Cristina Grandi

IFOAM Organics International

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