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Overview of the Project

Agroecology is increasingly recognized in local and international spheres as a relevant answer to actual and future agricultural, rural and food security challenges. Agroecology is defined as a scientific discipline, a set of agricultural practices and a social movement.

Agroecological transition refers both to a process of dissemination of the most promising agroecological practices at farm level and to the extension of agroecological principles to the whole food system. Five levels of agroecological transition are defined and recognized, from farm to fork.

Agroecology transition can be particularly appropriated in North Africa which is the most food-import-dependent region in the World and a climate change hotspot, and where climate change and population growth forecasts predict an aggravating situation.

The adoption of agroecological practices can in particular allow the improvement of food and agricultural systems’ performances; food and nutrition security; or vulnerable rural populations’ resilience and adaptation to climate change.

The process of agroecological transition is often seen as context specific, but it is also based on transdisciplinary approaches, in which the agroecological knowledge is shared and co-built between the farmers and the researchers and intends to make connection with consumers and therefore food system, through structured dialogue and exchanges in particular with public decision-making and civil society associations.

In this context, the NATAE project (North African Transition to Agroecology) will set 6 living labs in a participatory way so as to characterize, assess and stimulate local stakeholders’ dynamics around the agroecological potentials and constraints for the region. Furthermore, these living labs represent the main relevant agro socio environmental zones of the region: oasian systems; and peri-oasian; peri-urban areas; mountains; cereals plain; irrigated valley and plains. Last, they are characterized by previous development and research projects implementation in the field of sustainable agriculture bringing in valuable inputs with regards to already existing agroecological practices.

NATAE aims at identifying optimal combinations of agroecological practices, and developing a replicable methodology to design evidence-based locally-tailored strategies for Agroecology transitions on one hand, at networking through the setting-up of a durable Mediterranean network and community of knowledge: MEDAE. Building on the strength of an exceptional multi-actor and multidisciplinary consortium, NATAE will broadly disseminate its findings, impacting future curricula in North Africa and Europe, future development programs and future policies.

NATAE is a project funded by the European Commission that started in December 2022 and will end in November 2026.

Ethics and protection of personal data is an essential element in NATAE. To ensure compliance of the project implementation with EU best practices and national state policies of relevant countries when applicable, NATAE has appointed an External Ethics Advisor to ensure that all the identified ethics issues are taken into consideration and adequately addressed. Additionally, an Ethics Guideline is being prepared and shall constitute the main document upon which the EU values and regulations are translated to the relevant context of the NATAE project and which will be used by the project partners for guidance and compliance.

Objectives

The aim of this project is to bring together high-level research and education institutions from around the Mediterranean, international organizations and specialized NGOs with long-term presence on the ground to demonstrate that agro-ecological approaches, tailored locally to the diversity of farming systems, can offer adequate solutions to food system challenges in North Africa.

(SO1) To Comprehend

● To identify promising agroecological practices combinations
● To analyze stakeholders’ knowledge and perceptions on agroecology

(SO2) To Assess

● To measure the qualitative and quantitative impacts of agroecology strategies for different farming systems
● To identify levers and constraints for the agroecological practices diffusion and conditions, means and tools to support agroecological transitions

(SO3) To Enlarge

●To broaden agroecological value chains
● To strengthen market access strategies for small producers and to enhance consumers' demand for agroecological food products

(SO4) To network

● To set up a Mediterranean multi-actor network on agroecology, fostering knowledge exchange across different communities

(SO5) To Empower

● To empower key stakeholders in charge of policy elaboration and higher education to foster agroecological transition

Work Packages

NATAE project work is structured in 7 different work packages lead by different partners of the project:

WP1 aims to develop an integrated evaluation framework to perform a multidimensional assessment of the performance of agro-ecological practices combinations to evaluate their potential and actual contribution to agro-ecological transitions.

WP2 aims, by developing and using an integrated modelling chain, to identify and assess optimal AEP combinations, co-designed with local stakeholders. The scenarios and integrated modelling chain developed at the LL level will also be tested on “simplified” replication labs (RL).

WP3 will consider the whole food system scale, with the objectives to assess consumers demand for agroecological products, to assess producers’ social acceptability of agroecological practices combinations and to identify main opportunities and bottlenecks in agroecological value chains.

Based on an iterative multi-actor approach, WP4 will identify the most promising agroecological practices, combinations,  strategies and policies for the main representative farming systems of North Africa.

WP5 will design and implement a dissemination, communication and exploitation strategy and will establish a knowledge and capacity building community (MEDAE) to share best practices across countries, actors and disciplines

Objectives

WP6 will specify the main policy options for fostering agroecological transitions through dedicated policy research at different scales

WP7 will support agroecological transition by integrating innovations capitalized by the NATAE project, into the education and extension systems of partner countries

Project Team

Coordinator

International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies - Mediterranean Agronomic
Institute of Montpellier

The CIHEAM IAMM is an international institution of higher education and research and one of four institutes of the CIHEAM, an intergovernmental organisation founded in 1962. Located in Montpellier, France, the CIHEAM IAMM focuses on training, research and development including the explaining & awareness raising around the major agricultural & food transformations around the Mediterranean. Through human and social sciences, it sheds light on Mediterranean transformations and public decision-making along three axes: agro-ecosystems sustainability; local agri-food chains insertion in global value chains; and rural territories governance.
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Project Partners

Associated Partner

Union Internationale Pour La Conservation De La Nature Et De Ses Ressources

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a unique membership union of government and civil society organizations. Drawing on the experience, resources and reach of more than 1,400 Member organizations and the contributions of over 15,000 experts, IUCN is the world's authority on the status of the natural world and the actions needed to safeguard it.
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Advisory Board

Bruno Romagny

Bruno Romagny is an economist, research director (HDR) at the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (Institut de recherche pour le développement, IRD) and member of the Population - Environment - Development Laboratory (LPED, UMR 151 IRD - AMU) in Marseille. He co-directed (2016-2021) the International joint laboratory (Laboratoire Mixte International, LMI) MediTer "Terroirs méditerranéens ", located in Morocco (Rabat & Marrakech) and Tunisia. Between 2011 and 2014, he served as scientific officer for the director of the Social Sciences Department at the IRD headquarters. The modes of appropriation of renewable resources (water, fish, forests, etc.) as well as the difficulties raised by their concerted management at different scales, in close connection with public policies, constitute the heart of his reflections.

Paul Luu

Paul Luu is an agronomist specialized in tropical agronomy, graduate of AgroParisTech and the University of Montpellier (PhD). He collaborated in various research projects (St. Lucia, Sri Lanka and Tonga) before joining the Department of International Relations of the French Ministry of Agriculture. With the FAO, the WB and the CGIAR, he has led bilateral relationships with Africa and the Mediterranean, and managed the French food aid. Since 2002 and for 9 years, he served as Technical Advisor and as Director of ODEADOM in the French overseas departments and territories. He was appointed Director of Agropolis International (Montpellier) in 2011 before joining the CGIAR in 2013 as Liaison Officer with the French Authorities, then as Protocol Officer. Since 2016, Paul serves as the Executive Secretary of the “4 per 1000 Initiative: Soils for food security and climate”, launched at COP 21 in Paris.

Rachel Bezner Kerr

Rachel Bezner Kerr is a Professor in Global Development at Cornell University, and does research in Africa on sustainable agriculture, gender, climate change adaptation, food security and nutrition. She was a Coordinating Lead Author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability (Chapter 5). Dr. Bezner Kerr also served as a member of the High Level Panel of Experts for the United Nations Committee for World Food Security, coauthoring the 2019 report on agroecology

Mohammed Adhergal

Mohammed Aderghal is a professor of geography at Mohammed V University of Rabat. Currently Director of the Laboratory "Tourism Engineering, Heritage and Sustainable Development of Territories" (LITOPAD), President of the National Association of Moroccan Geographers (ANAGEM) and member of the Observatory of Agroecology in Morocco (OAM). He develops social geography approaches to understand the relationship between population mobility and the dynamics of agropastoral and rural systems in the mountains and in the oases. He also questions public agricultural policies and how local societies react to the mechanisms by which the State seeks to standardize resource and land management practices.

Youssef Brouziyne

Dr. Youssef Brouziyne is the International Water Management Institute’s (IWMI) Country Representative¬ – Egypt, and Regional Representative – Middle East and North Africa. He brings a diversified experience in sustainability stewardship and resilience building across the water and agricultural value chains in North Africa, West Africa, and Southern Europe with multinational agribusiness corporations and an applied research university in Morocco. Currently, together with a highly skilled team in the IWMI’s MENA office and a diversified panel of partners, Dr Youssef Brouziyne strives to help stakeholders in the region move towards growth and sustainable development through innovative science-based water and climate solutions.

Faten Khamassi

Faten Khamassi is a holder of a doctorate in Rural Economy and Development from the National Agronomic Institute of Tunisia and is the author of several expert reports and scientific publications on the contribution of the value chain analysis approach to analysis of local development and the organization of agro-industrial sectors as a driver of territorial development and improving access to markets for local products. She is an international expert with more than 25 years of experience in the fields of value chain analysis and territorial development in different Mediterranean and African countries and is an expert moderator of several workshops for the development of strategies in different contexts and different countries for the benefit of the World Bank, EU, GIZ, UNIDO, UNDP. She held the position of director of international cooperation within the institution of scientific research and higher agricultural education, IRESA, from 2019 to 2021 and the position of chief of staff of the Minister of Agriculture, hydraulic resources and fishing from 2021 to 2023.
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