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Publication | 4 January 2021

The 10 Elements of Agroecology: enabling transitions towards sustainable agriculture and food systems through visual narratives

Global Food and Nutrition Security

The magnitude and urgency of the challenges facing agriculture and food systems demand profound modifications in different aspects of human activity to achieve real transformative change and sustainability. Recognizing that the inherent complexity of achieving sustainability is commonly seen as a deterrent to decision-making, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has approved the 10 Elements of Agroecology as an analytical framework to support the design of differentiated paths for agriculture and food systems transformation, hence facilitating improved decision-making by policymakers, practitioners and other stakeholders in differing contexts at a range of levels on a number of scales. Biodiversity, consumers, education and governance are identified as promising entry points to build a structured process using visual narratives that rely on the 10 Elements of Agroecology to graphically dissect prospective social-ecological transition trajectories. The paper illustrates such applications with examples from agroforestry worldwide, public food procurement in Brazil and the United States of America, and agroecology education vis-à-vis secure access to land in Senegal. Nexus approaches are used to highlight and examine salient interactions among different sectors and entry points, and to develop visual narratives describing plausible theories of transformative change towards sustainable agriculture and food systems.