The global food system is at a crossroads. Agriculture must meet the challenges of hunger and malnutrition – against a backdrop of population growth, increased pressure on natural resources including soils and water, the loss of biodiversity, and the uncertainties associated with climate change. While past efforts focused on boosting agricultural output to produce more food, today’s challenges – including climate change – demand a new approach.
A transition is needed to more sustainable food systems– food systems that produce more, with more socio-economic benefits and with less environmental consequences. In many countries agriculture has been seen as an enemy of the environment, but there is increasing recognition that a regenerative, productive farming sector can provide environmental benefits and services while creating rural employment and sustaining livelihoods.
Agroecology is based on applying ecological concepts and principles to optimize interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment while taking into consideration the social aspects that need to be addressed for a sustainable and fair food system. By building synergies, agroecology can support food production and food security and nutrition while restoring the ecosystem services and biodiversity that are essential for sustainable agriculture. Agroecology can play an important role in building resilience and adapting to climate change.
Agroecology is based on context-specific design and organization, of crops, livestock, farms and landscapes. It works with solutions that conserve above and below ground biodiversity as well as cultural and knowledge diversity with a focus on women’s and youth’s role in agriculture.
To harness the multiple sustainability benefits that arise from agroecological approaches, an enabling environment is required, including adapted policies, public investments, institutions and research priorities. Agroecology is the basis for evolving food systems that are equally strong in environmental, economic, social and agronomic dimensions.