Agroecology (AE) is gaining importance in the research and policy agendas. An AE transition project goes further than scaling up of AE innovations; it needs to reverse the present trend in which systems relying on AE are disappearing under the pressure of industrial agri-food chain. Advancing such a project thus needs to deal with two main challenges:

  • reframing the debate from a static comparison of current performances of existing farming systems to a comparison of transformation scenarios;
  • testing whether a conversion to AE at the scale of the whole EU agro-food systems is possible, enabling a fairer comparison with the BAU on each scenario’s performance across the three dimensions of sustainable development.


Against this backdrop, this policy brief seeks to demonstrate the value added of a scenario exercise that explicitly describes possible transition pathways towards an agroecology transition in Europe to fuel the policy debate on European agriculture transformation. It proposes orientations on how to frame such and exercise from both a methodological and a political point of view.

From a methodological point of view, we show the need for a scenario exercise to be multi-scalar and to integrate four perspectives:

  1. an agrarian system approach, linking agroecological transition processes at the landscape level to the evolution of global food supply at the European level;
  2. an analysis of the trends and drivers of change on the “consumption side”, and particularly possible and necessary changes in diets;
  3. a food chain perspective, which reflects upon how current trends in the food chain should be inflected to allow for technical and commercial changes at the farm level;
  4. an institutional perspective, which identifies how the European regulatory framework needs to be changed and what are the levers to remove socio-technical lock-in.

From a political point of view, we demonstrate that to really open strategic opportunities, a scenario exercise should:

  1. not only describe a picture of the European agriculture converted to agroecology 20 years down the line but also narrate the pathway(s) through which such a transition could happen;
  2. compare an agro-ecological scenario to a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario to enable a wide and symmetrical discussion of potential costs and benefits of both scenarios, in particular the possible deadlocks of the BAU, that are often not explicitly discussed, as well as the whole range of benefits of an agroecological transition scenario, that are often disregarded.
Download the publication

PDF - 63.21 KB

4 pages