Italian law under the light of the FAO report for Legislating for Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries – A guide and considerations for implementing aspects of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication in National Legislation. 

Taking advantage of the fact that the Carlino S.R.L. is a member of the Fisheries and Blue Growth District – COSVAP – the researcher will also collaborate with its scientific board, the Observation Centre for Mediterranean Fisheries.

Planned dissemination and outreach activities:

– 1 book on food sovereignty and small-scale and artisanal fisheries in the Mediterranean Basin;

– 3 articles on food sovereignty, case studies, and rights of sustainable local communities;

– creation of 1 digital platform for the dissemination of research results and training activities among a Mediterranean network of small-scale and artisanal fishing communities, industries and other stakeholders;

– training of at least 20 stakeholders (members of small-scale and artisanal fishing communities, industries and other stakeholders) on local community’s rights and food sovereignty.

– 1 training course on food sovereignty for early career researchers;

– 1 training course for stakeholders in the Middle East and Mediterranean Area;

– 2 presentations at congresses/workshops;

– 2 academic seminars (of which at least 1 in a university of the Middle East and Mediterranean Area);

– 2 seminars at the Carlino S.R.L. or partner institutions;

– 1 report on the work undertaken with the Calrino S.R.L.;

– 1 working paper/report on small-scale and artisanal fisheries in Sicily;

– 1 video on small-scale and artisanal fisheries in Sicily and the Mediterranean – in Italian, French, English and Arab;

– 1 research exchange in a university in the Middle East and Mediterranean Area;

– 1 research exchange in a European university with expertise on small-scale and artisanal fisheries.

Video by LIFE Platform – Low Impact Fishers of Europe