09.04.2018 |

Symposium: Scale-up agroecology to transform food and agricultural systems

Family farmers must remain central to scaling up agroecology (Photo: CC0)

It is necessary to scale up agroecology in order to transform food and agricultural systems and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This was the message of the 2nd International Agroecology Symposium that came to a close in Rome on April 5th after three days of discussion and knowledge exchange and saw the launch of the “Scaling up Agroecology Initiative”. The event brought together more than 700 participants with representatives from 72 governments, around 350 civil society and other non-governmental groups, and six UN organisations. It builds on the first agroecology symposium held in 2014 at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome, followed by a series of regional meetings, which highlighted the important role agroecology can play.

On the last day of the event, the Chair of this year’s symposium, Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, summarised why agroecology is key to transforming food and agricultural systems: “Agroecology offers multiple benefits, including for increasing food security and resilience, boosting livelihoods and local economies, diversifying food production and diets, promoting health and nutrition, safeguarding natural resources, biodiversity and ecosystem functions, improving soil fertility and soil health, adapting to and mitigating climate change, and preserving local cultures and traditional knowledge systems”. However, despite many successful agroecological experiences in all regions of the world, there is still a lack of awareness among key decision-makers of the potential of agroecology to tackle to multiple challenges and contribute to achieving the SDGs. Therefore, the Chair’s summary also outlines a vision for the way forward for the scaling up of agroecology, including a list of urgently needed commitments from stakeholders. De Souza Dias called on governments to develop policy and legal frameworks to promote and support agroecology and sustainable food systems, and to remove “perverse incentives” for unsustainable agriculture. “It is critical that legal and regulatory frameworks are implemented in a way that ensures transformative change towards sustainable agriculture and food systems based on agroecology, and respects, protects and fulfills farmers’ rights and access to productive resources such as land, water and seeds.”

In his summary, de Souza Dias called on FAO to develop a detailed 10 year action plan for agroecology and to begin implementing the Scaling up Agroecology Initiative launched at the event. The initiative was presented in a 17-page document that shows the potential of agroecology to contribute to the 2030 Agenda, lists the key challenges and opportunities to the scale-up of agroecology, gives the core areas of work the initiative will focus on and explains how this should be achieved through a wide cooperation among a broad range of actors and institutions. “It’s time to scale up the implementation of agroecology,” FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said in his closing remarks. “We have succeeded in moving from talking about what is agroecology, to now having specific program targets to be achieved in the next few years, and strong support from civil society and those governments who have worked hard to make this symposium a success,” he added. Da Silva also highlighted that family farmers must remain central in this process: “When we speak of agroecology, we are not speaking of strictly technical matters. I would like to stress the social aspect, so when we say that we are going to strengthen the role of agroecology in FAO’s work, we are saying that we are going to strengthen the role of family and small-scale farmers, fisher folk, pastoralists, women and youth.” (ab)

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Donors of globalagriculture Bread for all biovision Bread for the World Misereor Heidehof Stiftung Hilfswerk der Evangelischen Kirchen Schweiz Rapunzel
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