This Symposium comes at an opportune time as climate change, continued food insecurity and rural poverty present myriad challenges to sustainability. Agroecology, especially when paired with the developing principles of food sovereignty and food justice, offers opportunities to address all of these problems to an extent not matched by other approaches or proposals.
[Agroecology is] a well-grounded science, a set of time-tested agronomic practices and, when embedded in sound socio-political institutions, the most promising pathway for achieving sustainable food production. Agroecology integrates multiple fields into a unique “trans-discipline”, drawing on ecology, agronomy, political economy, and sociology, among other fields. It can be considered a science, a set of practices, and a social movement for distributive and procedural justice. In fact, without these elements of justice—which are often lacking in other approaches (for example, “climate-smart agriculture” or “sustainable intensification”)—no approach can be scientifically assessed as “sustainable” according to most established definitions of sustainability. The procedural justice element has been associated with the growing conceptualization of and movement for “food sovereignty”—the right for people to design and decide on the shape of their own food system within their own localities, to the maximum extent practicable, with the maximum possible participation.
We therefore call upon FAO member states and the international community to build upon the proceedings of this Symposium in order to launch a UN-system wide initative on agroecology as the central strategy for addressing climate change and building resilience in the face of water crises: an initiative centered around social, cultural, and food sovereignty issues in agriculture and food systems.