World Localization Day: Why We Need to Localize Our Food Economies Now

World Localization Day: Why We Need to Localize Our Food Economies Now

An international campaign, World Localization Day, offers a new economic vision – broadly termed ‘localization’ – that can increase wellbeing and prosperity for the majority, while systemically reducing resource-use, emissions and toxic pollution.

June 20 2021 marks the return of the international campaign, which aims to galvanize the worldwide localization movement into a force for systemic change. Launched by the international non-profit Local Futures, the campaign has the support of prominent figures like H.H. The Dalai Lama, Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, Jane Goodall, Russell Brand, and Brian Eno, the international campaign includes in-person and online activities in 28 countries on six continents, plus a five-day online programme of inspirational discussions, interviews, and short films.

It also brings together a global network of 50+ partners, spanning 28 countries. From Japan to Benin, from Brazil to France, online conferences, talk-shows, hands-on workshops, seed exchanges, local food festivals and more are taking place under the banner of World Localization Day. 

Even while a globalized economy – based on corporate profit and large-scale, technocratic control – is still accelerating, there are noticeable and profound shifts happening within people and local communities that speak to a very different future.

A greater appreciation for indigenous cultures, as well as a growing the desire for connection to community and the natural world, signify marked shifts in ways of thinking.

A market in Funchal, Portugal. Photo: Eva Elijas.

These shifts are perhaps more seismic than we realize; is the conventional narrative of Euro-centric ‘progress’ broken? Are we beginning to do away with the idea that ‘success’ means high-rise living in centres of consumerism, competition, and urban isolation?

There are also practical shifts happening within communities, especially in the wake of COVID-19: a local food movement – including farmers’ markets, community gardens, CSAs and more – is flourishing, despite a dire lack of help from top-down economic policy. Meanwhile, community groups are forming networks of mutual aid and looking to strengthen their own local businesses.

A worldwide movement for localization is rising up to realign our priorities with our deeper human values, as well as with the needs of the planet. At its heart is a vibrant and flourishing local food movement, which is demonstrating its potential to feed the world while minimizing emissions and pollution and maximizing regenerative impact.

What is Localization?

Localization is about supporting local shops, local farms and farmers’ markets, local businesses. By shortening the distances between producer and consumer, local food systems dramatically reduce pollution, while increasing biodiversity and productivity, and providing more jobs per farm.

Related Post: Local Matters: Why I Shop Local, Eat Local and Support Local

Localizing our food systems is one of the most important things we can do for the wellbeing of people and our planet. Consider the fact that the US exports around 1.4 billion tonnes of beef every year, and imports roughly the same amount. Similarly, Australian nuts are regularly flown to China to be cracked open, only to be flown back again to be sold.

These examples of unnecessary and polluting trade are only the tip of the iceberg. The global food system – from clear-cutting to toxic pollution to food-miles – is responsible for up to 57% of all greenhouse gas emissions. This three-minute film reveals its disastrous, hidden effects. 


But food is just the beginning of a wider localization movement that includes business, finance, energy and education. It’s also about keeping money within the community, and investing in the place where you live – financially, emotionally, practically.

It’s not about eliminating international trade, but about reducing the power of unaccountable corporations. And it’s about pressing for policy change: to shift taxes, subsidies and regulations that currently favour a small number of global giants to support instead a multitude of businesses and industries that are more transparent and adapted to place.

Related Post: Farm-to-Fork: A Global Look at the Slow Food Revolution

Localization offers an economic strategy to reweave the fabric of local communities, democratize economic activity, regenerate ecosystems, and meet our fundamental needs for connection to one another, to nature, and to meaningful work.

“Localization goes beyond left/right politics to address fundamental human needs and the structures required to meet them,” says Helena Norberg-Hodge, a pioneer of the emerging localization movement, author of Local Is Our Future: Steps to an Economics of Happiness and Executive Director of Local Futures. “Strengthening local economies is a win-win-win strategy, simultaneously restoring environmental health, building community and securing livelihoods.”

Local Food Feast campaign

To celebrate and raise awareness about the transformative power of local food systems, a worldwide Local Food Feast campaign is at the centre of this year’s World Localization Day efforts.

Hundreds of feasts are taking place across the globe this month. They are celebrating diverse local traditions, even as they raise awareness about the worldwide localization movement. They are thus an important symbol of a decentralized but united movement for change.

Media release submitted by Local Futures. For more information visit

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Cover image by Anna Tarazevich.

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