News, Systems Thinking

Global Alliance Launches New Interactive Report: The Politics of Knowledge

Today, we are thrilled to be presenting The Politics of Knowledge: Understanding the Evidence for Agroecology, Regenerative Approaches, and Indigenous Foodways — a compendium that challenges assumptions about evidence and showcases the kind of holistic, transdisciplinary, and inclusive research and action required for food systems transformation. 

Shaped by the views and expertise of 17 diverse teams of authors, we hone in on the battleground of evidence and whose knowledge counts and tackle the narrative strategies that undermine action and mislead the public about what’s possible.

Authors grapple directly with the hierarchies of knowledge that exclude certain data, stories, and diverse ways of knowing from the evidence about pathways to food systems transformation, elevating case studies, reports, and research findings that are too often ignored. In turn, the compendium lifts up recommendations for transformative research and action agenda that centers on Indigenous Peoples, farmers, and communities, the importance of diverse knowledge systems, and recognizes the interconnectedness between our food systems, health, and the planet.

The late Donella Meadows, systems thinker and author of Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System, argued that narratives “are the sources of systems.” To that end, as part of this project, we have created an accompanying interactive, multimedia version that highlights some of the most salient stories from the research, supported by images, video, and audio. By breaking out stories and information into this format, we hope to extend the reach of the compendium. 

This interactive places a central focus on the farmers, researchers, and others experiencing the positive impacts of agroecology, regenerative approaches, and Indigenous foodways. Seeing and hearing the first-hand knowledge, expertise, and testimonies of farmers, researchers, and others experiencing the positive impacts of agroecology, regenerative approaches, and Indigenous foodways— alongside case studies, scientific analyses, and peer-reviewed literature — is in service of these approaches. 

As we edge towards the end of 2021, the “super year” for action on food, climate, and the SDGs, there’s still a long way to go to realize a future of food that is healthy, resilient, and equitable for all. At the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, we’re committed to advancing seven calls to action that each present a powerful pathway to food systems transformation. 

Deeply connected to Call to Action #2, compendium authors believe it is within the reach of funders, donors, researchers, and policy-makers to identify and act on the contextual barriers (lock-ins) and co-create long-term research programs designed in partnership with farmers and food provisioners, Indigenous Peoples, and women. 

Ultimately, however, for all of us, the type of transformation we need to create a future of food that is sustainable, inclusive, equitable, and resilient involves reawakening the senses and rekindling our relationships with our communities and with nature. We must channel the everyday acts of courage, imagination, ingenuity, and perseverance that farmers, food providers, women, youth, and Indigenous Peoples do, and turn them into forces for change. We know from the evidence that it can be done.

The “evidence” is the testimony and voices of the villagers in the participating communities, men and women. The evidence is what the visitors see in the fields and the local markets. The evidence is what local traditional, religious leaders and innovative farmers say from their experience with agroecology and the benefits obtained.