Agroecology is widely recognized for its contribution to improving the environmental, climate and social impacts of agriculture. Building on the understanding of ecological interactions in agricultural systems, agroecology supports farmers' ability to deliver ecosystem services, improving sustainability and resilience of agriculture in the face of climate crisis. Sufficient capacity for place-based research and knowledge co-creation, however, are needed to accelerate the transition towards agroecology in Europe. The Horizon 2020 project "European Agroecology Living Lab and Research Infrastructure Network" (ALL-Ready) addresses this need by preparing the ground for a European Network of Living labs and Research Infrastructure.
Agroecology can strengthen the resilience and sustainability of agricultural systems, thus supporting societal response to biodiversity and climate crises. It promotes a starkly different approach to industrialized agriculture. Agroecology emphasizes working closely with ecological principles, encouraging the diversity of knowledge and approaches, and the development of site-specific solutions. Many farmers in Europe already do important frontier work and experimentation on agroecological practices. The question arises how to mainstream the uptake of agroecological practices beyond innovative farmers.
A key assumption behind the ALL-Ready project is that research infrastructures and living labs can support the mainstreaming of agroecology in Europe. By developing site-specific knowledge and offering space to exchange this knowledge, living labs support farmers’ skills and capacities. They give an opportunity to experiment and to learn about solutions that work within their system and biophysical conditions. A European-wide network of living labs and research infrastructures can support partnerships and communities of actors needed to transform agricultural systems towards sustainability.
The aim of the project is to prepare and pilot a European network of Living Labs and Research infrastructures to be called "AgroEcoLLNet". Its purpose is to enable the transition towards agroecology throughout Europe. The objectives guiding this process are to:
- Define the mission and vision for AgroEcoLLNet with all relevant stakeholders
- Identify, map and evaluate existing components of AgroEcoLLNet
- Draw up an implementation plan (2023-2030) for AgroEcoLLNet
- Capacity building programme for the AgroEcoLLNet implementation phase
- Prepare a data and knowledge management strategy and principles for the future network.
- Roll out a communication programme to ensure a common understanding of agroecology amongst key stakeholders, including the general public, to provide a knowledge base for policy makers and to promote engagement among the agricultural community and funders.
Ecologic Institute in ALL-Ready
Ecologic Institute contributes to activities on stakeholder engagement and the development of an implementation plan for the network. The Ecologic Team will synthesize outcomes of stakeholder workshops and the pilot network, identifying key findings relevant for the implementation an EU network. It will support the identification of key criteria to ensure the sustainability and implementation of the EU network.