During a panel discussion organized by Food Tank, the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), experts discuss what it will take to scale agroecological practices in the food system.
The event is part of a series of panels with themes inspired by Global Alliance’s Seven Calls to Action to transform the food system. Moderated by Ruth Richardson, Executive Director of the Global Alliance and Danielle Nierenberg, President of Food Tank, each conversation features members of the United Nations Food Systems Champions Network.
The sixth Call to Action focuses on enabling environments that allow agroecology to flourish. Panelists include Emile Frison, Member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food); Helena Leurent, Director-General of Consumers International; Denisa Livingston (Diné Nation), organizer of Diné Community Advocacy Alliance and Slow Food International Indigenous Councilor of the Global North; Vijay Kumar Thallam Rythu Sadhikara Samstha (RySS); and Lana Weidgenant Deputy Director of Zero Hour International.
Richardson explains that one of the reasons agroecology is so transformational is that it has multiple benefits “from restoring ecosystems to building climate resilience, from ensuring food security and nutrition to promoting sustainable livelihoods, from protecting biodiversity to upholding human rights.”
To allow agroecology to take hold and scale up, however, the panelists argue that education at all levels is key.
Livingston, for example, emphasizes the importance of knowledge that is held by and shared within Indigenous communities. “My recommendation is to focus on the intergenerational that we have, that we’re experiencing, and the knowledge transfer that needs to occur from the elders to the youth,” she tells Food Tank.
Frison also hopes to see these knowledge bases shared with policymakers, who can support and help scale up agroecology and regenerative approaches. “Many people claim that there is not enough evidence, but they don’t want to see the evidence on the table,” Frison tells Food Tank. He believes there is still a limited understanding of agroecology but hopes to see this change.
Leurent also believes that consumer demand can promote the uptake of regenerative farming, but more education is needed to help the public understand the impacts of their purchasing decisions. She calls for “investment in ways that consumers receive information that helps them with their choices and helps them understand the way healthy diets and sustainability can be built.”
The panelists also argue that enabling these farming practices requires inclusivity as well as stronger connections that span generations, countries, and sectors.
“Aside from supporting women, smallholder farmers, and Indigenous peoples in agroecology, we need to make sure we’re also supporting young people who are active in agroecology and regenerative portions,” Weidgenant tells Food Tank.
Thallam agrees, arguing that when these diverse groups have agency and are empowered to act, change will be possible. “Each one is a powerful lever. If all of them come together, we will see an explosion,” he says.
Thallam recognizes that this will take time to build power and transition to agroecological farming methods, but he stresses that this shift must begin now.
“Regenerative agriculture, agroecology is the best solution for climate change. If you ask me, it is the only solution,” Thallam tells Food Tank. “But we have to scale it up as quickly as we can.”
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