In 2014, the FAO in Rome hosted the first International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition . In the wake of the symposium, several follow-up meetings were organised, also at the FAO’s initiative, on several continents. In Europe, the meeting was held in Lyon (France) on 25-27 October 2017, within the prestigious Isara University. Over 300 guests, representing farmers, technicians, researchers, students, national and international public institutions, civil society and NGOs attended this first Agroecology Europe Forum.
As a reminder, agroecology is understood as the implementation of ecological principles to agriculture, whether to produce food or other products, all of which is based on the management of agrosystems. This word encapsulates an agricultural concept whereby the scientific and social components of the ecosystem are taken into account. In other words, it is about creating a sustainable way of farming, able to feed the growing world population without jeopardising the environment and its natural resources. Naturally, it must also bring about economic viability to the farmers. The fundamental binding factor here is the soil.
Many issues were addressed during the Lyon Forum, particularly in an attempt to clarify the difference between agroecology and the other specific farming techniques such as organic farming, permaculture, agroforestry, etc. At the same time, the situation in Europe is far from uplifting. Indeed, agroecology is still very limited in scope and very much confined to a small number of areas. One of the discussions focused on how to maintain the autonomy of farmers while supporting them to make the transition towards agroecology. This is where the scientific realm and researchers have to step in.
This first meeting had nonetheless the merit of bringing together various stakeholders interested in agroecology as well as preparing the ground for the integration of environmental, social and political concepts into farming. While preserving its common goal of strengthening and boosting the role and practices of farmers and professionals already working in the field of agroecology, the Forum also sought to create an inclusive community of professionals, technicians and more generally of people who express an interest in agroecology. As a result, this first forum was not only crucial in defining a holistic reference framework but also in affirming that agroecology, while it is being debated in academic and political spheres, remains first and foremost in the hands of farmers and those that experience it on the ground.
Europe’s participation at the FAO’s Second International Symposium, to be held in Rome from 3 to 5 April 2018, and entitled “Scaling up Agroecology to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals” will be significant.
Further information: http://www.agroecology-europe.org/
A brochure entitled “Transitioning Towards Agroecology” is available in French and English and in four other languages (but not in Italian).