Scaling Out Agroecology to Nourish and Cool the Planet

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Hunger and climate change are two of the most pressing issues of our time, and they are deeply connected. Industrial agriculture is polluting our water and soil, pumping out commodity crops people cannot eat, and emitting 30% of all greenhouse gases while leaving 2 billion people hungry and malnourished.The solution to these crises is agroecology; a set of sustainable, chemical-free agricultural practices that produces abundant food, increases ecological resilience, conserves natural resources and pulls carbon out of the atmosphere. Agroecology, already practiced worldwide, is proven to reduce hunger, create economic stability, cool the planet, and strengthen democratic engagement. WhyHunger will scale agroecology by partnering with established social movements representing millions of food producers, women, youth and indigenous peoples. Over the next five years, we will build agroecology schools, organize farmer-to-farmer trainings, develop educational tools and shift policies to equip and support 500,000 farmers to grow food sustainably.

Problem Statement

Hunger and climate change are among the world’s most pressing problems. Over two billion people experience hunger each year, many of them small-scale farmers and most of them women, youth, people of color and Indigenous people. At the same time, scientists warn that we have twelve years to curb greenhouse emissions before there are devastating impacts on human life.Our climate and food crises are deeply linked. The rise of industrial agriculture has led to the overproduction of commodity crops for animal feed, biofuels and trade, while exacerbating hunger, soil damage and water pollution. The food that is produced is lower in nutritional value, carries dangerous levels of chemical pesticides, and isn’t accessible or affordable for most of the world’s hungry people. Factory farming is also among the largest contributors to climate change, pumping out over 30% of all greenhouse gases annually. Meanwhile, increased drought, flooding and natural disasters caused by a changing climate are wiping out industrial monoculture crops ill-equipped to withstand stress. This crop loss not only threatens global food security, it traps farmers in cycles of poverty, hunger and debt.Small-scale farmers have developed agroecology as a viable alternative to the industrial food system. The key leverage point is to invest deeply in select geographies to test agroecological practices, hone effective teaching methods, document successes and pilot strategies to implement supportive policies.Now is the time to make a big investment in scaling agroecology, so we can nourish the planet and our population before it’s too late.

Solution Overview

Agroecology produces abundant food by embracing diverse and indigenous crops that create resilient ecosystems. Through demonstrated success on small-scale farms and in scientific studies, agroecology has proven to produce more food than industrial methods, while enriching diets, conserving biodiversity, pulling carbon out of the atmosphere, increasing farmer income up to 30% and boosting economic activity in local food economies.Building an alternative food system requires social power and political will. Agroecology is spread farmer-to-farmer, fostering relationships and popular education designed to engage farmers in holding their governments accountable to supporting sustainable production and ensuring the human right to food.In WhyHunger’s experience, the most effective way to scale both the scientific and social aspects of agroecology is to partner with well-established global movements that have strong infrastructure and millions of members. Over the next five years, WhyHunger and our movement partners will equip 500,000 farmers to nourish their families and communities sustainably and to create the social conditions for agroecology to thrive. Working in 10 locations, we’ll establish baseline data about farmers, food access, land use, soil health, carbon sequestration, crop diversity and yields; and measure success by tracking progress on these key markers. We’ll also document successful policy change strategies, allocations of institutional resources supporting agroecology, and more.Our project will have deep impact in 10 specified locations—increasing food access, invigorating local markets, and restoring natural resources. Our goal for broader impact is to leverage this success to build a strong global case for transforming our food system.

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Project Funders

  • Hard Rock International 2008 - 2016
  • ThoughtWorks

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