Finance for agroecology

The lion's share of public budgets for climate, agriculture and development still goes to conventional agroindustrial projects that contribute to the current climate, food and biodiversity crises. Both ENDS and our partners are calling for a transition to agroecological practices that are people- and environment-friendly.

The climate and food crises reinforce each other: the consequences of climate change make the production of food more difficult, while the large-scale, intensive and industrial way in which food is produced in many parts of the world is one of the main causes of climate change. One way to help overcome both crises is to radically change how food is produced. Both ENDS and our partners therefore support farmers who grow crops in an agroecological way.

Agroecology is a method of producing food based on nature and centred on the farmer. It is small-scale, circular, local, inclusive and fair. It is better able to withstand the impacts of climate change, such as drought, and other external threats, as well as helping to reduce climate change by, for example, not being dependent on energy-intensive fertilisers and producing more often for local and regional markets. Agroecology increases gender equality because women play an important role in agroecological practices, and by making that role more visible. All this, together with the shorter chains between producer and consumer, make agroecology an effective means of promoting food security and food sovereignty for all. The importance of local agroecological food production became particularly clear during the global Covid pandemic, when international food chains were severely disrupted.

Inadequate support for agroecology

Despite the many advantages of agroecology compared to large-scale, industrial agriculture, only a fraction of global agriculture budgets goes to agroecological initiatives. The lion's share of the agricultural budgets of the EU, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and in Dutch development assistance, for example, still goes to conventional agriculture.

To allocate their budgets for agriculture and food production in a climate-, environment- and people-friendly way, funds, donors and public banks must change course and no longer use them to support large-scale food systems that cause soil degradation, deforestation, polluted water sources, human rights violations and disruption of local markets. Agroecology, by contrast, has a demonstrable positive effect on the climate, the environment and the livelihoods of farmers and family businesses, local food security and gender equality.

Use financing to promote inclusive, sustainable food production

Both ENDS is therefore urging financiers like the Green Climate Fund, the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), the Dutch development bank FMO and the Dutch government to allocate their budgets for food production to agroecological initiatives. With financial support, these initiatives can be improved and expanded and anchored in local, national and international policy, so that agroecology and nature-inclusive agriculture become the norm.

It is also important to ensure that this financial support reaches those who need it: small-scale farmers who put agroecology into practice, and local organisations which support them. These actors can better be reached through small grants funds and/or local and national CSOs. Many funds, donors and public banks are as yet not set up to provide such support and will have to adapt their financing mechanisms and processes to do so.

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