The ERIAFF Working Group on “Agroecology”

Welcome to the Agroecology working group!

Introduction

The European Commission proposed a European partnership on Agroecology in early 2019, “because we believe that agroecology can provide a powerful contribution to long-term responses to the climate, biodiversity, environmental, economic and social challenges that our society is facing”. Moreover, “understanding agroecosystems better, learning to work more with ecosystem services and less with external synthetic inputs, is key to enable a transition to more sustainable farming”. The potential benefits of this would not stop at the farm gate. Agroecology can also “be the basis of more resilient farming systems, more closely connected to society that would deliver sufficient, healthy and nutritious food to people, while respecting planetary boundaries and rewarding farmers better”. The initiative aims to make a lead contribution to the objectives of Europe’s Green Deal, fits well with the orientations for Horizon Europe and could be of high relevance in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis.

Agroecology practices should engage various stakeholders: farmers, researchers, policy makers who together should jointly developed the solutions to the problems they face in their regions.

Agroecology practices should take into consideration the different characteristics of farming systems and their environment and their interactions.

It is to say that the challenges to face are broad and involve, among others key agricultural issues such as soil health, climate change adaptation and mitigation, biodiversity.

Additionally, the Agroecology concept involve many fields non-only scientific but also social as the citizens should be aware that adopting more ecological and sustainable practice can improve the quality of life and reduce biodiversity losses.

Main objectives

  • Supporting Regions in positioning and collaborating in the frame of the European Partnership on Agroecology, Living Labs and Research Infrastructures is the main goal of the ERIAFF Agroecology Working Group.

  • By proactively cooperate, European Regions can play an important role in providing place-based elements to the broader scope of the EP AELLRI.

  • Furthermore, ERIAFF can gather several representatives from different fields: policy, research, agriculture and environment, industry, education who are key actors in developing solutions towards a more agroecological and sustainable transition.

The cooperation among the members should lead to:

  • connect relevant regional initiatives and actors

  • support the implementation of European projects

  • facilitate the coordination of regional programmes and funding

Challenges to address

Among the challenges identified by the European Commission on Agroecology, the proposed working group aims at addressing the following:

  • To share experience among the Regions and the Regional stakeholders on agroecological practices
  • To increase the cooperation among Regions and the Regional stakeholders (academia, research institutes etc.) on agroecological practices to:
    • Build partner consortia to respond to future calls for proposals (Horizon Europe, Operational Groups EIP AGRI, Life Programme, Erasmus and others of interests)
  • To contribute to the future European Agroecology Partnership: to this end we will organise some meeting with the DG AGRI to be informed on the state-of-the-art
  • To deepen the new concepts of “Living Labs” and “Lighthouses”
  • To increase awareness of the stakeholders about agroecological practices and themes
  • To collaborate with other networks dealing with Agroecology issues such as: Agroecology Europe
  • To have more information about other European universities offering masters on agroecology (i.e. Wageningen, University of Pollenzo and other universities to be identified) in order to understand how they work with farmers and their regional ecosystems
  • To map agroecological practices in Europe (this activity has already started at an Italian level)
  • To be informed and possibly cooperate with the two actual ongoing Horizon 2020 projects on agroecology:
    • AE4Europe: Agroecology for Europe– CSA H2020 2021-2023)
    • ALLREADY: The European Agroecology Living Lab and Infrastructures Network Preparatory Phase – CSA H2020 2020-2023 (ERIAFF is member of the Expert Advisory Board of the Project)