Friends and Colleagues
messages from agroecology session at G-STIC 2017
Global Science, Technology and Innovation Conference (G-STIC) 2017 (www.gstic.org)
was held in Brussels from 23rd to 25th October.
It aimed to accelerate the development, dissemination and deployment
of technological innovations that enable the achievement of Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs).
thematic session on agriculture and food focused on ‘Agroecology for
Sustainable Food Systems’. The session was organised by the Third
World Network and the South Centre.
key findings of the session, presented at the closing plenary, are
There is a need for a paradigm shift in agriculture to diversified
agroecological systems as they can address multiple challenges, facilitated
by supportive public policies, a rights-based approach and collective
action; both producers and consumers have important roles to play.
The application of ecological principles to the design and management
of agroecosystems manifest in various practices that can be locally
adapted to farmers’ needs and circumstances, while being accessible,
affordable, socially acceptable, environmentally sound and gender
sensitive; such technology assessment criteria are relevant to any
agricultural technologies & innovations.
Evidence is particularly strong on the ability of agroecology to deliver
strong and stable yields by building ecological, social and climate
resilience, and in delivering nutrition and secure livelihoods, in
the places where needed most, and to the peoples who need these most.
Agroecology technologies and practices build on farmers’ and indigenous
peoples’ knowledge and innovation; they require bottom-up, participatory
approaches in R&D, dissemination and extension, including through
farmer-to-farmer networks and farmer-scientist collaborations.
identified to overcome the barriers to a shift towards agroecological
practices include (1) reorienting agriculture policies and significantly
increasing funding to support agroecology; (2) dismantling incentives
and subsidies for industrial and high-emissions agriculture; (3) refocusing
research and development to bottom-up approaches that recognize farmers’
knowledge; and (4) extending efforts towards agroecology, while at
the same time strengthening existing farmers’ knowledge and innovation.
are pleased to share below the key messages of the session, which
are drawn from a background paper prepared for the conference.
131 Jalan Macalister
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for Sustainable Food Systems
2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes that bold and transformative
steps are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and
resilient path. Numerous challenges such as persistent hunger and
malnutrition, climate change and environmental degradation, and ever-tightening
constraints on resources mean that no less than a transformation of
our agricultural and food systems is needed.
G-STIC 2017 thematic session on agriculture and food will focus on
‘Agroecology for Sustainable Food Systems’. We chose this specific
focus as the paradigm shift towards diversified agroecological systems
is increasingly gaining recognition as one that couldenable substantially
better food production, while providing a set of farmer-friendly,
regenerative solutions that can realize more resilient agricultural
practices and provide people with access to sufficient and healthy
food under changing climate conditions.
agriculture’– the input-intensive crop monocultures and industrial-scale
animal feedlots that dominate agriculture – has successfully produced
large volumes of foods, but this has come at a great cost to the
environment, human health and animal welfare, while doing little
to address the root causes of poverty and hunger.
outcomeshave been generated on multiple fronts, such as persistent
undernourishment and malnutrition while others are obese and overweight;
environmental degradation and pollutionthat threaten the resource
base that agriculture depends on; lossof agricultural biodiversity;
high greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change;
inequities in access to food; and the marginalization of smallholder
farmers, their practices, rights and knowledge systems.
is neededis aparadigm shift towards diversified agroecological
systems.Agroecology applies ecological principles to the design
and management of agroecosystems. Its technologies diversify farms
and farming landscapes, increase biodiversity, nurture soil health,
enhance recycling, promote ecosystem services and stimulate interactions
between different species, such that the farm can provide its own
organic matter, pest regulation and weed control, without resort
to external inputs.
technologies and practiceshave consistently proven capable of
sustainably increasing productivity, rebuilding soil fertility and
sustaining yields over time, providing a basis for secure farm livelihoods,
especially for smallholders who constitute the majority of food
producers worldwide. Evidence is particularly strong on the ability
of agroecology to deliver strong and stable yields by building environmental
and climate resilience, and in delivering production increases in
the places where needed most. It can also help ensure adequate nutrition
through diverse diets.
the challenges of climate change to agriculture, agroecology
technologies and practices are particularly important as they diversify
farms and landscapes, build complexity into the system to provide
vital ecosystem services, increase organic matter and ensure good
soil structure, and improve water harvesting and water storage.
This provides farmers a means to spread risks during adverse and
extreme weather events, adapt to climate change and build climate
resilience. At the same time, many of the practices can also contribute
to mitigation in the agriculture sector.
is a science, movement and practicethat draws on social, biological
and agricultural sciences and integrates these with traditional
knowledge, farmers’ knowledge and indigenous peoples’ knowledge
and cultures. Its technologies are knowledge-intensive rather than
capital-intensive, and it is based on techniques that are not delivered
top-down, but developed on the basis of farmers’ knowledge and experimentation,
and through farmer-researcher participatory approaches.
play pivotal rolesin cultivating and providing food and nutrition,
holding knowledge about seeds, agricultural biodiversity and agroecology
technologies. Nonetheless, women and girls across the globe continue
to face many constraints and inequities based on gender. Overcoming
gender inequalities and empowering women can have powerful social
and economic impacts, delivering significant improvements to agricultural
production, food security, child nutrition, health and education.
technologies and practices are able to meet key technology assessment
criteria: they are technically feasible, low-cost and affordable,
socially acceptable, locally adapted and environmentally sound.
The principles of agroecology are applied in diverse technological
forms, according to the biophysical and socio-economic needs and
circumstances of farmers. Innovations are developed with the participation
of farmers, through collective sharing of knowledge and know-how,
and the flexible nature of the technologies allows them to respond
and adapt accordingly.
emphasizes the capability of local communitiesto experiment,
evaluate, and scale up innovations through farmer-to-farmer research,
sharing of experiences and grassroots extension approaches. However,
few resources and policy support have been directed to agroecology
despite its potential to address the multiple challenges facing
agriculture. The barriers to scaling up and scaling out agroecology
need to be addressed, while a facilitative policy environment is
needed to effect change and ensure greater impacts.
for agroecologyneeds to be based on recognition that some technologies,
innovations and knowledge systems developed by farmers and indigenous
peoples are on par with those generated in formal institutions.
Recognition of diverse sources of knowledge builds on acceptance
of farmers as equal partners in research and development, not mere
passive users of technologies generated by academia, government
institutions and the private sector.
could significantly contribute to achieving the SDGsin an integrated,
comprehensive and holistic manner that will directly involve and
benefit those whom the 2030 Agenda aims to uplift. It has strong
potential to contribute to meeting SDG 2’s specific targets, such
as: ending hunger and malnutrition, doubling agricultural productivity
and incomes of small-scale food producers, ensuring sustainable
food production systems and implementing resilient agricultural
practices, and maintaining the genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated
plants and farmed and domesticated animals and their related wild
species. In addition, it can contribute to many of the other SDGs.