Agroecology: Transdisciplinary and Transformative

We perceive agroecology as an approach that seeks to integrate ecological science with other academic disciplines (e.g. agronomy, sociology, history, etc.) and knowledge systems (e.g. local, indigenous, etc.) to guide research and actions towards the sustainable transformation of our current agrifood system.

This definition embodies a transdisciplinary-oriented agroecology, integrating different knowledge systems in a search for solutions to challenging current agrifood system issues.  It also supports the notion that agroecology is an approach that expresses itself as a science, a practice and a social movement, and that it is most effective when these three dimensions coalesce. With a commitment to transdisciplinary and inclusive analysis, members of the ALC work with smallholder farmers, farmer organizations and cooperatives, non-governmental organizations, government agencies and companies to define research questions and then employ transparent processes for data collection and analysis, with the aim to support transformations and actions.

Articulations of agroecology from our network

“Agroecology is the answer to how to transform and repair our material reality in a food system and rural world that has been devastated by industrial food production and its so-called Green and Blue Revolutions. We see Agroecology as a key form of resistance to an economic system that puts profit before life. […] Our diverse forms of smallholder food production based on Agroecology generate local knowledge, promote social justice, nurture identity and culture, and strengthen the economic viability of rural areas. As smallholders, we defend our dignity when we choose to produce in an agroecological way.” Declaration of the International Forum for Agroecology, 2015

In its report, the High Level Panel of Experts defines agroecology as, “approaches that favour the use of natural processes, limit the use of purchased inputs, promote closed cycles with minimal negative externalities and stress the importance of local knowledge and participatory processes that develop knowledge and practice through experience, as well as more conventional scientific methods, and address social inequalities. Agroecological approaches recognize that agrifood systems are coupled social–ecological systems from food production to consumption and involve science, practice and a social movement, as well as their holistic integration, to address [food and nutritional security] (p. 14). 

“Food is not a commodity but a human right, recognized by states through different legal instruments. By recognizing this right, states have the obligation to respect, protect and guarantee the people’s right to food — especially of food producers — to guarantee the right to decent work and employment as well as to a fair wage, based on the principles of social justice and human dignity,” First Assembly of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty of Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Agroecology is a way of life and the language of Nature, that we learn as her children. It is not a mere set of technologies or production practices. It cannot be implemented the same way in all territories. Rather it is based on principles that, while they may be similar across the diversity of our territories, can and are practiced in many different ways, with each sector contributing their own colors of their local reality and culture, while always respecting Mother Earth and our common, shared values.” Declaration of the International Forum of Agroecology, 2015

Further reading:

Anderson, C.R., Bruil, J., Chappell, J., Kiss, C., Pimbert, M.P. (2021). AgroecologyNow! Transformations for a More Just and Sustainable Food Systems. Palgrave-MacMillan. Open Access.

Méndez, V.E., C.M. Bacon, R. Cohen and S.R. Gliessman (Eds.) (2016) Agroecology: a transdisciplinary, participatory and action-oriented approach. Advances in Agroecology. CRC Press/Taylor and Francis.

Salvador, R.J. & V.E.Méndez (Guest Editors) (2015) New pathways to sustainability in agroecological systems. Elementa Forum. Elementa: science of the anthropocene 3: in progress.