Connecting the Agroecology Movement of Africa with the EU
At the annual high-level EU Agricultural Outlook Conference in Brussels in December 2019 for the first time a slot was dedicated to agroecology. The Kenyan speaker David Amudavi from the Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) Initiative for Africa represented a civil society consortium and a working mechanism to foster agroecological practices and research, outreach, and movement building including curriculum teaching practices to a predominantly EU audience.
Africa Europe connections
The Conference allowed for an ACT EU internal side event with Commission officials on the future task force on sustainable agriculture under the forthcoming African European (agricultural) partnership. The internal meeting brought together ACT EU Food Security Working Group members, the Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) Initiative for Africa and the director of IFOAM EU. The event supported connections of the agroecological and organic movement in Africa and Europe.
The status as speaker in the Conference also facilitates and helps to qualify the EOA Initiative for Africa for a possible seat in the Task Force, a suggestion jointly supported by in the internal meeting.
New civil society movement
The contribution of civil society organizations started with ICCO agency staff bringing partners such as the Ugandan Moses Egayu from COU-Teddo to the CFS event in Rome in October 2019, and engaging in proactive networking; while unfortunately, it was not feasible to organize any official side event for their partners to speak in public.
ACT EU staff learned about the National Council of Churches in Uganda involvement and support to the 1st National Agroecology Actor’s Symposium (NAAS) in Uganda and promoted a NAAS speaker at the EU Agricultural Outlook Conference.
The Commission picks the EOA representative from the list which is associated with and supports the NAAS. This way, a new composition of civil society group is introduced, consisting of ACT EU agency, partner PELUM, Civic Engagement Alliance partner COU-Teddo (in working relations with NCC in Uganda) and the EOA-I, and the EU organic movement that can work hand in hand to lift up civil society initiative mechanism and work to advance agroecological food systems and climate resilient approaches.
Women back on the agenda
An important milestone of the EU28 in 2019 was endorsing the new work stream of FAO on agroecology by inviting a high-level panel of experts to report on agroecology and other innovations. This report proposes the human ‘agency’ of people and farmers as a new pillar of work which is a significant milestone for ACT Alliance EU and our members by putting empowerment and dignity of women farmers and rural communities back on the agenda.
Discussing agroecological approaches
The ACT Alliance EU working group was an active participant at the October 2019 FAO Committee on Food Security where the international Civil Society Mechanism met. Together with CONCORD members, we used working structures to set up focused NGO groups. ACT Alliance EU, together with a focused group of development NGOs, met on a regular basis with DG DEVCO to discuss agroecological approaches in the European African partnership on agriculture. The strong support for this approach in the Civil Society Mechanism at UN FAO level is boosting and reinforcing this EU advocacy, opening up new pathways for support and engagement.
ACT EU has proposed a workshop on “Organics and Agroecology: Boundaries and Synergies between Sustainable Systems and Approaches” at the Organic World Congress 2020 which was accepted; though now postponed to 2021 because of the corona pandemic. The workshop aims at convening an open debate on the contribution of organic and agroecology to the SDGs. The idea is to elaborate on the potentials by agroecology for new types of alliances and inclusion of value chain aspects and inclusive markets in developing countries.