Challenges and action points to amplify agroecology in Europe

Alexander Wezel, Margriet Goris, Janneke Bruil, Georges F. Félix, Alain Peeters, Paolo Bàrberi, Stéphane Bellon, Paola Migliorini

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Agriculture in Europe results in the production of food for both the European population and for the export sector. Significant environmental and social problems have emerged with the intensification of European agriculture. These include the loss of biodiversity, the contamination of soils, water, and food with pesticides, and the eutrophication of water bodies. Industrialized agricultural and food systems are also a major contributing factor in the decline of farm numbers, and the high use of antibiotics has led to serious human health problems. In this respect, agroecology can provide insights into important pathways and guide the design, development, and promotion of the transition towards sustainable farming and food systems. An analysis of the major challenges for the amplification of agroecology in Europe was carried out by 310 stakeholders in a World Café exercise and 23 sessions and workshops during the Agroecology Europe Forum 2017. The different challenges that were identified can be grouped into seven categories: (1) definition and concepts; (2) education, training, and knowledge sharing; (3) research approach and funding; (4) policies; (5) productivity and practices; (5) food systems and consumer awareness; and (6) co-optation. To address these challenges, the following key actions are recommended: (1) to develop a common understanding of agroecology; (2) to enhance education in agroecology and knowledge exchange; (3) to invest in agroecological research; (4) to develop policies enhancing agroecology; (5) to support new and existing agroecological practices; (6) to transform food systems; and (7) to strengthen communication and alliances. In this paper we present and discuss these recommendations for pathways and actions to develop sustainable agro-food systems in Europe through agroecology.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1598
Number of pages12
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (


  • Actor networks
  • Biodiversity-based farming
  • EU agricultural policy
  • Food systems
  • Participatory research
  • Social movements
  • Sustainable agriculture


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