Opening remarks by Pedro Walpole SJ, Ecojesuit Global Coordinator
Welcome again to this dialogue where we seek to shed further light on how agroecology can help bring about social change. That is a global need, clearly. It’s highlighted in the UN report where over two billion people do not have regular access to state food, nutritious and sufficient food.
One of the changes from the MDGs to the SDGs is that it includes North America and Europe, because there, 8% of the population or so goes poorly fed. It’s much greater in poorer countries. Over 70% of the population are dependent directly or indirectly on agriculture. We are all dependent on agriculture for food. There is no option but to revive local to global focus on sustainable agriculture, and it is a direct relationship to the broader ecological cycles that we have to keep in balance.
Each of us here today comes with specific experiences and local context. We are hopeful that this exchange translates to greater actions on the ground, and contributes to the development of communities of practice that encourage youth leadership, entrepreneurship, community-based research, and deeper understanding of our relationship with the wider ecosystem.
“In order to continue providing employment, it is imperative to promote an economy which favours productive diversity and business creativity. For example, there is a great variety of small-scale food production systems which feed the greater part of the world’s peoples, using a modest amount of land and producing less waste, be it in small agricultural parcels, in orchards and gardens, hunting and wild harvesting or local fishing. Economies of scale, especially in the agricultural sector, end up forcing smallholders to sell their land or to abandon their traditional crops. Their attempts to move to other, more diversified, means of production prove fruitless because of the difficulty of linkage with regional and global markets, or because the infrastructure for sales and transport is geared to larger businesses. Civil authorities have the right and duty to adopt clear and firm measures in support of small producers and differentiated production. To ensure economic freedom from which all can effectively benefit, restraints occasionally have to be imposed on those possessing greater resources and financial power. To claim economic freedom while real conditions bar many people from actual access to it, and while possibilities for employment continue to shrink, is to practise a doublespeak which brings politics into disrepute. Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the areas in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good.” (Laudato Si’ 129)
This agroecology dialogue intends to:
- Share and to learn about each other’s work in agroecology and community-based participatory research
- Develop a shared understanding of needs and opportunities for food systems change in the context of interconnected socio-economic and ecological crises
- Help guide emerging food system changes, and inspire action for food sovereignty and entrepreneurship
- Promote ecological conversion and collaboration that is called for in Laudato Si’ and Universal Apostolic Preferences
Today’s opportunities and challenges invite us to reflect on where our food comes from, on how it gets to our plate, and the people and resources behind it. We need to go deeper because injustices and vulnerabilities of business as usual are being brought to light.
Farm for Care shares Dr Pedro Walpole’s talk during the first session of the online webinar Agroecology for Food System Change: A dialogue series on land, life, and livelihood.