Olivier De Schutter is Member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and was the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food from 2008 to 2014.
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Governments and international organisations have mainly taken an interest in agroecology over the last few years because of the system’s environmental benefits. However, our author believes that there are other important reasons to support an agroecological revolution. It once again puts farmers in the driver’s seat, opts for local solutions und is a key factor in achieving food democracy.

As a contribution to the science of agronomics, agroecology aims to reduce the use of external fossil-based inputs, to recycle waste, and to combine different elements of nature in the process of production in order to maximise synergies between them. But agroecology is more than a range of agronomic techniques that present some of these characteristics. It is both a certain way of thinking of our relationship to Nature and a social movement that is growing.

A renewed understanding of nature

Agroecology invites us to embrace the complexity of Nature: it sees such complexity not as a liability, but as an asset. The farmer, in this view, is a discoverer: he or she proceeds experimentally, by trial and error, observing what consequences follow from which combinations, and learning from what works best – even though the ultimate “scientific” explanation may remain elusive. This is empowering: the farmer is put in the driver’s seat, she constructs the knowledge that works best in the local context in which she operates.

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