Industrial food systems are one of the key drivers of biodiversity loss today. Bottom trawling the oceans, large scale hydropower for irrigation and land acquisitions for palm oil threaten marine, freshwater and forest ecosystems across the planet. An argument that we need to “feed the world” is often used as the reasoning behind such activities. Yet evidence suggests that family farmers currently provide over 70% of the world’s food. These systems are being undermined in a move to less biologically and culturally diverse, and more chemically intensive approaches, which not only destroy ecosystems but which marginalise women and indigenous peoples, increase debt and poverty and reduce food security.
The AgroEcology Fund (AEF) is a multi-donor fund (constituted 19 donors from the US, Europe and Asia) set up to support agroecological practices and policies. It has an ambitious vision:
In thirty years, robust rural and urban communities with thriving economies will offer dignity and livelihoods for all food producers as well as the ability to adapt to and mitigate environmental change. Biodiversity and the earth’s ecosystems will be conserved not only in wild areas, but in cultivated areas as well. Local cuisine will be celebrated, produced by people gleaning knowledge of agroecology from elders and scientists alike and drawing on the creativity of all. Governments and financial institutions will fully support regenerative and restorative economies and ecosystems as well as rights protections for human beings and nature. Everyone will have access to healthy, affordable, and diverse foods harvested from fair food systems that are governed locally by both producers and consumers. Cultural diversity and the role of farmers as stewards of natural resources will be encouraged and respected. Fair food economies will be good for people and the planet, leading to the halt of climate change. In thirty years, agroecology will be the model for food systems, while industrial agriculture will be remembered only in history books and museums
It aims to achieve this vision by funding collaborations that support viable food systems, promote economic wellbeing and human rights of small farmers and their communities, and mitigate climate change through low input agriculture featuring sustainable soil and water use. It links organisations and movements that advance agroecological solutions locally, regionally and globally. With the guidance of international advisors deeply embedded in the agroecology movement, the Fund supports some of the most effective farmer organizations, advocates and researchers in the field of agroecology.
Ultimately, the fund seeks to shift the paradigm away from destructive industrial agricultural practices to a sustainable food system that promotes better health and environment for people and planet.
Synchronicity Earth has been a contributory donor to the AgroEcology Fund since 2014.