Resilience - why is this important?

Resilience is about becoming environmentally friendly with our food and farming system. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us how much impact it can have on the global economy, on the rapid and widespread way in which the current agro-food system has broken down overnight and how this has affected our daily lives.

This raises the question of how we can build greater resilience in our food systems to better withstand a crisis like this in the future. Building food resilience means replacing the current global industrial farming system with localised and eco-friendly food systems.

During this crisis, many countries across Europe have proven to be highly dependent on food imports from other regions of the world, and thus on the resilience of food systems of other countries.

This has exposed that the cracks of our current agricultural system are not necessarily linked at a single farm or country level, rather to a systemic weakness that exists in the whole European food sector.

Food chains in the industrial farming system are extremely unsustainable - where consumers and producers are kept at a distance - and often rely on invisible migrant seasonal workers to plant, harvest or work in slaughterhouses.

This creates an inherent vulnerability in the whole system: a breakdown in the chain leads to the whole thing falling apart.

The change we want to see

There is growing public concern across Europe over such a food system, not least because of its impact on climate change and its limited resilience to food sovereignty.

  • Agroecology is the answer to the systemic failures of current food production. A green, small-scale agricultural system is more resilient to shocks and favours greater socio-economic recovery because, by diversifying the range of crops grown and reducing dependency on external inputs like pesticides and the long production chains, producers and consumers are able to mitigate their economic risk. They also offer more job opportunities, as they can contribute to addressing the imminent mass unemployment expected due to this crisis.
  • Therefore, the shift towards food relocation and re-territorialization is an opportunity to have more equitable and sustainable food systems. That is why we need the European Union and the Member States to act quickly to implement measures that promote this transformation to make our food system resilient and our local economy thriving.
  • Europe must show courage in fighting the rhetoric of the agribusiness lobby who is doing everything it can to water down the European Green Deal and other measures proposed by the European Commission to develop a more sustainable agricultural system of our continent, with the excuse that the agricultural industry needs to have free hands to continue business as usual to “feed the growing world population”.

Supporting small - and medium-scale producers and local food chains is the only way to ensure and strengthen food sovereignty across Europe.

This would help small- and medium-scale local farmers economically, improve the quality of the food we eat and the health of all Europeans, because people with resilient livelihoods would be better prepared - and can cope better - with recurring, prolonged or unexpected shocks.

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