Using Agroecology to Advance Sustainable Development Goals in China: Pathways of Transition Towards a Sustainable Food System

SSHRC Partnership Development Grant (2019-21)

Chinese SDG diagram

Over the last three decades, China's agricultural sector has witnessed damaging ecological and social consequences of boosting production, such as overuse of fossil-fuel-based chemical fertilizers, water pollution, soil erosion, and the widespread food safety concerns. These challenges hinder its ability to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015. In response to these challenges, a range of government, farmer-led, grassroots and consumer-led agroecology initiatives have emerged in China over the past decade or so. Much of the groundwork has been laid for an agroecology transition, and many of these initiatives have been contributing to achieving the SDGs in China. China is in a unique position to become a global leader in sustainable food systems and agroecology.

The overall goal of this project is to identify, amplify, and promote the potential of agroecology and existing agroecological practices for achieving the SDGs in China through transitioning China’s agriculture sector towards agroecological production systems. We seek to build research capacity and influence pathways for mobilizing research with Chinese partners. Our specific objectives are as follows:

  1. To examine the roles and the potential of existing agroecology practices for advancing the SDGs in China’s socioeconomic and political context
  2. To identify critical obstacles (epistemological, regulatory, financial and operational), faced by key stakeholders, to transitioning to agroecological production systems in China
  3. To develop a set of recommendations and information toolkits, targeted to diverse stakeholder groups (different government departments, researchers, general public) for overcoming obstacles and transitioning towards a sustainable food system through agroecology