The recent Declaration of the International Forum for Agroecology, Nyéléni, Mali (27 February 2015) represents “diverse organizations and international movements of small-scale food producers and consumers, including peasants, indigenous peoples and communities (together with hunter and gatherers), family farmers, rural workers, herders and pastoralists, fisherfolk and urban people.” According to the declaration, the peoples and organizations represented “produce some 70% of the food consumed by humanity. They are the primary global investors in agriculture, as well as the primary providers of jobs and livelihoods in the world.”
The declaration outlines the integral role that agroecology must play in creating equitable and healthy food systems while at the same time stabilizing, mitigating and allowing adaptation to climate change. As explained in the declaration, replacing current industrial systems with agroecological systems would drastically reduce waste, pollution and biodiversity loss of all kinds. It would also ensure food systems that provide all people with a healthy diet.
The declaration refutes claims that industrial agriculture can be made “sustainable” by adding a few agroecological methods to its fundamental “toolkit” of expensive and proprietary inputs (fossil fuel, pesticides, artificial fertilizers, GMOs etc.) and its reliance on industrial-scale machinery and large-scale monoculture systems.
The declaration states: Popular pressure has caused many multilateral institutions, governments, universities and research centers, some NGOs, corporations and others, to finally recognize “agroecology”. However, they have tried to redefine it as a narrow set of technologies, to offer some tools that appear to ease the sustainability crisis of industrial food production, while the existing structures of power remain unchallenged. This co-optation of agroecology to fine-tune the industrial food system, while paying lip service to the environmental discourse, has various names, including “climate smart agriculture”, “sustainable-” or “ecological-intensification”, industrial monoculture production of “organic” food, etc. For us, these are not agroecology: we reject them, and we will fight to expose and block this insidious appropriation of agroecology.
According to the declaration, the goal of agroecology must be to transform — not conform to — the industrial model by providing an alternative model of food production. The agroecological model outlined in the declaration provides a pathway for restoring planetary health on many levels — from the individual to the political, social and ecological.