SE086 Re-thinking and Re-shaping Food Systems through Agroecology: CFS policy convergence on Agroecology and Food Systems & Nutrition as the key opportunity to chart the transition to a truly sustainable future


  • CFS Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples' Mechanism (CSM)

Many recognize that current food systems are highly disfunctional. Still, food systems have never been an explicit entry point of policy interventions, as these have rather focused on some of their particular components, such as agricultural production, industrial transformation or nutrition. Considering the multiple public objectives food systems serve, there is great potential for systemic policy reformulation in taking a holistic approach to food systems transition. Their disfuctionality therefore provides the opportunity for profound systemic transformations.

By combining scientific ecological principles with centuries of peasant knowledge and experience, agroecology can offer a guiding vision for imagining new food systems. Its practices are locally adapted, and diversify farms and farming landscapes, increase biodiversity, nurture soil health, and stimulate interactions between different species, such that the farm provides for its own soil organic matter, pest regulation and weed control, without resort to external chemical inputs. Agroecology promotes more localized food systems centred on the agency of local food producers, therefore offering a concrete alternative to the industrial food and agriculture system. But agroecology is also about creating fundamentally different farming landscapes and livelihoods, and radically reimagining food systems that are diversified, resilient, healthy, equitable and socially just. It is a science, a practice and a foundational vision for an inclusive, just and sustainable society.

On these premises, the side event aims to explore how best the CFS could seize a historical opportunity and strengthen the obvious synergy between the two policy convergence processes to be concluded by 2020. Indeed, the CFS Food Systems and Nutrition Guidelines are the first intergovernmental negotiation to establish a food system approach to the realization of the right to food, one that recognizes the multiplicity of public objectives that food systems serve. Once the proper synergy with the Agroecology policy convergence process is established, the Guidelines may provide critical opportunities to re-affirm the multidimensional contribution of smallholder agriculture, promote agroecology, implement the UN Declaration of the rights of peasants and concretize the combined aspirations of the UN Decade on Family Farming and the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, with a particular emphasis on women's rights and youth perspectives.

However, the side event will also explore the governance challenges in ensuring real policy coherence from a systemic food system perspective, one that obviously interconnects closely with many other different intergovernmental processes. This calls for new modalities that ensure proper dialogue, interaction and cooperation between different institutions.

Key speakers/presenters

  • Mr. Victor Suarez, Undersecretary of Agriculture, Mexico
  • Ms. Iridiani Seibert, La Via Campesina, Brazil
  • Ms. Molly D. Anderson, Professor, Middlebury College, USA
  • Mr. Rodolfo Gonzalez Greco, Coordinadora Latinoamericana de Organizaciones del Campo (CLOC), Argentina


  • Ms. Joana Dias, ACTUAR/CPLP, Portugal

Main themes/issues discussed 

  • Agroecology as transition paradigm for economy, society, environment and modes of production
  • Agroecology and feminism
  • Impacts of current food systems on biodiversity and climate
  • There are no global food systems. Currently some are being strengthened, but some others are being undermined, more in particular the ones that promote human rights and biodiversity.
  • Issues of trade, governance and employment related to current food systems
  • CSM’s vision for Food Systems and Nutrition
  • Mexico’s presentation on the so-called “4th transformation”
  • Governance challenges in ensuring real policy coherence from a systemic food system perspective
  • Presentation of the policy process on Agroecology

Summary of key points

  • Agroecology from a smallholder’s perspective is a way of life, of being and of producing. All these dimensions are interrelated
  • Agroecology contributes to the production of “real food”, food which is healthy and diverse according to each region. This comes in hand with their exchange at local markets
  • Agroecology is a science, based on ancestral knowledge. It also generates social technology.
  • Agroecology presumes access to natural resources: land, territories, local seeds and water.
  • Agroecology is innovation, but it must not be seen as a mercantile innovation to avoid “niche” where very few will have access to.
  • Women’s rights and the women’s perspectives must be ensured.
  • Democratic governance must answer peoples’ needs
  • There must be a change in the economic model in order to ensure agroecology. To make a political and social change, neoliberalism must be fought against in order to fulfill human rights and ensure the wellbeing of the population
  • Mexico as a transitional agroecological model of production, passing from an input agriculture to one of integrated knowledge.
  • The past must not be only idealized: we need to retrieve ancestral knowledge, but also recover knowledge in hand with science
  • Youth wants to do agroecology, but issues of migration and wealth distribution are obstacles in that regard.

Key take away messages

  • Incentives and public policies should be targeted towards agroecology
  • Women are the primary food producers while also preparing food for their families. Women have an essential role in the construction and transition towards agroecology. Therefore, agroecology and feminism are two fundamental pillars to ensure food sovereignty.
  • In the transition towards food systems approach, the agriculture model must be just, healthy and sustainable.
  • Policy making must be transdisciplinary, tasks must be taken up by all the State’s secretaries and ministries.
  • External pressure (mining, forest burnings…) is very strong and impacts on the possibility of agroecology at local level. Therefore, agroecology must also be seen through a wider perspective
  • Agroecology without neoliberalism at multilateral level: policies must be at the public interest. There is a risk of agroecology being in vogue: big enterprises might depoliticize agroecology.
  • Agroecology must always be linked with peasant and indigenous agriculture and their respective rights.
  • We must think of future generations and have a wide vision of transition processes.
  • There is a need to prevent undue influence from those actors in the private and corporate sector that do not comply with human rights. We must be worried about privatization takeover.
  • Change must happen at local level, but policies must also be changed to avoid the undermining of sustainable, healthy and just transitions.


The contents of this page is provided by the Side Event organizers and does not reflect the opinion of CFS