On April 3-5, 2018, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will convene the Second International Symposium on Agroecology. The Symposium, titled “Scaling up Agroecology to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” will bring together leaders in governmental, inter-governmental, and non-governmental organizations, as well as foundations, academic institutions, and more. Being held at the FAO Headquarters in Rome, this event will focus on driving regional and national action to advance agroecology as a means of achieving the U.N. SDGs. The symposium will also coincide with the launch of a “Scaling-up Agroecology Initiative.”Food Tank’s President, Danielle Nierenberg, will be speaking on a panel titled “Innovative Markets, Food Systems and Cities,” along with Joan Ribó, the Mayor of the City of Valencia; Ugo Biggeri, President of Banca Etica, Fabio Brescacin, President of Natura Si, and Yunhao Wang, Director of the Green Food Development Center (GFDC). The Symposium’s three-day agenda also features numerous other panels, presentations, and discussions focusing on topics such as synthesizing themes and lessons from the Global Dialogue, emerging opportunities, the future of agroecology, and many more.
Among the organizations represented at the event will be the AgroEcology Fund (AEF), a multi-donor fund that has has awarded US$4.03 million over six years and that “aims to support viable food systems, promote the economic well-being and human rights of small farmers and their communities, and mitigate climate change through low input agriculture featuring sustainable soil and water use.” Their approach involves directing funds to advance agroecology, fostering political and economic environments conducive to growth in agroecological practices, elevating agroecology in global hunger discussions, and fostering collaboration among a range of stakeholders.
Agroecology is a movement and a set of practices that FAO describes as “based on applying ecological concepts and principles to optimize interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment while taking into consideration the social aspects that need to be addressed for a sustainable and fair food system.” FAO also highlights ten key elements comprising this approach, such as balance, co-creation of knowledge, recycling, and natural resources governance.
The first symposium, held in 2014, focused on enhancing and exchanging knowledge of agroecology, with presentations on topics such as scientific knowledge and experiences with agroecology in practice. Since then, FAO has involved over 1,300 stakeholders from 162 countries in a Global Dialogue about the importance of agroecology to factors including biodiversity, climate change resilience, sustainable development, nutrition, and livelihoods in rural areas. Building on this dialogue, the aim of the second symposium will be to “share and discuss policies that can help scale-up and scale-out agroecology in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”
(Danielle Nierenberg is President of Food Tank and an expert on sustainable agriculture and food issues. She has written extensively on gender and population, the spread of factory farming in the developing world and innovations in sustainable agriculture.)