Transitions to Agroecological Food Systems

This project will examine potential pathways for transitioning to more sustainable food systems in order to contribute to improved ecological, economic, social and nutritional outcomes.

The project draws on the principles and practices of agroecology. Agroecological food production has been shown to conserve biodiversity, increase food production and improve nutrition, while generating rural livelihoods. However, this approach has remained limited in its scope, in part due to neglect of the complex and dynamic nature of food systems, and the political economy of the policy and market conditions that favour industrial-style food production.

Drawing on the ‘Pathways to Sustainability’ approach to analysing complex, dynamic systems, this project is using a participatory systems based research process to map and analyse constraints to agroecological food systems in Nicaragua, Senegal and the UK. Research in each country is co-led by farmers and food growers through partnerships with farmer-led organisations in each country. Using a multidisciplinary approach and combining participatory, qualitative and quantitative methodologies, the research will engage actors at various levels of the food systems and involve them in analysing evidence, identifying constraints and developing viable strategies for scaling up agroecological food systems.


Recent work


Brexit, food and trade: what is in the public interest?

IDS very recently took the opportunity to submit evidence from the project ‘Transitions to Agroecological Food Systems’ to a parliamentary inquiry about post-Brexit food and trade policy. Elise Wach shares her reivew of the submissions more broadly.

18 December 2017


Valuing Agroecological Farmers: What Can We Learn From Alternative Economic Approaches to Ensure the Contribution of Agroecological Farmers is Valued Appropriately? Findings From Participatory Research

This paper looks at the potential usefulness of triple bottom line accounting, and also explores other approaches, in financial accounting, for ecological and social outcomes and the effects of different farming methods. It then provides details of the presentations given by three witnesses and...

1 October 2017