FAO Launches Initiative to Scale Up Agroecology in Support of the SDGs
Peter Luethi, Biovision Foundation
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The Second International Symposium on Agroecology was held 3-5 April 2018 in Rome, Italy.

Participants discussed how Agroecology can be scaled up so that it delivers benefits for multiple SDGs.

They launched the 'Scaling up Agroecology Initiative' as a framework for concerted action and partnerships for Agroecology.

They also kicked off the Future Policies Award 2018 competition, which will recognize the best enabling policies for Agroecology.

5 April 2018: The Second International Symposium on Agroecology, organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), ended with the launch of a global initiative aiming to scale up agroecological production systems in support of the SDGs.

Agroecology integrates ecological and social concepts in the design and management of agricultural production and food systems, while optimizing interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment. The approach also aims to address the social aspects of a sustainable and fair food system. To promote the wider use of this approach, FAO convened the first International Symposium on Agroecology in 2014, followed by international and regional dialogues. The process culminated in the second International Symposium on Agroecology, held from 3-5 April, in Rome, Italy. The event aimed to synthesize the outcomes of the dialogues, launch the Scaling up Agroecology Initiative, and discuss key steps in implementing the initiative.

Attended by 700 participants from 72 countries, 350 civil society organizations and NGOs, and 6 UN organizations, the event also offered a platform for diverse stakeholders to discuss how the use of agroecology approaches can be enhanced around the world to contribute to achieving the SDGs. For example, in his summary of the event, Symposium Chair Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias stressed the multiple benefits of agroecology including for food security and nutrition, resilience, promoting health, protecting biodiversity and soil fertility, and mitigating climate change. FAO Director-General Graziano da Silva underlined the social benefits of agroecology noting that it strengthens “the role of family and small-scale farmers, fisher folk, pastoralists, women and youth.”

Participants supported the launch of the Scaling up Agroecology Initiative and asked FAO to develop a ten-year plan for implementation. The Initiative’s mission is to strengthen agroecology to “achieve equitable and sustainable food systems in support of the SDGs.” The first section provides background information on agroecology and the SDGs, followed by a section on challenges and opportunities in scaling up agroecology.

The third section provides a framework for concerted action. It contains concrete targets in three areas of work, including: knowledge and innovation for sustainable food and agriculture systems; policy processes for the transformation of food and agriculture systems; and building connections for transformative change. Section four discusses the way forward in implementing the Initiative, including through various types of partnerships, such as with UN agencies and bodies, governments and non-state actors. Two annexes describe the relevance of agroecology to different SDGs and their targets and the core principles of agroecology.

At the Symposium, FAO, the World Future Council (WFC) and IFOAM – Organics International, also launched the Future Policies Award to celebrate the best policies on agroecology. Given since 2010, the Future Policies Award recognizes the most visionary policies to tackle the most pressing challenges of humankind. This year’s award will focus on the best enabling policies for agroecology. The winners will be recognized in October 2018 during World Food Week. [FAO Press Release. 3 April 2018. Opening of the Symposium] [FAO Press Release. 5 April 2017. Closing of the Symposium] [Scaling Up Agroecology Initiative] [Symposium Website] [FAO’s Work on Agroecology: A pathway to achieving the SDGs] [WFC Press Release] [ClimateAction News Story]

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