ETC focuses on sustainable use of natural resources (land, water, forest, biodiversity) through people-centred approaches. We aim for institutional change through multi-stakeholder approaches. We support capacity building, action research and advisory activities that enhance livelihoods of people living in rural areas. We work with a wide range of Southern and Northern-based partners including government institutions, research institutions, non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations, farmer organisations, multilateral organisations and donor agencies. Biocultural diversity is a new field of ETC that links (agro) biodiversity, rights-based approaches and cultural diversity.
Despite the global commitment to eradicating hunger in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and many decades of agricultural and food security research, policy development and implementation, the absolute number of undernourished people in the world continues to rise. Over 70% of the world’s poor and hungry live in rural settings and depend directly on agriculture, with 2.1 billion of them living on less than U$ 2 per day. The natural resources on which smallholder farmers depend are threatened by conflict, poverty, population pressure and climate change, particularly in the more marginal areas. Although it has often been said that smallholders cannot withstand these threats and will disappear, they have proved to be remarkably resilient, and have continued to make an important contribution to ensuring global food security. A greater focus on promoting sustainable smallholder farming is needed to meet current food security and agricultural production challenges, recognising the socio-economic and agro-ecological conditions under which they live.
Our ambitions and goals
ETC’s engagement in the Global South is based on a vision of a world where the lives and livelihoods of poor and marginalised people dependant on natural resources such as water, forests, land, livestock are not only protected but also sustainably improved. Since its beginnings in the early 1980s, ETC’s hallmarks have been participatory and inclusive approaches, ecologically sound low-external-input technologies, transparent and accountable governance systems, working with local and indigenous knowledge, innovative funding mechanisms and collaboration of multiple stakeholders.
ETC has been a frontrunner in developing methodologies, building competencies, setting up resource centres and managing international networks in thematic areas such as low-external-input and sustainable agriculture, urban agriculture and food security, endogenous development and protection of biological and cultural diversity, local innovation and climate change adaptation, building adaptive capacity and resilience, pastoral livelihood development etc.
Important elements in our work are participatory approaches based on local strengths, capacity building, ecologically sound technologies and active recognition that women and men are to be considered equal partners. We give special attention to the sustainability of programmes and their impact on the environment.