Diverting investment to agroecology

Thanks to intense advocacy efforts behind the scenes, the Policy Dialogue and Advocacy team has succeeded time and again in making a big impact. The most recent success started with a study on investments in agroecology.

 

One of the most effective recent initiatives of the Policy Dialogue & Advocacy team was the impetus to establish the Transformative Partnership Platform (TPP) on Agroecology.

Martin Grossenbacher, Editor

Organic agriculture has made impressive developments internationally in recent years. There were 3.4 million certified organic producers in 2020, and almost 75 million hectares of agricultural land were farmed organically by the end of the year1. Yet sustainable methods have a harder time gaining traction than conventional agriculture. As Biovision President Hans Rudolf Herren stated at the presentation of the 2020 “Money Flows” study: “Most governments still favour the ‘Green Revolution’ approach under the misconception that industrial agriculture is the only way to produce enough food. But these approaches have failed. Radical change is needed – and this requires more money for agroecology.”

Leverage where it counts

This is what the Policy Dialogue and Advocacy (P&A) team set out to do after the presentation of the study on investing in research for agroecology. “We held many in-person meetings with decision-makers and participated actively in conferences and online events. With the help of ‘Money Flows’, we looked behind the investments and showed which obstacles need to be removed so that more funding can flow into agroecology,” explains P&A Programme Manager Charlotte Pavageau. Doing so has explicitly integrated agroecology in East Africa into government extension services for farmers, for example, and has brought together major research and education institutes. Kenya’s largest university is even planning to establish a department of agroecology. ETH Zurich held a series of lectures on agroecology in 2021, and the newly founded Zurich Knowledge Center for Sustainable Development (ZKSD) launched a research programme on agroecology. “Our greatest success in Switzerland, however, was with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)”, notes Matthias Geck, who worked on the programme. “SDC analysed its global programme on food security based on our study. As a result, it has decided to double the funding for agroecological projects in the coming years.”

Financially, however, the establishment of the Transformative Partnership Platform (TPP) on agroecology has been the study’s greatest impact. Its members include leading research organisations, major institutional donors and key UN agencies. On the initiative of the TPP, numerous large agroecological research projects have been set up worldwide with a funding volume that now reaches around 100 million euros. “For us, the study was a powerful means to an end,” says Stefanie Pondini of the P&A team, summarising what has been accomplished. “As a relatively small organisation, we were once again able to achieve great things by pulling the right levers.”

1 “The World of Organic Agriculture 2022”, data from 190 countries in 2020, FiBL/IFOAM