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The importance of Food Sovereignty for the Farm to Fork strategy and the New Green Deal. Insights and limits of the SAM and SAPEA reports 1

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Rationale: This brief reflects on the key scientific contributions of the recent publication of the report 'Towards a Sustainable Food System' by the Chief Scientific Advisors (Scientific Advice Mechanism-SAM) 1 and the SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) Evidence Review Report on 'Sustainable Food Systems for the EU' 2 that informed it. This is done with a view towards advancing food sovereignty and agroecology in the Farm to Fork Strategy. Context: Vulnerable food systems Covid-19 has exposed even more limits and dysfunctions in our globalized food systems: from our reliance on underpaid farm and food sector workers operating in poor working conditions (most often women and migrants), the risks associated with intensive animal farming, including zoonoses, to barriers facing small-scale producers when trying to access local markets, to gender inequalities and the additional risks faced by people with pre-existing diet-related health conditions. Covid-19 is also set to aggravate other shocks (e.g. crop failures or abrupt changes in food prices due to climate change and other extreme events), and threats (e.g. biocultural erosion, degrading soil fertility, ageing farm population, land concentration, lack of farm renewal). These shocks and threats reveal the fragility of the European food systems, which the SAPEA report makes clear is even more vulnerable due to its interdependent nature and the fact that 1
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... L'obiettivo di questa strategia è infatti quello di costruire un sistema alimentare equo, sano e rispettoso dell'ambiente, garantendo una produzione alimentare sostenibile, assicurando la sicurezza alimentare, promuovendo un consumo alimentare sostenibile, riducendo la perdita di cibo e combattendo le frodi alimentari (EC., 2020). Secondo Duncan et al. (2020) l'agroecologia dovrebbe essere centrale nella nuova strategia Farm to Fork. L'agroecologia è definita come "l'applicazione delle scienze ecologiche allo studio, alla progettazione e alla gestione di agroecosistemi sostenibili" (Altieri, 1995). ...
... L'agroecologia è definita come "l'applicazione delle scienze ecologiche allo studio, alla progettazione e alla gestione di agroecosistemi sostenibili" (Altieri, 1995). Un vantaggio dell'agroecologia è che può essere facilmente adattata alle condizioni locali (Duncan et al., 2020). Inoltre l'agroecologia riduce la dipendenza dagli input esterni e può tradursi in prezzi equi per i produttori e cibo sano per i consumatori (Duncan et al., 2020). ...
... Un vantaggio dell'agroecologia è che può essere facilmente adattata alle condizioni locali (Duncan et al., 2020). Inoltre l'agroecologia riduce la dipendenza dagli input esterni e può tradursi in prezzi equi per i produttori e cibo sano per i consumatori (Duncan et al., 2020). Ma forse l'elemento più importante, guardando alle sfide attuali che dobbiamo affrontare, è l'impatto che l'agroecologia ha sui cambiamenti climatici, stimolando una forma più sostenibile e più resiliente di agricoltura (Altieri et al., 2015 2019), grazie al miglioramento della qualità del suolo. ...
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Capitoli del dr. Domenico Prisa del Libro "Per fare un Orto" * Possibile Utilizzo di Biostimolnati a base di humus di lombrico liquido per il miglioramento della qualità e della protezione di piante di basilico * Uso di Effective Microorganisms EM per migliorare la qualita e la fioritura di bulbose ornamentali
... Together with the Biodiversity Strategy it has also been listed among "some of the world's most ambitious efforts to catalyse a food system transition" (Candel, 2022, p.296), with ambitious targets (Mowlds, 2020, p. 20). However, it was also criticised for claiming to intervene in the transition to sustainable food systems without providing a clear definition of how sustainability in food systems is envisioned (Schebesta and Candel, 2020, p. 586;Duncan et al, 2020, p. 3). Definitions, principles and requirements about the sustainability framework, in fact, will not be published until the end of 2023 (F2F, p. 8) and even the European Parliament in their Initiative Report in response to the Farm to Fork Strategy calls on the Commission to promote a societal dialogue on a common understanding of sustainability and its various components, on the path towards its proposal for a legislative framework for a sustainable food system (2021, p. 13). ...
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This research adopts the principles of sustainability transition management to analyse the EU Farm to Fork Strategy (together with the complementary Biodiversity Strategy) on four levels: the definition of sustainability it wants to achieve, what form of governance is proposed for the transition, whether a shift in relationships of power is envisaged and what practices are implied to constitute sustainable farming. I compare and contrast the content of the Strategies with sustainability from the perspective of cultivated diversity: 1. seeds: form part of wider socio-economic and cultural-ecological interactions between farmers and their communities, and their diversity is the outcome of interactions that value it; 2. farmers: with their proactive management have historically maintained genetic diversity in seed and fields as custodians of the landscape; 3. practices: diversity in seed and landscape is determined by breeding and growing practices; when localised, distributed, knowledge intensive, in synergy with the rest of the ecosystem, these are often termed agroecological. My question then is whether the strategy is actually leading a transformational process of change as it claims it does, and whether, independent of its claims, the Strategy might offer a window of opportunity for change, in the wider historical transition that - in its attempt to address the shortcomings of the Green Revolution and industrialisation of farming - has led us to the contemporary focus on ‘sustainable agriculture’. As a policy artefact of the regime, in fact, the Strategy reacts to and takes a stand on a process of ongoing change, under pressure at the landscape level by climate change and biodiversity loss, and in the face of increased visibility of and popular support for alternative ways of farming. I investigate how the regime has responded to being challenged. My observations lead me to conclude that, while the Strategy only aims at a trajectory adjustment to the current paradigm of industrialised, productivist agriculture (rooted in economic growth, the dominance of the market and fuelled by technological innovation), it does open a window of opportunity for genuine change, in so far as it provides further anchoring of the cultivated diversity niche to the regime and a better-grounded negotiating space for cultivated diversity to take advocacy forward.
... Although not invariably the case, nor has the same path been followed everywhere, the biophysical study of agroecosystems from a historical perspective can be used to analyse their evolution in different socioeconomic contexts. These analyses will help inform the adoption of public policies that farmers' organizations claim will promote more sustainable farming practices (IAASTD, 2009;FAO, 2018;IPES-Food, 2019;European Commission, 2020;Duncan et al., 2020). ...
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Using several energy returns on investment indicators (multi-EROI), this article analyses the socioecological transition of an agroecosystem in the western Mediterranean on the island of Mallorca (Spain) over a period of 150 years which saw a change from traditional organic farming to a fossil fuel-based system of agriculture. This circular bioeconomic analysis evaluates the agroecosystem's capacity to produce goods by reproducing itself in 1860, 1956 and 2012. In 1860 land and livestock were mostly in the hands of a few landowners, who kept agroecosystems away from the full productive capacity of traditional organic farming so as to increase land rents by lowering wages. The bankruptcy of these large estates increased peasant access to land at the end of the nineteenth and the first third of the twentieth centuries. Peasant farms were mainly solar-based and combined polyculture with a large number of small flocks, thus creating complex and attractive Mediterranean biocultural landscapes with higher EROIs. By 1956, these had practically reached the limits of traditional organic farming and early became a residual activity within the tourism specialization of the economy. As everywhere, conventional farming reduced agrarian eco-efficiency through production increases achieved at the cost of greater dependence on external fossil fuel-based inputs, a loss of biophysical circularity and lower EROIs. In Mallorca, however, this took place at the same time as agriculture was subsumed by the tourist economy, leading to a more partial and less widespread adoption of Green Revolution techniques than in other parts of Spain. Although agroecosystem live funds were undermined and the reproduction of Mallorcan biocultural landscapes was placed at risk, an important heritage of biocultural peasant agriculture still survives as a resource for the future.
... The new Farm to Fork Strategy (e.g. Duncan et al. 2020) of the European Union responds to an urgent need to reduce environmental footprint but maintaining food production in European agriculture. Incentives, infrastructure and legal framework can expand access to precision farming (e.g. ...
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Numerous sources provide evidence of trends and patterns in average farm size and farmland distribution worldwide, but they often lack documentation, are in some cases out of date, and do not provide comprehensive global and comparative regional estimates. This article uses agricultural census data (provided at the country level in Web Appendix) to show that there are more than 570 million farms worldwide, most of which are small and family-operated. It shows that small farms (less than 2 ha) operate about 12% and family farms about 75% of the world’s agricultural land. It shows that average farm size decreased in most low- and lower-middle-income countries for which data are available from 1960 to 2000, whereas average farm sizes increased from 1960 to 2000 in some upper-middle-income countries and in nearly all high-income countries for which we have information.
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It has been argued that there are two broad criteria to judge humanity’s success in feeding itself: “(i) the proportion of people whose access to basic nutritional requirements is secure; and (ii) the extent to which global food production is sustainable” (Daily et al., 1998, p. 1291). According to these criteria, we have failed. First, 870 million people worldwide were estimated to be chronically undernourished in the period from 2010 to 2012 (FAO, 2012a). Second, the industrial model of global food production and distribution is not environmentally sustainable. Approximately 19 to 29 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are directly attributed to agriculture. Agriculture is also the leading driver of deforestation and forest degradation globally, a process that accounts for an additional 17 percent of global carbon emissions (Vermeulen, Campbell, & Ingram, 2012).
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New concepts of governance take account of ambivalence, uncertainty, and distributed power in societal change. They aim for reflexivity regarding the limits of prognostic knowledge and actual control of complex processes of change. Adaptive management and transition management are two examples that evolved from the analysis of social-ecological and sociotechnical systems, respectively. Both feature strategies of collective experimentation and learning. In this paper, we ask how these two designs of reflexive governance consider politics. Based on a framework of different dimensions and levels of politics, we show that they are mainly concerned with problem solving by a focal process, but conflict and asymmetric power relations, as well as the embedding of processes within broader political contexts, are neglected. We suggest two routes for integrating politics into the design of reflexive governance: (1) recognize the politics of learning for sustainable development and develop safeguards against domination and capture by powerful actors, and (2) systematically consider the embedding of governance designs in political contexts and their ongoing dynamics for political fit.
Worldwide, 2.5 billion people today depend on lands managed through customary, community-based tenure systems. Although land and natural resources are recognised as essential elements for the realisation of many human rights, international human rights law does not recognise a human right to land, except for indigenous peoples. With the recent adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other people working in rural areas ( undrop ), the right to land is now recognised for new categories of rural workers. This article explores the governance of land and natural resources beyond the case of indigenous peoples’ rights. It argues that undrop contains key and mutually reinforcing elements of the human rights and collective action approaches to the governance of land and natural resources, and therefore has the potential to ensure the social and environmental ‘viability’ of the commons.
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How does steering for sustainability work within the world of contemporary politics, where roles are increasingly ambiguous and power dispersed? This paper explores this question empirically by studying the practice of reflexive governance—a mode of steering that encourages actors to scrutinize and reconsider their underlying assumptions, institutional arrangements and practices. The practice of reflexive governance has been conceptualized in various ways: as a strategic process of opening up and closing down, as a state-led activity of facilitating socio-technological transitions, and as a mode of network co-ordination to promote system innovation. What all these accounts underplay is the political context of reflexive processes, and the politics that they generate. This paper offers an alternative conceptualization of reflexive governance that situates sites of reflexivity within a broader discursive system composed of multiple arenas, actors and forms of political communication. Applying this framework to a Dutch case study reveals a host of struggles involved in enacting reflexive governance, particularly as actors try to reconcile the demands of reflexivity (being open, self-critical and creative) with the demands of their existing political world (closed preferences, agenda driven, control). The analysis sheds light on the work—and indeed politics—involved in legitimizing more reflexive modes of governing for sustainability.
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