Enfoques agroecológicos y otras innovaciones en favor de la sostenibilidad de la agricultura y los sistemas alimentarios que mejoran la seguridad alimentaria y la nutrición - Consulta electrónica del HLPE

16.10.2017 - 01.12.2017

Durante su 44ª sesión plenaria celebrada del 9 al 13 de octubre de 2017, el CSA solicitó al Grupo de alto nivel de expertos en seguridad alimentaria y nutrición (HLPE, por sus siglas en inglés) redactar un informe sobre “Enfoques agroecológicos y otras innovaciones en favor de la sostenibilidad de la agricultura y los sistemas alimentarios que mejoran la seguridad alimentaria y la nutrición”, que se presentará en la 46ª sesión plenaria del CSA en octubre de 2019.

Como parte del proceso de redacción, el HLPE está organizando una consulta electrónica para recabar opiniones y comentarios sobre el alcance y elementos básicos del informe, descritos a continuación, según lo propuesto por el Comité Directivo del HLPE. 

 

Por favor tenga en cuenta que, de forma paralela a esta consulta, el HLPE desea recibir candidaturas de expertos interesados en incorporarse al equipo del proyecto para este informe. El Equipo de proyecto será seleccionado a finales de 2017 y desarrollará su labor hasta junio de 2019. La convocatoria para la presentación de candidaturas está abierta hasta el 15 de noviembre de 2017; visite la página web del HLPE http://www.fao.org/cfs/cfs-hlpe/es para obtener más información.  

Borrador de alcance del informe del HLPE propuesto 
por el Comité Directivo del HLPE

La innovación ha sido un motor importante para la transformación de la agricultura en las últimas décadas y será fundamental para satisfacer las necesidades de una población que aumenta rápidamente y hacer frente a la creciente presión sobre los recursos naturales (incluyendo la biodiversidad, la tierra y el agua) en un contexto de cambio climático. La agroecología y otros enfoques, prácticas y tecnologías innovadoras pueden desempeñar un papel crucial para fortalecer la agricultura y los sistemas alimentarios sostenibles a fin de luchar con éxito contra el hambre, la malnutrición y la pobreza y contribuir avanzar en la Agenda 2030 para el Desarrollo Sostenible.

Crear sistemas agrícolas y alimentarios sostenibles que mejoren la seguridad alimentaria y la nutrición (SAN) no sólo requerirá desarrollar nuevos conocimientos y tecnologías sino también: subsanar las carencias tecnológicas; facilitar el acceso y el uso efectivos de las tecnologías existentes; y desarrollar soluciones específicas para cada contexto, adaptadas a los sistemas alimentarios y a los ecosistemas locales.

Más allá de los aspectos técnicos, este informe evaluará la importancia de los enfoques ascendentes (bottom-up) y centrados en las personas, basándose en diferentes formas de conocimiento, así como en el papel de la buena gobernanza y las instituciones sólidas. Estudiará las condiciones propicias necesarias para fomentar las innovaciones científicas, técnicas, financieras, normativas e institucionales para mejorar la SAN.

Este informe estudiará la agroecología, descrita simultáneamente como una ciencia, un conjunto de prácticas y un movimiento social, como ejemplo de dichos enfoques integrales e innovadores que combinan ciencia y sistemas de conocimientos tradicionales, tecnologías y procesos ecológicos, y que involucran a todas las partes interesadas relevantes en mecanismos de gobernanza inclusivos, participativos e innovadores.

Este informe analizará también las limitaciones y riesgos potenciales de los enfoques innovadores para la SAN, la salud humana, los medios de subsistencia y el medio ambiente. Enfrentados a importantes desafíos medioambientales, económicos y sociales, los responsables de las políticas deben comprender cómo optimizar y ampliar las aportaciones de la agroecología y otros enfoques, prácticas y tecnologías innovadoras, abordando al mismo tiempo estos riesgos potenciales asociados.

El informe del HLPE abordará las siguientes cuestiones:

  • ¿Hasta qué punto pueden la agroecología y otros enfoques, prácticas y tecnologías innovadoras mejorar la eficiencia de los recursos, minimizar la huella ecológica, fortalecer la resiliencia, asegurar la equidad y responsabilidad social, y crear empleo decente -especialmente para los jóvenes- en la agricultura y los sistemas alimentarios?
  • ¿Cuáles son las controversias e incertidumbres relacionadas con las tecnologías y prácticas innovadoras? ¿Cuáles son sus riesgos asociados? ¿Cuáles son los obstáculos para la adopción de la agroecología y otros enfoques, tecnologías y prácticas innovadoras y cómo abordarlos? ¿Cuáles son sus consecuencias para la SAN en sus cuatro dimensiones (disponibilidad, acceso, utilización y estabilidad), la salud y el bienestar humanos, y el medio ambiente?
  • ¿Qué reglamentos y normas, qué instrumentos, procesos y mecanismos de gobernanza se necesitan para crear un entorno propicio para el desarrollo e implementación de la agroecología y otros enfoques, prácticas y tecnologías innovadoras que mejoren la seguridad alimentaria y la nutrición? ¿Cuáles son las consecuencias de las reglas comerciales y los derechos de propiedad intelectual en el desarrollo e implementación de dichas prácticas y tecnologías?
  • ¿Cómo evaluar y supervisar las posibles consecuencias en la SAN, ya sean positivas o negativas, de la agroecología y otros enfoques, prácticas y tecnologías innovadoras? ¿Qué criterios, indicadores, estadísticas y parámetros se requieren?
Francisca Acevedo CONABIO, Mexico
08.12.2017

Here I write some ideas related to the general draft scope:

Use biodiversity to put off pressure on agriculture to positively impact food security and nutrition.

Old traditional approaches combined with new knowledge to counteract new pressures such as climate change.

Strenghthen smallholder farming systems which already provide around 80% of all food produced worldwide. This can be done by fortifying agronomic performance, using new tools such as genomics to respond to specific needs that have not been resolved otherwise, undertaking participatory plant breeding in the environments in which these smallholders farm, stimulating local and regional markets where these farmers can sell surplus produce (after assurring their own family consumption).....etc.

It would be very useful to discuss and clearly define what is meant by "sustainable agriculture and food systems", these terms are much used nowadays but not necessarily mean the same to all stakeholders. 

It would be interesting to give some attention to those areas that are centers of origin and/or centers of genetic diversity of crops, these are the areas which include the genetic diversity found in the native crop diversity present but also that which is represented by the wild relative counterparts of these crops. It is in these specific areas in which the domestication and diversification processess are still alive and under way, mainly thanks to the continuing efforts made by smallholder farmers through what we know as traditional agriculture.

 

 

Marzella Wüstefeld World Health Organization, Switzerland
07.12.2017

Thank you for this opportunity to provide comments on the proposed scope of the HLPE report on ‘Agroecological approaches and other innovations for sustainable agriculture and food systems that enhance food security and nutrition’.

We welcome that the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) has decided to play an important role in advancing this important topic and we see this as an opportunity to further strengthen CFS’s contribution to the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition over the next years until 2025.  

I would like to provide the following overall comment:

The analysis of the contribution of agroecological and other innovative approaches to meet future food demand in a sustainable manner should give attention to food in terms of quality in line with the outcomes of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), and contribute to the understanding of the protective benefits of agroecology and other approaches to increase dietary diversity and therefore generate improvements in nutrition and human health.

The HLPE report, therefore, shall address the following questions, to what extent can agroecological and other innovative approaches, improve production diversification and access to and availability of diverse nutritious foods in agriculture and food systems that enable healthy diets? I would like to underline the importance of healthy sustainable diets to shape the agriculture production and food system.

In a world that expects to welcome another 3 billion people to the middle class in a few decades, producing and eating more sustainably will be key. With reference to SDG 12, the links between production and consumption are important to sustainable food systems in order to have the richest possible food diversity on plates, sustainably sourced from the agroecological supported diversity that underpins agricultural systems. The HLPE report therefore would benefit from also including and addressing the importance of a diversified food production that enables healthy diets for food security, improved nutrition and health outcomes.

A healthy diet helps protect against malnutrition in all its forms, as well as noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Unhealthy diets are among the leading causes of risk of disease and premature mortality.

Today’s human diets evolved over time, being influenced by many factors and complex interactions driven by increased urbanization, changes in lifestyle and the evolution of food systems that affect the availability and affordability of healthy foods, influence preferences, beliefs and cultural traditions, as well as geographical, environmental, social and economic factors that all interact in a complex manner and shape individual dietary patterns.

Therefore, promoting a diversified food production enabling balanced and healthy diets, is an essential base to reach the global targets of the World Health Assembly, the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition and the 2030 Agenda. This requires involvement across multiple sectors and stakeholders, including government, and the public and private sector.

Governments have a central role in creating a conducive environment that enables people to make the right food choice for healthy dietary practices possible. Effective actions by policy-makers include creating coherence in national policies and investment plans, including trade, food and agricultural policies, to promote a healthy diet and protect public health. This needs to include increased incentives for producers to diversify the food production in a sustainable environmental friendly way, and increase the production and retail of more diverse fresh products like fruits and vegetables, but also legumes, nuts and others that are part of a healthy diet. At national level countries are developing food based dietary guidelines that should be guiding also the food production side for more alignment with the food that is needed to support healthy dietary choices and improved nutrition for health outcomes.

The HLPE report should very clearly address the qualitative production issues of food commodities and foods under a sustainability and human health lens. In this way, the report could provide a substantial contribution to the understanding of the protective benefits of agroecological and other approaches to increase production diversity and dietary diversity and therefore supporting the access to and availability of food that enables healthy diets sustainably produced, for improved nutrition and health outcomes.

Reference is made to the outcomes of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) and the related recommendations in its Framework for Action. Reference is also made to the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition and its work programme action area 1 on Sustainable resilient food systems for healthy diets.

References

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). Global, regional, and national comparative risk assessment of 84 behavioral, environmental and occupational, and metabolic risks or clusters of risks, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. Published in The Lancet, September 2017.

United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition. In: Seventieth session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York, 15–28 September 2015. Agenda item 15 (A70/L.42; http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/70/L.42).

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Health Organization. Work Programme of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, 2016-2025 (http://www.who.int/nutrition/decade-of-action/workprogramme-2016to2025/en/).

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Health Organization. Second International Conference on Nutrition Conference Outcome Document: Framework for Action (http://www.fao.org/3/a-mm215e.pdf).

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Health Organization, Strengthening nutrition action. A resource guide for countries based on the policy recommendations of the second international conference on nutrition. Rome and Geneva, in press.

WHO 2017: Double-duty Actions for Nutrition. Policy brief. Geneva 2017. http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/double-duty-actions-nutrition-policybrief/en/

WHO 2015: Healthy diet factsheet. http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/nutrientrequirements/healthydiet_factsheet/en/

María Rosa Mosquera Losada Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Spain
04.12.2017

Dear Sir,

Thanks indeed for the document. Sorry for not being able to send it yesterday as I was abroad. I indeed like the document. May be, I would like, if possible, to add "agroforestry" in the wording, as the most easiest way among other documents to fulfill the planned objectives  of the documents. Please, see the justification in the attached draft.

Best

Rosa

María Rosa Mosquera Losada

Ver archivo adjunto: Proposal of changehlpe.docx
Cristina Grandi IFOAM Organics International, Italy
04.12.2017

IFOAM - Organics International contribution to the eConsultation for HLPE report on “Agroecological approaches and other innovations for sustainable agriculture and food systems that enhance food security and nutrition”.

IFOAM-OI welcomes the CFS members’ decision on requesting the HLPE to produce a report on “Agroecological approaches and other innovations for sustainable agriculture and food systems that enhance food security and nutrition”.

As the IAASTD Report clearly outlines, current farming and food systems are unsustainable in many aspects. These systems are responsible causing environmental pollution, soil degradation, overexploitation of water resources, biodiversity loss, weakened ecosystem services and the erosion of rural livelihoods. We urgently need to change it by a broad adoption of agroecological approaches in food systems.

IFOAM-OI appreciates that “beyond technical issues, the report will assess the importance of bottom-up and people-centered approaches, building on different forms of knowledge”. This bottom-up and people-centered approache should also be used during the drafting of the report with a large inclusion of the views of “agroecological farmers” and an inclusive process involving smallholders and rural communities.

It is important that agroecology is considered “simultaneously as a science, a set of practices and a social movement” and will be studied as an “example of holistic innovative approaches combining science and traditional knowledge systems, technologies and ecological processes, and involving all the relevant stakeholders in inclusive, participative and innovative governance mechanisms”.

However the inclusion of the too vague terms of “other innovations” on the report title could water down the report analysis and conclusions. In this sense, IFOAM-OI fully agree with the concerns expressed by Emile Frison and Miguel Altieri in their contributions and the proposal from CSM (Civil Society Mechanism) on how to asses “other innovations”.

As for the questions the HLPE report should address, we believe that an important space should be dedicated to the impact of these food systems on nutrition and people’s health (at rural and urban areas) as well as consumers’ interest in healthy foods.

Another critical issue in this report can be the definition or concept of agroecology. We think that although it is understood and interpreted in very different ways, the report should be based on the definitions coming from Miguel Altieri[1] , the social movements[2] and SOCLA[3]. We suggest that the Project Team should refrain from going into long debates about the definition anyhow.

Organic agriculture that is based on agroecology as a science, can offer the Project Team the results of about 100 years of experiences, applying these principles. Organic farmers have developed all sorts of innovations during this time. They have actively had to seek new ways of innovating, because the conventional system of agricultural research and advice did not cover the needs of the their sector. The research done allows to observe the performance of organic systems on resource efficiency, ecological footprint, resilience, yield, returns, nutrition, labour, etc.  and, at the same time, to identify the barriers (as lack of training or markets opportunities) to this broad adoption.  

IFOAM-OI will be available to feed the report process with the result of research on organic and agroecological systems and the long experience of the organic agriculture movement.

 

[1] Agroecology is the discipline that provides the basic ecological principles for how to study, design and manage agroecosystems that are both productive and natural resource conserving, and that are also culturally sensitive, socially just and economically viable (Altieri, 1995).

[3] Latin American Congress of Agroecology, Brasilia, October 2017 http://www.fao.org/fsnforum/cfs-hlpe/sites/cfs-hlpe/files/resources/The%...

 

Alastair Iles University of California-Berkeley, United States of America
02.12.2017

I have worked with agroecological and diversified (ecosystem-based) farming policies for the last six years. I am also a founding faculty co-director of the Berkeley Food Institute.

Many other contributors – including Marcia Ishii-Eiteman from PANNA, IPES-Food, Ernesto Mendez, and Antonio Roman-Alcala – have made excellent points that I would endorse in full. I will just underscore several key considerations for the FAO to take into account.

As the IPES-Food submission says, agroecology represents a system redesign that is opposed to monoculture agriculture. Olivier de Schutter’s Special Rapporteur reports and the IPES-Food report on the transition of agroecology have made compelling cases for why agroecology is critical to sustainable, fair, and nutritious food production globally. It is unnecessary to repeat this work. What would be valuable would be to:

(1) update our knowledge of innovative ways of practicing agroecology;

(2) understand how system redesign of farms and farming landscapes can happen in diverse places and geographies; and

(3) identify how political, institutional, civic, and policy innovations can help expand agroecology use (noting that the barriers are already abundantly known),

among other important gaps.

I agree with PANNA’s argument that agroecology should not be pitted against other “alternative technologies” but should be analyzed on its own ground. It would be inappropriate and distracting to try to study technologies and innovations outside agroecological and ecosystem-based methods. Such methods have already been studied at length in numerous, influential reports from governments, international institutions, and scientific agencies. Agroecology richly deserves its own recognition as a vibrant, sustainable, collaborative agriculture. As Marcia Ishii-Eiteman says: “We strongly urge the HLPE to maintain a clear-eyed focus on agroecology, for its potentially one-of-a-kind report.”

If innovations and technologies are assessed, they must be evaluated within the agroecological principles that researchers such as Steve Gliessman, Ernesto Mendez, and Miguel Altieri, along with many agroecological farmer movements, have developed. Agroecology should not be reduced to technical measures of yield and profit; instead, agroecological performance can be measured in terms of complex adaptive systems, food sovereignty benefits, ability to endure challenging environmental conditions, and other holistic dimensions. Food sovereignty ought to be woven in throughout the analysis. At present, the terms of reference do not clearly include food sovereignty and food justice.

The evidence considered in the analysis must include the knowledge and experiences of smallholder farmers, indigenous peoples, and social movements. There is, in fact, not one agroecology – there are many agroecologies that reflect the diverse farming systems in existence across the world. To enable this to happen, the range of expertise relied on must be diverse: it should include many farmers, anthropologists, geographers, ecologists, public health, and other experts. It should not simply be agronomists, economists, and policy analysts. And farmer movements must be treated as epistemically equal to technical experts in their knowledge.

Moreover, the project team itself must reflect this diversity. As Maywa Montenegro says, “The committee should strive for a diverse cross-section of race, gender, ethnicity, faith, and class in assembling the project team – but should strive to particularly represent those who may be most vulnerable (because they live close to the land) and who have the most experience in agroecology (reflecting accumulated knowledge and practice).”

There should also be extensive, public, and open sharing of draft findings and analyses, with ample time for people from all over the world to contribute their feedback. The project team’s work should be reviewed by farmer movements, social/civic organizations, and independent agroecological researchers in particular. This approach will strengthen the value and credibility of the final product.

As a scholar working with scientific and technological developments, I strongly urge that the process of collecting and evaluating data for use must be transparent and free from undue influence from industry and governments. In my experience, allowing industry groups and governments committed to industrialized agriculture to shape the analysis of possible pathways and benefits tends to lead to impoverished outcomes that simply reinforce the status quo. The FAO can use this rare opportunity to open new space for appraising how to nourish agroecology worldwide.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide some comments.

Alastair Iles

Salmeron Francisco Nicaragua
02.12.2017

In my view, Agroecology should be introduced as a holistic approach that not only include technological but also social, cultural and organizational innovations.  The social aspects are needed to overcome malnutrition hunger and poverty in a sustainable way. In Latin America a huge number of project had spent enormous amount of money to develop rural area taking into account mainly technical aspects and leaving behind the socials issues. This report should address the active grass root participation of the rural and urban families as the center of the agroecology development. In conclusion, Agroecology should be addressed from a multi-stakeholder approach to develop the technical and organizational innovations and promoting the local peasant movements seeking to establish themselves to be able to contribute to the public agricultural policies.

Another important issue is the Agroecology and territories. There is a need to expand the successful experiences of agroecology into a territory level in which the multi-stakeholders can participate to scaling up the agroecology.

Finally an important the education and research are paramount to enhance Agroecology. Formal and no-formal education are key issues to develop innovations from plot to regional scales. There is a need for an interdisciplinary approach into educational programs both formal and not formal programs. 

 

With kind regards,

Francisco Salmeron

M.Sc. Ecologial Agriculture. Wageningen University

PhD. Agronomy. Swedish Agricultural University (SLU)

 

 

 

Ilyas Siddique Network of Agroecological Agroforestry of Southern Brazil (Rede SAFAS), ...
02.12.2017

The Network of Agroecological Agroforestry Systems of Southern Brazil (SAFAS Network) has been coordinating research syntheses and systematization of practical knowledge of diverse stakeholders across Southern Brazil. An integrated, parallel focus has been outreach with decision makers ranging across scales from local land managers, through project technicians and coordinators to fiscal staff and public policy makers at municipal, state and federal levels.

Here we present comments that synthesize the experiences of these efforts of systematization that are directly relevant for the scope, project team, evidence, transparency, as well as principles and procedures of the HLPE report to the CFS.

Agroecology has outstanding potential to simultaneously and drastically reduce environmental and socioeconomic degradation associated with increases in productivity of single commodities in industrial monocultures of conventional farming, including for instance:

1)        Terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity loss;

2)        Contamination of soil, water and food with toxic pesticides;

3)        Loss of fertilizer nutrients resulting in eutrophication and nitrous oxide emissions;

4)        Floods and droughts;

5)        Direct GHG emissions and fossil energy dependency driving agricultural C debt;

6)        Loss of soil productive potential associated with the degradation of soil biological, chemical and physical fertility, soil erosion and desertification;

7)        Loss of agrobiodiversity and access to forest resources critical for food sovereignty, fuelwood, timber, medicinal products, etc;

8)        Erosion of food, nutritional and health sovereignty at household, regional, national and international scales;

9)        Displacement of smallholder farmers and indigenous communities with devastating socioeconomic and sociocultural impacts;

10)    Adverse impacts on gender, intergenerational and intercultural justice;

11)    Market concentration undermining democratic institutions and their pivotal role in food sovereignty and ecosystem stewardship.

Several technologies and innovations have been promoted with massive public and private investment in public relations, yet have potential to mitigate single or only a few of these environmental and socioeconomic costs, such as sustainable intensification, no-till agriculture, climate-smart agriculture, precision agriculture, etc. These technological fixes that maximize the gain in isolated functions ignore important social-ecological tradeoffs. Thus, such narrow-scoped technological fixes for single problems may exacerbate others, accentuating socioecological tradeoffs, frequently overcompensating single environmental gains by largely unevaluated collateral social and ecological damages.

By contrast, agroecology has tremendous and still largely untapped potential to simultaneously generate a portfolio of regulating ecosystem services to simultaneously mitigate the range of aforementioned processes of degradation, while amplifying and maintaining in the long run a diverse range of provisioning ecosystem services from the same land management units. Greater attention should be paid to the largely overlooked highly integrative agroecological approaches such as successional agroforestry, syntropic agriculture, agroecological animal husbandry, community supported agriculture, (peri-) urban agroecology, multi-stakeholder network-based participatory organic guarantee systems, short-circuit cooperative food commercialization schemes, all of which consistently outperform technological fixes in their social-ecological multifunctionality at low economic, social and environmental cost.

This way, the HLPE report could contribute in remarkable ways to substantially approach several of the Sustainable Development Goals, provided that agroecology is engaged with its full transdisciplinary scope and participatory, social movement base.

1)      The Scope of the report should adopt a transdisciplinary and participatory agroecological perspective that fully engages with the scientific and local knowledge, social movement and practical dimensions of agroecology. Specific technologies and innovations must be considered with regard to their social-ecological multifunctionality within agroecological systems and principles.

2)      The Project Team should include scientists with a demonstrated track record of crossing disciplinary lines and incorporating the complexity of agrifood systems in their analyses. The team should also include with an active voice non-scientist practitioners that include organized smallholder farmers, as well as social movements that have been actively developing and scaling out agroecology.

3)      The report should be mindful of what it considers Evidence, avoiding marketing and manipulative materials from corporate actors and their advocates. In addition, practical knowledge and experience from farmers and broad-based social movements should be included in addition to scientific evidence.

4)      Transparency at all stages and levels of this process is essential, and needs to involve rigorous disclosure conflicts of interest. It will be necessary for the FAO to share progress consistently and in a timely manner.

5)      This process should move forward with agreed upon Principles & Procedures determining governance and transparency over the project team's work, including total transparency of the review process, representation of differing points of view among authors, as well as "conflict resolution" processes.

November 30th,  2017

Ilyas Siddique, PhD

·    Coordinator of the Network of Agroecological Agroforestry of Southern Brazil (Rede SAFAS)

·    Professor of Agroecosystems,  Dept. of Crop Science;  Center of Agrarian Sciences;  Federal University of Santa Catarina

·    Permanent Faculty of the Postgraduate Programs in Agroecosystems  and Plant Genetic Resources

Donald Moore Global Dairy Platform Inc
01.12.2017

Dear HLPE,

Thank you for the opportunity to comment of the scope of the upcoming HLPE study on "Agroecological approaches and other innovations for sustainable agriculture and food systems that enhance food security and nutrition".

Attached please find a short submission from the Global Dairy Platform.

Kind regards

Donald Moore

Executive Director, Global Dairy Platform 

Faris Ahmed USC Canada, Canada
01.12.2017

USC Canada welcomes the opportunity to offer input into the HLPE’s agroecology report scooping process.  Our Seeds of Survival program, supports the agroecological practices of smallholder farmers in 12 countries around the world.  A major portion of the farmers we work with are women, youth, indigenous peoples and local communities - with strong and authoritative knowledge systems and time-tested practices which they use to protect and enhance agricultural biodiversity.  In doing so, they strengthen the resilience of their food systems, contributing equally to food security, climate adaptation and mitigation, nutrition and health, stronger rural livelihoods and economies, gender equality and justice.   

In a nutshell, this illustrates how multi-functional approaches to agroecology have a system-wide impacts.  In determining the scope of any research on agroecology, therefore, we recommend the HLPE take a broad, systemic approach – multi-disciplinary, multi-sectoral and inclusive of the key voices of food producers.

The process and methodology of the research is as critical.  The HLPE Steering Committee needs to pay particular attention to the composition of the Task Team:  it should be comprised equally of women and men, researchers and practitioners, South and North, and with particular attention to selecting individuals who are from food producer communities or organizations (smallholder farmer, fisher, pastoralist, indigenous peoples, etc) and can genuinely represent these knowledge systems at the table.   

How should the Task Team define Agroecology?  This conceptualization should come from those who have been practicing it already, and those who have been at the forefront of developing and scaling out farmer-led agroecological solutions and practices that have multi-dimenstional benefits, right across the SDGs.  There is ample documentation to support this framing by practitioners, particularly in the declaration and report of the 2015 Agroecology Forum at the Nyeleni Centre in Mali.

The HLPE sees Agroecology as ‘Science, Practice, Movement’.  We strongly support this framing, as it validates the inclusion of action-research and peer-to-peer learning that is very core to agroecology.  It also allows the appreciation of agroecology’s critical role in enhancing social cohesion, equity, justice – particularly for women, youth, and marginalized communities.  

We recommend that the HLPE work on agroecology be based on a human rights based framework, including the Right to Food, Farmers Rights, Women’s Rights, and other internationally recognized human rights principles.   Related to this, the research must also investigate agroecology’s link to food sovereignty:  how do agroecological approaches widen the choices and the diversity of options for food producers, and their rights to lands, territories, waters, seeds and the ecosystems in which they live.

Finally, given our work in agricultural biodiversity, USC Canada recommends that the HLPE investigate the impacts of agroeocological approaches on agricultural biodiversity, seed and genetic diversity.  How do agroecological  approaches  and practices enchance biological diversity, which is crucial to most of the SDGs.

Florence Mtambanengwe Zimbabwe
01.12.2017

Previously the negative impacts of industrial agriculture were masked and only related to water pollution, but in recent years, this has moved from the aquatic environments right to the dooor-step of the ordinary person, most of all women and children. Excessive use of chemicals and pesticides in food systems has undoubtedly brought along with it 'hidden' challenges in both health and nutrition among many innocent receipients. It is my belief that agroecology deserves as much attention as that is being afforded to climate change. Funding should be availed to research and extension to make this happen. A common understanding of the principles of agroecology need to be reached and operationalized to address current controversies around the concept.