Glossary

Agroecology

The science and practice of applying ecological concepts, principles and knowledge (i.e., the interactions of, and explanations for, the diversity, abundance and activities of organisms) to the study, design and management of sustainable agroecosystems. It includes the roles of human beings as a central organism in agroecology by way of social and economic processes in farming systems. Agroecology examines the roles and interactions among all relevant biophysical, technical and socioeconomic components of farming systems and their surrounding landscapes.

Agroforestry

Collective name for land-use systems and technologies where woody perennials (trees, shrubs, palms, bamboos, etc.) are deliberately used on the same land-management units

as agricultural crops and/or animals, in some form of spatial arrangement or temporal sequence. In agroforestry systems there are both ecological and economic interactions between the different components. Agroforestry can also be defined

as a dynamic, ecologically based, natural resource management system which, through the integration of trees on farms and

in the agricultural landscape, diversifies and sustains production for increased social, economic and environmental benefits for land users at all levels.

Climate change

A change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g., by using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/ or the variability of its properties and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. Climate change may be due to natural internal processes or external forcings such as modulations of the solar cycles, volcanic eruptions and persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or in land use. Note that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in its

Article 1, defines climate change as: ‘a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods’. The UNFCCC thus makes a distinction between climate change attributable to human activities altering the atmospheric composition and climate variability attributable to natural causes.

Conservation agriculture

Approach to managing agroecosystems for improved and sustained productivity, increased profits and food security while preserving and enhancing the resource base and the environment. It is characterised by three linked principles, namely:

  1. continuous minimum mechanical soil disturbance;
  2. permanent organic soil cover; and
  3. diversification of crop species grown in sequences and/or associations. This covers a wide range of approaches from minimum till to permaculture/“mimicking nature”.

Environment

For this report, the term ‘environment’ encompasses the macro-scale processes involved in the climate crisis (such as damaging greenhouse gas emissions), and the more local

level ecological processes impaired through natural resource degradation and biodiversity loss.

Food system

Food systems comprise all the processes involved in keeping us fed: growing, harvesting, packing, processing, transforming, transporting, marketing, consuming and disposing of food.

They include the inputs needed and outputs generated at each step. A food system operates within and is influenced by social, political, economic and natural environments.

Pro-poor growth

Economic growth which aims to benefit poor people (primarily in the economic sense of poverty). Pro-poor growth can be defined as absolute, where the poor benefits from overall growth in the economy, or relative – which refers to targeted efforts to increase the growth specifically among poor people.

Resilience

The capacity of a system to withstand the impact of shocks, while adapting and transforming to continue to fulfil its functions. Resilience building can be described as “helping people, communities, countries, and global institutions prevent, anticipate, prepare for, cope with, and recover from shocks and not only bounce back to where they were before the shocks occurred, but become even better off”.

Sustainable

For the purposes of this report, the term “sustainable” in “sustainable, healthy diets” or “sustainable food systems” is used if the contribution of a place’s food system (which

delivers locally-produced but also imported and marketed foods) can be continued without undermining the ability of the natural environment to function in the long term: that is, the system does not drive biodiversity loss, pollution, soil degradation, or climate change.

Sustainable food systems

For the purposes of this report, the term ‘sustainable food system’ is broadly used if the contribution of a place’s food system (which delivers locally-produced but also imported and marketed foods) can be continued without undermining the ability of the natural environment to function in the long term: that is, the system does not drive biodiversity loss, pollution, soil degradation, or climate change.

Sustainable, healthy diets

Sustainable, healthy diets are dietary patterns that promote all dimensions of individuals’ health and wellbeing; have low environmental pressure and impact; are accessible, affordable, safe and equitable; and are culturally acceptable.

Sustainable intensification

A process or system where agricultural yields are increased without adverse environmental impact and without the conversion of additional non-agricultural land. The concept does not articulate or privilege any particular vision or method of agricultural production. Rather, it emphasises ends rather than means, and does not pre-determine technologies, species mix or particular design components.

Transformation

A change in the fundamental attributes of natural and human systems. Societal (social) transformation is profound and often deliberate shift initiated by communities toward

sustainability, facilitated by changes in individual and collective values and behaviours, and a fairer balance of political, cultural, and institutional power in society.

Transition

The process of changing from one state or condition

to another in a given period of time. Transition can occur in individuals, firms, cities, regions and nations, and can be based on incremental or transformative change.