AgroEcology for Sustainable Food Systems in Europe


Lead Organization: Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience

Partner Organizations: The Consortium for Agroecology and Food Sovereignty (CAFS); Fondazione Italiana per la Ricerca in Agricoltura Biologica e Biodinamica (FIRAB); Bio-diversite; Bibliotheque d’ Echange Di usion d’Experiences (BEDE); AGRONAUTEN; GRAIN; European Coordina of Via Campesina (ECVC); and The Land Workers Alliance.

Location(s): Spain, France, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, Belgium; conferences and international exchanges in Romania, Uganda, Mali and India.

Award: $145,000 over 24 months (2014-2016)

This project created and spread agroecological knowledge for sustainable food systems in Europe, including in European overseas aid projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This project strengthened and federated a collaborative community of agroecology proponents among scientists, wo/men farmers, small medium enterprises and other citizens through workshops, scientific seminars, social media and web portals, farm visits, and farmer-scientist dialogues. 

Policy dialogue in the European Parliament in Brussels in September 2015, organised by CAWR, UK and ECVC, Belgium. Photo credit: Colin Anderson/CAWR.

Policy dialogue in the European Parliament in Brussels in September 2015, organised by CAWR, UK and ECVC, Belgium. Photo credit: Colin Anderson/CAWR.


  1. Promote the creation and spread of agroecological knowledge for sustainable food systems in Europe, - including in overseas aid projects of European countries that fund agricultural research & development in Africa, Asia and Latin America.  
  2. Develop circular systems that mimic natural ecosystems at different scales, - from individual farm plots to entire cities -, by using principles of agroecology, functional biodiversity, resilience, science, ecological clustering of industries, recycling and re-localized production, and short distribution chains between producers and consumers.
  3. Facilitate the emergence of an alternative paradigm for food and agricultural research based on principles of democracy, co-constructed and co-validated knowledge, cognitive justice, decentralization, and dynamic adaptation to highly diverse contexts.

Challenges that the Collaborative faced(s)

Some partners felt that it was a major challenge to get the government to support and spread their publications as an alternative vision for development, particularly a critique of climate change policies. Some expressed their concern that the current EU wide and global policies such as CAP and CETA are making it difficult to build on their work on agroecology. This issue is further augmented by the fact that agroecology as a concept is used even by actors that are working in industrial agriculture (e.g Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture (GACSA).


  • AGRONAUTEN, Germany produced a 138 page, richly illustrated and detailed report on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiatives in Europe, with the support of CAWR and with the international network for community supported agriculture, URGENCI. The printed version was shared with more than 500 people and 20 countries and an online version of the report was made available.

  • BEDE, France organized an international conference on methodologies (called ‘Field Labs’) for co-constructing knowledge on agricultural biodiversity, co-organised a three-day international gathering ‘Sow Your Resistance: Farmers' Seeds to Feed People’ in France; as well as a West African Regional Farmer Seed Festival in Djemini, Sénégal.

  • CAWR, UK co-produced a video and a companion article presenting social movement perspectives on agroecology. The article and video are available in English, French and Spanish. Another video series CAWR produced was in relation to the DARE EU Grundtvig project spearheaded by FIRAB. The video narrates stories on the experience with participatory research from the perspective of diverse knowledge holders, the struggles and opportunities they see in the co-creation of knowledge and telling of local stories on agroecology. So far the video has been viewed 4.800 times and hundreds of brochures were distributed.

  • CAWR, UK, ECVC, Belgium and LWA, UK organised a policy dialogue in the European Parliament in Brussels in September 2015 to promote the International Declaration on Agroecology crafted by social movements gathered in Nyéléni, Mali in February 2015 and call for policies that support agroecological farming practices in Europe.

  • FIRAB, Italy conducted the APIOB (Participatory Agroecology in Organic Horticulture) project, which included identification and testing of alternative farming techniques for enhancing soil fertility and weed management. The project was conducted in a participatory manner with a community of organic farmers, researchers and technicians. From the project six short videos were produced in Italian that address the concepts of collective innovation, agroecology and present the results of a participatory project on agroecological practices.

  • GRAIN, Spain published a report - The Exxons of Agriculture - on trade, seeds and climate policies that affect the capacities of small-scale farmers to feed the world. In December 2015, GRAIN released its book “The great climate robbery- "How the food system drives climate change and what we can do about it" in time for the climate summit COP21 in Paris.

international festival "sow your resistance: farmers’ seeds to feed people” in France, September 2015.  Photo credit: BEDE, France.

international festival "sow your resistance: farmers’ seeds to feed people” in France, September 2015.  Photo credit: BEDE, France.

On March 25-27, we met in St. Ulrich, Germany to launch the project: “Agroecology for Food Sovereignty.” Project partners met for an initial planning and methodological workshop. This productive meeting led to the solidification of a strategic work-plan based on five key areas of work including:

1) Research on small farm productivity;
2) Research on CSAs and solidarity economy in Europe;
3) Policy analysis + Policy dialogue + Analysis of European development aid;
4) Transmedia communication;
5) Transdisciplinary Research.

Our project connected to an ongoing partnerships between the consortium partners and past projects including the Democratizing Agriculture Research in Europe (DARE) project, the EU Cost Action on Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems in Europe (2013) and the St. Ulrich workshop on Democratising Agricultural Research for Food Sovereignty and Peasant Agrarian Cultures held in 2013. This project will support and strengthen partners’ ongoing work at local, national, regional and international levels.

Video for “Agroecology: voices from social movements”

This video explores the different perspectives of food providers on agroecology and the calls from social movements to embed agroecoogy in the struggle for food sovereignty. It focuses on the International Declaration for Food Sovereignty which has been advanced by social movements to claim agroecology as a bottom up practice, science and movement and the most important pathway towards a most just, sustainable and viable food and agriculture system.

Speech by family farmer Jyoti Fernandes at the Policy Debate in the European Parliament “Agroecological family farmers can become “the backbone of food security in Europe”

Jyoti Fernandez Farmer, from the U.K. Land Workers' Alliance European Coordination Via Campesina at Public Debate on Agroecology in the European Parliament in the European Paliament, Brussels September 17, 2015. Organized by European Coordination Via Campesina Thank you to the AgroEcology Fund for generously supporting this event and video.

FIRAB produced six videos of approximately 5 minutes each in Italian that respectively address the concepts of collective innovation, agroecology and a presentation of results connected to a participatory project on developing agroecological practices in organic horticulture in the Latium region of Italy”:

Apiob Concetto Agroecologia

Part 1

Part 2

Apiob Approccio Partecipativo

Part 1

Part 2

Apiob Componente Tecnica

Part 1

Part 2

Round 2Firas Nasr