How to implement agroecology as a systemic adaptation response

The Challenge


There is a wealth of compelling scientific evidence that hunger, climate change, biodiversity loss, as well as land and water degradation are not only systemic but also interrelated crises, which reinforce each other in their intensity. The consequences of these multiple crises for global food security are severe. In 2021, an estimated 702 to 828 million people – or respectively around 8.9 to 10.5 percent of the world’s population – were suffering from hunger.

This number is estimated to increase in the upcoming years. Climate change, in particular, is expected to heavily impact agricultural landscapes in the different world regions, as a major driver of crop failure and growing food insecurity. At the same time, agriculture itself further contributes to climate change, biodiversity loss, and to land and water degradation.

Therefore, policymakers often face difficult trade-offs in managing the equally important goals of safeguarding food security and rural livelihoods while also protecting and restoring critical ecosystems. Additionally, countries must meet international commitments in the area of environmental and climate change-related policies, as agreed to in various multilateral processes, such as the Rio Conventions or the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

These diverse commitments add to the complexity of political decision-making. Yet, efforts to address the multiple environmental crises by different policy communities remain primarily in isolation from each other. As a result, a holistic adaptation of the global food system to the changing environmental and climatic conditions is still an outstanding task.


The solution


To ensure the long-term survival of the growing world population while staying within planetary boundaries, systemic and crises-responsive approaches to produce sufficient and highquality nutrition are urgently needed.

The purpose of this brief is to suggest one such approach: implementing agroecology to enhance Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) in the agricultural sector. Agroecology supports food security and rural livelihoods within agricultural landscapes in a sustainable and nature-friendly way.

Against this background, this Policy Brief outlines five key messages for decision-makers on how to strengthen agroecology as an ecosystem-based adaptation approach in the agricultural sector. The central idea behind this Paper is to synergize the achievement of multiple national-level targets and commitments, including food security, climate adaptation, biodiversity protection, as well as sustainable land and water management.


Five key messages


  • Crises-responsive and nature-friendly food systems depend on a systemic transformation along the whole supply chain.
  • The formation of alliances for change is needed to strengthen agroecology as an adaptation response.
  • Circular knowledge transfer across sectors and scales supports farmers’ resilience in diverse landscapes.
  • Long term success of climate resilient agroecological innovations requires an enabling environment.
  • Strategic adaptation funding and local responsive financial support for the agricultural sector are at the core of ensuring food security.

Author: Jes Weigelt, Fergus Sinclair, Harald Lossack, Friederike Mikulcak, Lina Staubach, Erinda Pubill Panen

Publisher: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

Language: English

Year: 2023

Ecosystem(s): Agricultural Land

Location(s): Global

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