Transformational Agroecology across Food, Land, and Water systems - Proposal

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Food systems should drive stability, food and nutrition security, poverty reduction, and economic
growth. Instead, not only have they failed to feed the 690 million people currently undernourished,
they are responsible for much of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, for deepening
social inequities, destroying biodiversity, polluting water sources, and depleting natural resources.
Despite two-thirds of hungry people living and working in rural areas and 475 million
of the 570 million farms globally being small-scale operations, >95% of research on agricultural
and food systems is irrelevant to small-scale farmers.

A redesign of food systems is urgently needed to simultaneously achieve ecological, economic,
and social sustainability. Agroecology is gaining prominence as an approach to achieve this
radical shift. Evidence demonstrates how agroecological approaches can contribute to
sustainable, resilient agricultural and food systems today and in the future.

Agroecology goes beyond demands for technical change, recognizing that enhancing the agency of farmers and FSAs (especially women and youth) is a prerequisite for transformative change.

Transformational agroecology across food land and water systems Initiative Proposal – Sept 28, 2021
However, despite many locally appropriate agroecological solutions at farm level, mechanisms
for scaling them to broader food, land, and water (FLW) systems are limited.
Barriers include: (i) insufficient evidence and lack of knowledge of what agroecological innovations work, where, when, and why; (ii) insufficient integration of required capacities and resources; (iii) lack of, or misaligned, policies, institutions, and governance practices; and (iv) lack of financial mechanisms.

This Initiative (the Agroecological Initiative (AE-I)) will provide evidence for the transformative
nature of agroecology and its broad applicability to FLW system change, including identification
of institutional innovations to promote uptake. By testing agroecological approaches across seven
different socio-economic-political geographic contexts, we will use learning on what
agroecological innovations work, where, and for whom, to craft replicable agroecological
transition models that can subsequently (2024-2030) be applied to the FLW systems of other
LMICs, eventually contributing to a critical mass capable of triggering broader-scale
transformation of the FLW systems throughout the Global South.

Quintero, M. and McCartney, M.

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