‘Coalition of the willing’ takes agroecology forward at the Asia Pacific Symposium on Agrifood System Transformation

Those who can enact change now should do so – and lead the way, say representatives from across the region
View from Bukit Bujang, Bungo district, Jambi province, Indonesia. Tri Saputro/CIFOR

Related stories

Science is increasingly finding evidence of the effectiveness of agroecological practices — such as mulching, intercropping, agroforestry, biological pest control and composting — as ways to address the interwoven global challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, human development, and food security and nutrition (FSN). Seventy-eight percent of studies in a recent evidence review found that agroecology has a positive effect on FSN, and those benefits increased the more widespread those practices were.

These data (and more) were featured at a hybrid side event on 6 October 2022 at the Asia Pacific Symposium on Agrifood System Transformation in Bangkok, Thailand. The session – titled ‘Translating UNFSS commitments into actions: Focus on the Coalition for Transforming Food Systems through Agroecology’  first introduced the Agroecology Coalition and the Transformative Partnership Platform on Agroecology (AE-TPP) before presenting case studies from Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Nepal, India and The Pacific Community (SPC). Through their interventions, country representatives raised awareness of agroecology solutions that are working and called for increased political commitments from those who are ‘willing’ to make changes through agroecology now.

“The Agroecology Coalition is a coalition of the willing,” said Fergus Sinclair, Chief Scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF), co-convenor of the AE-TPP, and interim co-coordinator of the Agroecology Coalition. “You might notice that agroecological recommendations like those in the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) report got considerably watered down in the ensuing CFS policy recommendations because a large number of countries had to agree on the text. With a coalition of the willing, we can take things forward with those that are happy to do so, rather than wait for everyone to agree on something before we act.”

Already, over 40 countries and 80+ international organizations have joined the Coalition, and the AE-TPP is currently acting as interim secretariat to support actions around the world, said Sinclair. Its work is aligned with the 13 principles of agroecology that incorporate FAO’s 10 elements.

His Excellency, Dr. Saruth Chan began elaboration of case studies from across the region by talking about the Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Intensification Consortium (CASIC) in Cambodia. Since 2019, CASIC has been working to bring actors together to increase agroecology through innovative governance structures and incentives. Chan is the Undersecretary of State for the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Cambodia.

As part of its broader efforts to track progress on agroecology recommendations from the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), the AE-TPP helped arrange Cambodia’s presentation on CASIC at the CFS50 Plenary, the following week. HE Saruth Chan’s intervention at CFS50 was praised by Gerda Verburg, the UN Assistant Secretary-General moderating the event, for showing how stakeholders can move from thought to action.

   Fergus Sinclair and Pierre Ferrand in discussion at the side event
   Alisi Tuqa presents agroecology initiatives from The Pacific Community with HE Saruth Chan from Cambodia in the background

Other presentations from Coalition member states included an intervention from Pham Thi Hanh Tho, Vice Director of the Center for Agrarian Systems Research and Development (CASRAD), on the Vietnamese Strategic National Action Plan for Responsible, Sustainable and Transparent Food Systems (2021-2030), as well as a talk on how China is using biotechnology to promote agroecology by Dr. Xu Jianchu, professor at Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Country Representative for ICRAF.

Esther Penunia, General Secretary of the Asian Farmers Association (AFA), also presented on The Million Voices Initiative, a citizen science campaign that was launched by the AE-TPP to involve smallholder farmers, workers and food consumers in generating scientific evidence relating to agroecology.

After the Coalition presentations, Sabnam Shivakoti, Joint Secretary of the Food Security and Food Technology Division, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Nepal; Alisi Tuqa, Food Systems Programme Lead, Land Resources Division, SPC; and Muralindhar Ganduri, Co-lead of the Andhra Pradesh Community-Managed Natural Farming (APCNF) and Rythu Sadhikara Samstha (RySS) India, gave talks on what their countries are doing to support agroecology transformations.

“Our food systems are facing more challenges than ever,” concluded moderator Pierre Ferrand, Agriculture Officer at FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. “But despite this bleak situation, [the speakers have shown] there is a window of opportunity to accelerate holistic approaches such as agroecology.”

The side event discussed in this blog was aligned with the implementation of the new FAO Strategic Framework, which supports the 2030 Agenda with actions that promote better food production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life.

Watch Dr. Saruth Chan’s intervention at the 50th Committee on World Food Security at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOALInzbUec

Watch an abstract from a plenary session of the Asia Pacific Symposium with Fergus Sinclair, in which he lays out the rationale behind agroecology and its potential to improve livelihood and landscape resilience at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRWoA87dVko

The blog can also be found on the Agroecology TPP website at https://glfx.globallandscapesforum.org/topics/21467/news/1201622

Copyright policy:
We want you to share Forests News content, which is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). This means you are free to redistribute our material for non-commercial purposes. All we ask is that you give Forests News appropriate credit and link to the original Forests News content, indicate if changes were made, and distribute your contributions under the same Creative Commons license. You must notify Forests News if you repost, reprint or reuse our materials by contacting forestsnews@cifor-icraf.org.