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The potential of agroecology to build climate-resilient livelihoods and food systems

Leippert, Fabio; Darmaun, Maryline; Bernoux, Martial; Mpheshea, Molefi; with contribution, by; Müller, A.; Geck, M.; Herren, M.; Irungu, W.; Nyasimi, M.; Sene, J. M.; Sow, M.; Sylla, I. and Termote, C. (2020) The potential of agroecology to build climate-resilient livelihoods and food systems. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO and Biovision, Rome, Italy.

[thumbnail of leippert-etal-2020-The-potential-of-agroecoloy-FAO-Biovision-Report.pdf] PDF - English

Document available online at: https://doi.org/10.4060/cb0438en


Climate change has severe negative impacts on livelihoods and food systems worldwide. Our future climate according to latest scenarios seriously undermine current efforts to improve the state of food security and nutrition, especially in sub-Sahara Africa. To address this to its full extent, there is an urgent need for transformational change of our food systems towards more sustainability and resilience. Agroecology could play a vital role here. As a response to FAO’s governing bodies’ call for increased evidence-based work on agroecology, this study aims to elaborate on existing links between agroecology and climate change. It provides evidence on the technical and policy potential of agroecology to build resilient food systems. Inspired by the idea that transformation will only happen through a coordinated approach among all levels, this study was jointly developed by a broad set of actors from UN agencies (FAO), research institutes (FIBL, Bioversity, ISRA) and CSOs (Biovision, Enda Pronat, ICE) and thus combines evidence from a broad range of backgrounds and perspectives.
The overall research question of this study was: How can agroecology foster climate change adaptation, mitigation and resilience through practices and policies?
To provide a robust and evidence based answer to this we analysed three different dimensions:
1. International policy arena, in particular in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture;
2. Peer-reviewed scientific studies on agroecology applying a meta-analysis; and
3. Two case studies in Kenya and Senegal that assess both, the policy potential of agroecology in respective national settings and the technical potential of agroecology to foster climate resilience on farm-level.
The main findings of the study are:
- Robust scientific evidence demonstrates that agroecology increases climate resilience. Success factors for this are that agroecology builds on:
a) ecological principles, in particular on biodiversity, overall diversity and healthy soils (meta-analysis and case studies results);
b) social aspects, in particular on the co-creation and sharing of knowledge and fostering traditions (case study results).
- More than ten percent of the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by UNFCCC member states mention agroecology and consider it a valid approach to address climate change. The climate potential of agroecology is furthermore backed by the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land and the 2019 HLPE report of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) (int. policy analysis result).
- The interdisciplinary and systemic nature of agroecology is key for its true transformational power. However these characteristics are also the main challenges for both, conducting comprehensive research and policy revisions: typically research concepts and policy processes focus on the productive dimension with selective sectorial views (meta-analysis and policy analysis results).
The key recommendations from this study are:
- Given the sound knowledge base, fostering agroecology to build resilience should be recognized as a viable climate change adaptation strategy.
- Barriers to the scaling-up of agroecology need to be addressed: amongst others, improved access to knowledge and understanding of systemic approaches should be fostered across sectors, stakeholders and scales.
- Further comparative research on the multidimensional effects of agroecology is needed.
- Agroecology’s transformative resilience-building potential depends on its holistic and systemic nature which goes beyond a set of practices and includes: a social movement for producers’ empowerment and a multidisciplinary scientific paradigm.

EPrint Type:Book
Keywords:climate change, resilient, agroecology, Department of Socioeconomics, sustainability, FiBL35172, Abacus
Subjects: Environmental aspects > Air and water emissions
Research affiliation: Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Crops > Crop protection > Agroecology
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Sustainability > Climate
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Socio-Economics
International Organizations > Food and Agriculture Organisation FAO
Deposited By: Muller, Adrian
ID Code:38490
Deposited On:07 Oct 2020 09:13
Last Modified:21 Jan 2021 16:55
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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