SOCLA’s V Latin American Congress of Agroecology was attended by more than 1700 farmers, students, researchers, professors from all over Latin America. What follows is a brief summary of the extended reflections from President, Dr. Clara Nicholls:
- The SOCLA congress held every two years (next one in Brazil in 2017, and then again in 2018 (location to be determined) so that after that SOCLA’s meetings will be held in paired years) has become a truly Latin American meeting where all groups (La Via Campesina, MAELA, RAPAL, IFOAM, etc.) working towards a more just, resilient and sovereign agriculture meet to exchange ideas, and try to find ways to advance together recognizing differences and building on our diversity.
- The presence of campesinos, women and especially youth was notorious and energizing. The meeting was attended by people from Europe who are also promoting the idea of creating a European Society or Network of Agroecology, and also from the US universities (i.e. Susanna Hecht from UCLA) and Food First, therefore reaching truly international dimensions
- Representatives from LVC and MST informed about their struggles against the agribusiness (industrial -corporate agriculture) and experiences on agroecology, and reminded participants of the political dimensions of agroecology that cannot be ignored if the hegemonic food system is to be transformed.
- Hundreds of papers, posters, seminars and keynote speeches explored new dimensions for research, education and scaling up of agroecology…some thematic axes included:
- Agroecology and social movements: alliances to scale up agroecology
- Agroecology and public policies
- The territorial dimensions of agroecology
- The relationship between restoration ecology and agroecology
- Agroecology and restoration ecology
- Agroecology and resiliency to climate change: from adaptation to transformation
- The role of gender in agroecology, etc.
- Much discussion was devoted to establish the differences of agroecology and sustainable intensification, aware of the many new currents that are trying to co-opt agroecology stripping it of its socio-political dimensions. SOCLA once again affirms that agroecology is not one more tool within the toolbox proposed by conventional institutions (intensification, climate smart agriculture, etc.) but rather the only truly viable alternative to transform our food systems in line with the challenges imposed by globalization, climate change, the energy and food crisis, etc.
- Given the interest of national and local governments, international organizations on agroecology, and that are increasingly demanding collaboration from SOCLA, we discussed ways to engage with them in a constructive but also transparent way. In this regard, SOCLA is ready to share its experience and know-how with colleagues and organizations in Africa in a coordinated capacity building effort and solidarity south-south collaboration.
Honorific President SOCLA