Funding agroecology: huge potential remains untapped

The need for radical transformation of food and agriculture systems has been thoroughly documented, widely accepted and embraced rhetorically by organisations at all scales, but its potential remains untapped: the political will to actually funding agroecology is missing. In March 2018, together with Michel Pimbert, I wrote:

“…Our recently published research shows that very little overseas aid is directed at agroecological research and development. Since January 1 2010, no funds at all have been directed at or been committed to projects with the main focus on development or promotion of agroecological practices.

It is true that minor funds have been directed at projects which promote resource efficiency in farming. But this is a very basic agroecological principle. Based on the most generous interpretation of available figures, our study shows for the first time that aid for agroecological projects is less than 5% of aid given for agricultural purposes and less than 0.5% of the total UK aid budget. By largely supporting industrial agriculture, UK aid priorities contribute very little to the transition towards global socio-ecological sustainability…”.

Funding agroecology is necessary and as a movement we will keep holding organisations accountable and push them to put their money where their mouth is. This is my latest contribution, a report commissioned by CIDSE, which is a study that “focuses on EU Official Development Assistance (ODA) funds channelled from 2016 to 2018 through the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP). At the same time the study also focusses on the Green Climate Fund (GCF) portfolio, from its creation until December 2019”.

The data collected reveals that:  

Regarding agricultural projects funded by the EU through FAO, IFAD and WFP  

  • None of them are supporting transformative agroecology, in other words, looking at a transformation of both agroecosystems and food systems; 
  • Almost 80 % promote business as usual approaches and efficiency-oriented approaches (such as sustainable intensification); 
  • 2.7% of the funds refer to projects that represent a first steps towards agroecology.  

Regarding agricultural projects funded by the Green Climate Fund 

  • Almost 80% of the funds are channelled towards programmes and projects promoting business as usual approaches and efficiency-oriented approaches (such as sustainable intensification); 
  • 10.6% of the money invested in agricultural projects by the GCF supports transformative agroecology;   
  • 10.1% of the funds flow towards projects that represent a first step towards agroecology.  

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