D6.1 – Draft framework for a European network of agroecological LLs and RIs
2022, AE4EU partners embarked on a journey to create a European network in which many outside networks were invited to participate in co-creating a common purpose and goal to help accelerate agroecological transformations in agriculture and the wider food systems. The journey began by first clarifying the purpose and scope of the network in order for it to be something that should originate from, and cater to, the needs of agroecological grassroots and farmer (representative) groups, and networks where the energy and motivation for leading agroecological transformation is strongest although their potential is not always harnessed as innovations and networks are fragmented. In becoming more connected to other major processes related to agroecological transitions in Europe (such as the current EU agroecology partnership development processes), their contribution and capacity to accelerate agroecological transformations in Europe will be strengthened.
To this end, a process of developing a European agroecology network of networks (NofN) was started (see Deliverable 5.3). AE4EU partners first sketched some outlines of a framework to guide this development and then approached agroecological grassroots/farmer (representative) groups and networks at both the European level and country level to ask for feedback and invite them to join the journey of co-creating the network of networks. Since spring 2022, around 30 representative groups and networks have indicated their interest in actively participating in the co-creation process or at least stay connected to its further development. The initial outlines of the framework as developed by AE4EU partners have gone through a first round of interactive fine-tuning with participants. Key points of departure for the network were:
- Support the collaboration and coordination of efforts aimed at transitioning to agroecology, allowing a space where everyone can communicate to avoid duplication of efforts and create synergies;
- Connect the ideas, needs, interests, etc. of farmer groups and grassroots movements, and co-create the NofN with them (that is where we think AE4EU can in particular be complementary/contributing);
- Seek to be complementary to existing projects and networks and connect to what is going on in e.g. the EU agroecology partnership process and the sister project ALL-Ready;
- Support agroecological transformations of European agriculture as well as of wider food systems by expanding agroecology as a practice, as well as by influencing, inspiring, informing mainstream agriculture and food systems.
The first ideas on the potential added value/role of the NofN, considering that it should add value to the capacity that is already there, were: 1) Coordination: connecting networks and tuning of activities; 2) Knowledge exchange – inspiration; 3) Connecting farmers, research, NGO’s, youth and citizens, education and training; 4) Enhance visibility of agroecology practices through e.g., lobbying, research based on farmers’ needs; 5) Benefit from increased interest in and funding for agroecology such as in relation to the EU agroecology partnership, and 6) Connecting agroecology to food systems perspectives and programmes.
The framework will further evolve as an outcome of the continued interactive development with participants in the process. More participants may join and aid in its further development.