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Agroecological approaches for climate change mitigation, resilient agricultural production and enhanced biodiversity

Achieving sustainable agricultural production that fosters both climate change mitigation and adaptation of agriculture to climate change is a policy objective that implies finding a balance with productivity and wider sustainability goals, such as preserving and enhancing biodiversity. Agroecology[[http://www.fao.org/3/i9037en/i9037en.pdf]] can provide an important contribution to achieving these objectives, while at the same time enhancing food and nutrition security, thus contributing to achieving the objectives of the farm to fork and biodiversity strategies and the Sustainable Development Goals. Agroecology is a holistic approach that relies on and maximises the use of ecological processes to support agricultural production. By working more with nature and ecosystem services, agroecology has the potential to increase the circularity, diversification and autonomy of farms, and drive a full transformation of farming systems, from input substitution and beyond. The effectiveness of agroecology is context-specific and practices need to be implemented on a significant proportion of farms to deliver tangible impacts on sustainability. Specific methods and indicators are needed to monitor and quantify the positive effects of these practices on climate change mitigation and adaptation at the farm and landscape levels, along with its impacts on yield stability, farm viability and biodiversity, for different farming systems and pedo-climatic conditions. Moreover, improving farmers’ uptake of agroecological practices calls for specific support measures and for the design of specific business cases at the farm and landscape levels.

Activities should improve knowledge of the contribution of agroecological practices to climate change mitigation, increased adaptation of farming to climate change, and preservation and enhancement of biodiversity, while ensuring farm profitability, thus providing an important contribution to policy design. Proposals should cover the wide range of crops and farming systems present in the EU and Associated Countries agricultural sector, from conventional to organic. Proposals must implement the 'multi-actor approach', and ensure adequate involvement of the farming sector. Projects funded under this topic should build on the results of relevant projects funded under Horizon 2020 and should ensure collaboration with projects funded under calls HORIZON-CL6-2022-FARM2FORK-02-01-two-stage: Agroecological approaches for sustainable weed management and HORIZON-CL6-2021-FARM2FORK-01-03: Digitalisation as an enabler of agroecological farming systems in this work programme.

Proposals should identify, evaluate and deliver a method that allows identification of the optimal combinations of agroecological practices and the most suitable agroecological strategies that efficiently contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation while ensuring biodiversity preservation or enhancement and overall farm profitability. Proposals should improve existing indicators and develop new ones where relevant, to monitor and measure the qualitative and quantitative impacts of these strategies, including their climate neutrality potential and trade-offs or gains in biodiversity, and the associated improvement in farm socio-economic resilience. Proposals should develop tools to identify and monitor both the implementation of agroecological practices in farm management and the full-farm agroecological approaches, analysing the scale-dependent effects from farm to landscape level, as well as the opportunities and challenges derived from regulation and market aspects. Proposals should develop and test innovative mechanisms to accompany farmers in implementing and/or switching to agroecological practices that contribute to mitigating climate change and other negative environmental impacts. Proposals should undertake an analysis of the social, environmental and economic sustainability performance of such strategies and analyse the potential to integrate such practices in business cases at farm level, including exploring the potential of labelling of products linked to agroecological practices in support of and complying with the current relevant legal framework and, where the scope of activities would cover the food system, the future EU framework for food sustainability labelling to promote and scale-up their uptake.

This topic requires the effective contribution of SSH disciplines.