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A just transition to agroecology

The global food crisis, rising inequality and the triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution are stark reminders that maintaining the status quo is no longer viable. We urgently need to embark on a just transition towards economic systems that are fair, healthy, and sustainable.

In a new briefing paper FIAN International examines the concept of a just transition from the right to food and nutrition perspective. It argues that only a systemic, multisectoral and human rights-based transition can guarantee a safe, sustainable, and just future for all. A just transition must address socio-economic inequalities, including gender inequalities and transform processes of marginalization and exploitation that have always benefitted the same groups.

The rights of women, Indigenous Peoples, workers, peasants, fishers, pastoralists, and other small-scale food producers and communities must provide the parameters for a truly equitable, just, and sustainable transformation of food systems.

“The crucial role that agroecology plays in such a transition has not yet been properly recognized, and is not reflected in existing regulatory frameworks,” said briefing author Sibylle Dirren.

Drawing upon the arguments of United Nations experts and concrete experiences from diverse communities, the briefing outlines specific legal and policy actions that governments can take to facilitate a just transition to agroecology.

Perpetuating inequalities

Industrial food systems are based on and perpetuate power imbalances and inequalities. They contribute to climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, and overall environmental degradation. Roughly one third of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions stem from industrial food systems. Pesticides and chemical fertilizers used intensive industrial agriculture are responsible for poisoning an estimated 385 million peasants and agricultural workers annually.

The pressing need for a transformation of industrial food systems has gained broad acknowledgment, including recognition from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the Committee on World Food Security (CFS).

Several UN Special Rapporteurs on the right to food and nutrition have highlighted the confirmed benefits and advantages of agroecology. They have underscored the capacity of agroecology to substantially reduce excessive reliance on pesticides and make optimal use of natural resources to fulfil the right to food. Recent research also indicates that reducing or entrirely eliminating the use of chemical fertilizers in agriculture can result in decreased greenhouse gas emissions and a reduction in toxic pollution.

“Agroecology, a form of agriculture and food production, stands out for its low carbon emissions, conservation of ecosystems, and positive impact on the livelihoods of peasants and other small-scale food producers, while also increasing their agency,” said Dirren.

To support a transition to agroecology, states must adapt binding transition plans that include gender-sensitive support mechanisms for rural populations and Indigenous Peoples, in line with UNDRIP, UNDROP, CEDAW and ILO conventions. The knowledge, practices, and innovations of Indigenous Peoples, peasants, small-scale fishers, pastoralists, and other rural people must be recognized and their right to effective, meaningful and informed participation guaranteed throughout the transition process.

For more information or media interviews please contact Tom Sullivan, FIAN International Communication & Campaigns:


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