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Agroecology must be at the heart of the global strategy for the protection and maintenance of biodiversity


27 Oct 2021


Agriculture & Food

In light of the ongoing negotiations on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which offer a global framework for action to reverse the worrying trend in the evolution of biodiversity at the global level, we, civil society organizations, scientists and citizens, invite governments to implement coherent and ambitious policies in fostering the agroecological transition.

The industrialization of food systems - through the logic of simplification and standardization of agricultural production practices - has led to massive biodiversity loss. In thirty years, the population of flying insects has decreased by about 80% in Europe (Hallman, 2017), along with the decline of 40% of European bird species (EEA, 2021).

Agriculture is one of the main factors responsible for this decline, although we paradoxically depend on biodiversity to feed ourselves. Soil regeneration, the regulation of local hydrological processes, the recycling of nutrients, pollination and pest control (Altieri 1996) are essential ecosystem services for global food production that depend on rich and abundant biodiversity.

It is urgent to reverse this trend of industrialisation and ensure healthy, diversified, sufficient and quality food production for the world's population while maintaining and restoring biodiversity in our fields, our territories and our plates. This double challenge can be accomplished by putting agroecology back at the heart of food production.

Agroecological practices make it possible to regenerate soil life, increase its fertility, and considerably reduce the use of synthetic inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides, whose effects on biodiversity have been devastating (Geiger et al. 2010, Woodcock et al. 2017, Beketov et al. 2013, Pelosi et al. 2013). By diversifying habitats, cultivated species, farming and food systems; and by restoring regional agroecological networks, agroecology gives a large number of species the opportunity to re-flourish and develop.

In the face of the global challenge to respond adequately to growing food demand, let's not give in to the sirens of productivism and the solutions of the past century that have led us to a dead end. Oversimplifying agro-ecosystems, uniformization and standardization of food production methods have undoubtedly led to strong ecosystem degradation and the loss of natural and cultivated diversity - the common heritage of humanity. Strong arguments to combate agricultural simplification are provided by an increasing body of scientific literature demonstrating that cropping and farming system diversification – the cornerstone of agroecology – can simultaneously maintain or increase yields while providing a plethora of ecosystem services.

Agri-food systems need to be redesigned and agroecology must be at the heart of  this new development logic. Expectations for policy action are high. A growing number of voices are already calling for a bold paradigm shift to redesign agri-food systems, as recently demonstrated in the call for "A unifying framework for food systems transformation" endorsed by more than 800 international organisations, NGOs, farming groups and experts from six continents.

In order for global efforts to lead to real protection, management and restoration of biodiversity, we, civil society organizations, scientists and citizens, call on decision-makers to set ambitious and legally binding targets and to jointly address climate change and biodiversity challenges.


Altieri, M. (1999) The ecological role of biodiversity in agroecosystems, in Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 74, 19–31

Beketov, M.A., Kefford B.J., Schäfer R.B., Liess M. (2013) Pes regional biodiversity of stream invertebrates, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Jul 2013, 110 (27) 11039-11043; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1305618110

European Environmental Agency (2021) Abundance and distribution of selected species in Europe

Geiger F, Bengtsson J, Berendse F, Weisser W, Emmerson M. (2010) Persistent negative effects of pesticides on biodiversity and biological control potential on European farmland. Basic and Applied Ecology 11 (2010) 2. 11. 10.1016/j.baae.2009.11.002.

Hallmann CA, Sorg M, Jongejans E, Siepel H, Hofland N, Schwan H, et al. (2017) More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas. PLoS ONE 12(10): e0185809.

IPES-Food, Agroecology Europe, FiBL Europe, IFOAM Organics International, Regeneration International (2021) A unifying framework for food systems transformation, A call for governments, private companies & civil society to adopt 13 key principles
See here the list of signatories

Pelosi C, Barot S, Capowiez Y & Hedde M & Vandenbulcke F (2013). Pesticides and earthworms. A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development. 34. 10.1007/s13593-013-0151-z

Wanger, T.C., DeClerck, F., Garibaldi, L.A. et al. (2020) Integrating agroecological production in a robust post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Nat Ecol Evol 4, 1150–1152 .

Woodcock BA, Bullock JM, Shore RF, Heard MS, Pereira MG, Redhead J, Ridding L, Dean H, Sleep D, Henrys P, Peyton J, Hulmes S, Hulmes L, Sárospataki M, Saure C, Edwards M, Genersch E, Knäbe S, Pywell RF (2017) Country-specific effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on honey bees and wild bees. In Science. Jun 30;356(6345):1393-1395. doi: 10.1126/science.aaa1190. PMID: 28663502


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