Project description

The project ‘Agroecology for Food Sovereignty brought together academic and grassroots organisations to conduct research, raise awareness and strengthen collaboration between social movements and researchers on agroecology and food sovereignty in Europe and beyond.

Over the course of the project (2014-16), we worked together to document biodiversity-rich agroecological food systems and identify appropriate forms of economic exchange as well as governance models compatible with agroecology and food sovereignty.  In an effort to produce knowledge collaboratively, partners engaged with social movements, farmers’ groups and academics to debate critical aspects of our food and agriculture system. Building on this knowledge to press for social change, we advocated (for example in the European Parliament) for policies and institutions that enable the scaling-up of agroecology and food sovereignty. In addition, our transmedia communication strategy – using multimedia approaches to publications – enabled us to tailor our research findings and advocacy activities to diverse audiences.

Project highlights and outcomes

Transdisciplinary dialogues on agroecology and food sovereignty

Sow Your Resistance

Our partner, Biodiversité, Échanges et Diffusion d’Expériences (France), in collaboration with the French Peasants’ Seeds Network and the Confédération paysanne, co-hosted an international gathering in 2015 to share views on the connection between peasants’ seeds, food justice and food sovereignty. Click here to read the final declaration produced by civil society organisations and farmers’ groups gathered in Pau, France.

Agroecology and on-farm autonomy

In 2015 the European Coordination Via Campesina (Belgium) convened young farmers and organisations working with farmers across Europe to share experience on ways to create on-farm autonomy based on agroecological practices. Examples showcased included tips on achieving energy autonomy, collaborative processes for building small-scale, low-tech farm machinery, access to land and economic models for financial autonomy. Click here for details.

Reclaiming Research, Reclaiming Knowledge

At the Nyeleni Europe Forum for Food Sovereignty held in Romania in 2016, the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (United Kingdom) facilitated a workshop that explored democratic ways in which civil society and research can produce knowledge collaboratively on agroecology and food sovereignty. Click here for details. This workshop built on insights generated in our DARE project on democratising agricultural research.

Agroecology Learning Exchange

The Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (UK) and the Landworkers’ Alliance (UK) took part in an Agroecology Learning Exchange convened by the Agroecology Fund and the African Alliance for Food Sovereignty held in Uganda in May 2016. Designed as a playful and stimulating participatory process, one of the meeting’s objectives was to share lessons on what we are all doing to promote agroecology in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe. In addition, this Learning Exchange provided a space to identify better ways of amplifying agroecological solutions across the world. Bringing together 90 participants from six continents, the meeting enabled a free exchange through which to explore synergies that can help strengthen agroecology as a science, movement and a practice.

Collaborative research and knowledge building

GRAIN (Spain) published a major report called The Exxons of Agriculture on the subject of trade, seeds and climate policies that affect the capacities of small scale farmers to feed the world. Click here to download the report.

Agronauten (Germany) released a publication on the state of Community Supported Agriculture across Europe, exploring the range of emerging food distribution systems, particularly direct marketing and producer or consumer-led models, from 22 countries. Click here to access the report.

In its research entitled A Matter of Scale, the Landworkers’ Alliance (United Kingdom) shed light on the productivity and multiple benefits of small-scale farms in the United Kingdom. Specifically, the report highlights how a diverse and vibrant sector of small farms is providing employment, attracting new entrants and incubating small-scale, start-up businesses in agroecology. Click here to read the report.

Advocacy for scaling up Agroecology for Food Sovereignty in Europe

The European Coordination Via Campesina (Belgium), in collaboration with the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) from Coventry University, organised a public debate on agroecology in Brussels based on the demands in the declaration of the International Forum for Agroecology (2015). This document represents the views of food producers worldwide who agreed on a common understanding of the principles of agroecology. Held at the European Parliament in Brussels in September 2015, the conference provided an opportunity to call for  public policies needed to scale up agroecology in Europe. Here, we debated on these policies with representatives from civil society, European Union institutions and the scientific community in Europe.  Click here for more details.

Transmedia communication

Together, We Can Cool the Planet!

In preparation to the 2015 edition of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris, GRAIN co-produced and disseminated a poster on the link between the industrial food system and the climate crises, also outlining five ways in which food sovereignty cools the planet and feeds its people. Click here to download poster. Funding from this project also contributed to the creation of a short video and a comic book on the same theme, entitled Together, we can cool the planet!

Agroecology – Voices from Social Movements

As part of a long-term process of engaged action research with social movements and allied researchers on the contested meanings and politics of agroecology, CAWR produced a film highlighting social movement perspectives on agroecology. The film is accompanied by a multimedia publication that further explores these issues. Click here to view the film and related publication (both available in English, French and Spanish).

Praise of millets, cereals of the future

With the intention of releasing a documentary entitled ‘Praise of Millets, Cereals of the Future’, a team from BEDE (France) accompanied by film-maker Idriss Diabaté, travelled to Telangana state, the centre-south part of India, to document radically different approaches for reviving millets, a drought-resistant cereal that has been traditionally grown in West Africa and India. Casting a critical lens, the film intends to reveal that India is the home of the biggest international research program on millets with a global market-oriented approach. Very sophisticated research (biotechnology, genomics) applies to imagine the millets of the future. The hybrid varieties bred through this programme correspond primarily to the interests of intensive industrial agriculture and intended for animal feed or for agro-fuels. However, the film intends to show that the future of millets is not only played out in these research centres. In India, and West Africa,  at fairs and biodiversity festivals and within networks, local communities self-organise and create alliances to revive this nutritious cereal. They are reintroducing millets into their diets, while at the same time increasing biodiversity in the fields and ensuring a good livelihood from their peasant millet varieties. In the context of global warming, in France, some growers and small-scale, artisanal food producers in agroecology are also rediscovering the value of millets, and other cereals like sorghum, as human food.

For more information on the release of this documentary, please click here. If you would like to watch the first part of the documentary entitled  ‘Praise of Millets, the African Heritage‘, which traces the history and revival of millets in West Africa,  see the trailer below and contact BEDE to order a copy of the film.

Agroecology and collective innovation 

Finding from this project enabled FIRAB (Italy) to produce six short videos that respectively address the concepts of collective innovation, agroecology and a presentation of results connected to a participatory project on developing agroecological practices in organic horticulture in the Latium region of Italy. Click here and scroll down to view all six videos (in Italian).


Funders: Agroecology Fund (USA) and A Team Foundation (UK)

Partners: AGRONAUTEN (Germany), Biodiversité, Échanges et Diffusion d’Expériences (France),  European Coordination Via Campesina (Belgium),  Fondazione Italiana per la Ricerca in Agricoltura Biologica e Biodinamica  (Italy), GRAIN (Spain), Landworkers’ Alliance (UK)

CAWR Project team: Professor Michel Pimbert, Dr. Colin Anderson, Csilla Kiss