Food, Farm, and Climate Justice: A New Deal for a Just Transition

April 10th 2019

Presented by Keynote Speaker Eric Holt Giménez

Over the last three years, farm, food, and climate crises have unleashed a perfect storm on our food system. Droughts, hurricanes, and fires have exacerbated the creeping disasters of erosion, food and water contamination, and have worsened food insecurity. Fracking, pipelines, CAFOs, and bankruptcies rock the heartland, as family farmers, farmworkers, and people of color bear the brunt of our agrarian meltdown. In response, frontline communities are forging alternatives and building bold new alliances. Much like the era of the Great Depression, today, our farm, food and climate justice movements are calling for sweeping reforms for a Just Transition away from an economy rooted in hierarchies, exploitation, and greed, to another focused on resilience and equity.

Meanwhile, new leadership within the recent “blue wave” in the US Congress has proposed a plan – a Green New Deal – to address the climate crisis. Despite the support of some progressives, the proposal faces political obstacles in Congress and begs questions concerning its commitment to social justice. Particularly, it is not clear just how a Green New Deal will ensure the participation and equity demanded by social justice movements. Moreover, it is unclear if the proposal will benefit the most maligned by climate change, or feature simply a series of corporate handouts. In the context of the urgent need for a sea change in our policies, Food First wrote,

“Could the Green New Deal turn the climate Titanic around before all the icebergs melt? That depends on whether or not the lower decks take control of the helm… Social movements have an opportunity to join together as never before—not just to get behind the Green New Deal—but to form a broad-based, multi-racial, working class movement to build political power.”


Eric Holt-Giménez, Ph.D. is the executive director of Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy (July 2006—Present). Called one of the country’s “most established food think tanks” by the New York Times, Food First’s mission is to end the injustices that cause hunger, poverty and environmental degradation throughout the world. Food First believes that a world free of hunger is possible if farmers and communities take back control of the food systems presently dominated by transnational agri-foods industries

Eric earned a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from the University of California –Santa Cruz, and has an MSc. in International Agricultural Development from University of California, Davis. He has taught Development Studies at the University of California in Berkeley and Santa Cruz, and for the Boston University Global Ecology Program, and graduate courses in food justice, food sovereignty and agroecology at the University of the Pacific, Marylhurst University, Antioquia University in Colombia and the International University of Gastronomy in Italy.

At Food First, Eric’s research and writing has concentrated on the global food crisis, agroecology, the U.S. Farm Bill, the expansion of agrofuels, land issues, racism in the food system, and social movements for agroecology, food justice, farm justice, and food sovereignty.

Eric is the author and editor of several Food First books, including the latest Can We Feed the World Without Destroying It, as well as many academic and magazine articles and blogs.

In Eric’s words, “successful social movements are formed by integrating activism with livelihoods. These integrated movements create the deep sustained social pressure that produces political will—the key to changing the financial, governmental and market structures that presently work against sustainability.”