Agro-ecological Knowledge Hub


There is an increased awareness that agro-ecological farming systems (AEFS) are fundamental for sustainable food production in the future. The key dilemma is how to produce public goods whilst having viable production of private goods, securing economic and social sustainability at a farm level, which is not overly dependent on public funds. The ambition of UNISECO is to address this key dilemma through co-constructing improved, practice-validated strategies and incentives for the promotion of AEFS in participatory case studies in 15 European Countries.

The case studies follow the developed adapted Socio-Ecological System (SES) framework (Guisepelli et al., 2018) to undertake in-depth analysis of underlying processes (using interviews, focus group discussion and workshops with key actors) and quantitative assessments of the sustainability implications of innovative approaches, market incentives and policy instruments for AEFS (using the decision support tools SMART, Cool Farm Tool and COMPAS). The case studies will answer the following questions:

  • How can barriers and dilemma of AEFS be addressed in a specific case study context?
  • What are the socio-economic and environmental implications of the transition to agro-ecological farming?
  • Why were innovative strategies and incentives successful (or unsuccessful) in enhancing the joint provision of private and public goods of AEFS in a specific case study context?
  • What lessons can be learnt for other cases and future policies?

The case studies cover a wide range of farming systems with different levels of agro-ecological innovations and tailored to the relative importance in each of the partner countries and in an EU-wide context. Case study selection criteria were developed with the Multi-Actor Platforms (MAPs), and covered: economic and social importance of farming systems, ecological importance and range of public goods provided, range of agro-ecological farming approaches, levels of expe-rience of implementation, existing market incentives and policy instruments, institutional set-tings, characteristics of the value chain, demographic characteristics, gender issues, data availa-bility and access (Prazan and Aalders, 2019).