Press release by the Agroecology Coalition and the Agroecology TPP following the Agroecology Theme Day 

A high-level panel of speakers, including country permanent representatives to the United Nations, scientists, and practitioners gathered in the event “Prospects for achieving equitable food systems through agroecology”, organized by the Agroecology Coalition and the TPP on Agroecology on 14 September at the Millenium Plaza Hotel in New York. 

The hybrid event was attended by more than 250 participants who actively discussed evidence, metrics, equity and power issues on agroecology and how these can be effectively linked to science and policy. It was moderated by Oliver Oliveros (Coordinator, Agroecology Coalition) and Rachel Bezner Kerr (Professor, Department of Global Development, Cornell University).  

This event, held one week before the 2023 SDG summit in New York, happened at a crucial juncture: after the July 2023 UN Food System Summit Stocktaking Moment in Rome and before December 2023 COP 28 in Dubai, where food is high on the agenda. The speakers observed that there is momentum around transforming food systems, and it is therefore a good moment to put agroecology on the table as a topic of discussion.  

During the meeting, it was highlighted that: 

  • There is a lot of evidence supporting the feasibility of agroecology solutions; 
  • Agroecology can also help in tackling many inequalities currently affecting food systems such as wealth disparity and unequal access to food and gender inequality;
  • It is unacceptable that farmers operate in a space in which the field is extremely imbalanced; 
  • There is a need to incentivize farmers that are really adopting agroecological practices;
  • There is a need for serious reallocation of research and development resources, not only to researchers but also to practitioners and farmers to jointly understand what works where, why and under what conditions;
  • We need political support and concrete policy changes to make agroecology work; 
  • We can’t assess progress in agroecology with the same metrics used for traditional agriculture, because of the several positive externalities that those can’t calculate.
  • The present climate crisis has added to the other challenges we already face that is why we must pay particular attention to agroecology, which is one of the fittest responses to climate change as it promotes more equitable food systems.

The event has been streamed online. The raw recording can be viewed here. Additional edited footage will also be made available shortly.  

Below is a collection of quotes from each speaker. 

Oliver Oliveros, Agroecology Coalition Coordinator: “Agroecology provides sustainable solutions to issues of soil degradation, climate, biodiversity, food security and nutrition, including precarious livelihoods and social inequalities faced by farmers and food system workers. It is a powerful lever for the sustainable transformation of food systems, in a fully compatible way with the SDGs, the Paris Agreement, the Global Biodiversity Framework and Land Degradation Neutrality objectives.” 

Nathalie Broadhurst, Deputy permanent representative of France to the UN: “France has been very committed to promoting agroecology […]. Since the launch of the Coalition, we have been fully committed to promoting agroecology in different fora, such as the Biodiversity COP […]. It’s important to keep the momentum going on agroecology and expand it wherever we can.”

Fergus Sinclair, Chief Scientist, CIFOR-ICRAF, Co-convenor of Agroecology TPP: “Agroeocology is a combination of cutting-edge science and traditional practice… Over the last couple of years there has been a lot of evidence published on the feasibility of agroecological solutions […] this gives us real confidence that these are solutions that can be adopted globally”

Jemimah Njuki, Chief of Economic Empowerment, UN Women: “I will highlight some of the inequalities that we need to consider as we think about agroecology as a transformational approach in our food systems. 1. Inequality in access to safe and nutritious foods. […] The people who produce the food that we eat are hungrier than everyone else. […] 2. Wealth and poverty. […] By 2030, if we continue as we are now, 360 million women are going to be living in extreme poverty. 3. Gender inequality: gender equality and food system transformation are intertwined, and we cannot achieve one without the other. […] 4. Impact of climate change on countries and people that are contributing the least to it.”

H.E. Ambassador Gabriel Ferrero y de Loma-Osorio: “What is needed to advance agroecology? I want to point out three things: 1. Evidence: Growing evidence about the relationship between adopting agroecological practices and not just yields but other societal outcomes is extremely important; 2. Financing: it is unacceptable that farmers operate in a space in which the field is extremely imbalanced. This means remunerating, rewarding those farmers that are really adopting agroecological practices […] with a share of the climate financing and public support that rewards their practices; and 3. Political support: political support is important and I hope that the Committee on World Food Security policy recommendations have contributed in the last couple of years and will continue in the future.” 

H.E. Prof. Bitange Ndemo, Kenyan Ambassador to Belgium and the European Union: “One of the most significant international inequity issues is the wealth disparity between developed and developing countries. […] The global trade rules, because of the power dynamics and the economic system, often favour the rich nations, disadvantaging the poor countries in international markets. Fair trade practices and addressing economic inequalities between nations are essential components of international equity efforts.” 

Alex Awiti, Senior Agroecology Policy and Advocacy Advisor, CIFOR-ICRAF: “While the agroecological principles and approaches are sensible and morally imperative, they are not inevitable, they are not self-executed. You need measures within policy institutional and bureaucratic operators and across global intergovernmental systems – such as the UN – to make this work. While agroecological principles show promising results, they tend to be under-researched and under-resourced.”

Irish Baguilat, Coordinator, Asian Farmers Association: “To foster co-innovation and transformative research, it’s important for our governments, for research institutions and other mainstream actors to acknowledge and valorize our knowledge and experience as experts in our own field and recognize and accept that the realities in the ground differ from one locality to the other and also for enablers and actors to have a thorough understanding of our reality and recognize the solutions that we have already developed over the years.”

Mary Crossland, Livelihood Systems Associate Scientist, CIFOR-ICRAF: “One of the key obstacles in upscaling agroecology is that measuring its performance that allows for a fair comparison with alternatives is not very easy. Common practice has been measuring a narrow set of metrics often focusing on productivity and economic performance. Agroecological systems provide environmental and social benefits, not just economic ones, so assessing them just in terms of production and economic benefits misses the whole point of agroecology.” 

Mariana Wongtschowski, Sector Director Caring for the Earth, Porticus Foundation: “When you talk about the politics of knowledge, when you talk about understanding complexity, this means serious relocation of research and development resources, not only to researchers but also to practitioners and farmers to jointly understand what works where why and under what conditions.” 

H.E. Ambassador Maritza Chan Valverde, Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations: “We need to achieve greater sustainability of food systems especially production and consumption. […] It is unconceivable that those who produce our food could be among the poorest in the world. It’s immoral. I would like to invite more countries to be part of building solutions for the strengthening of agroecology as a basis of the development of sustainable food systems.” 

Minister’s Counselor Diamane Diome (Senegal): “The present climate crisis has added to the other challenges we already face […] that is why we must pay particular attention to agroecology which is one of the fittest responses to climate change […] as it promotes more equitable food systems[…] We need national policies in agroecology…[…]Africa is determined to be more self-dependent by encouraging the local processing of agriculture products so that the continent produces what it consumes and consumes what it produces. The continent is in demand of partnerships that are tailored to achieve such goals.”

Notes to the editors: 

The results of the roundtable discussions are currently being elaborated and will be shared later.

Media contacts: Fabio Ricci, Communication Officer for the Transformative Partnership Platform on Agroecology;  

Valentina Pavarotti, Communications Officer, Agroecology Coalition, 

Find out more about the Agroecology Coalition here and about the Agroecology TPP here