Assess your project or policy with the Agroecology Criteria Tool and find out how much transformative Agroecology it entails

The Agroecology Criteria Tool (ACT) methodology is based on the analytical framework by Gliessman on the 5 levels of food system change and is embedded within the 10 Elements of Agroecology by FAO. Each element of the transition includes a list of relevant topics or criteria, which were based on past work by DeLonge et al.

How it works

The methodology provides a structured and graphically intuitive way to identify the focus and agroecological character of an initiative. The tool has also been applied to the showcases compiled in this Info Pool.

Agroecology transformation

The methodology analyzes a continuum of a transition rather than a binary analysis and a clear definition.
According to Gliessman's 5 levels, a system is in line with basic agroecological principles if Level 3 has been reached.
Level 4 and 5 are going beyond production and focus on socio-economic aspects such as re-establishing connections between growers and eaters and responsible governance.

Overview of the 5 levels of food system change and the elements of agroecology

Agroecology basics

The underlying interpretation of agroecology is a set of agricultural priciples by FAO focused on optimizing biological synergies and diversity in the agro-ecosystems and reducing negative trade-offs. Those farming systems should clearly identify and target key ecological functions and aim to integrate these various elements carefully into the farming systems creating multiple levels of positive interactions and not just substituting external inputs and engaging in isolated, singular interventions.


The ACT methodology and framework was also a key resource for the development of the 'Agroecology Finance Assessment Tool' by the Agroecology Coalition designed to track funds from donors. Please find the peer-reviewed study on this agroecology framework including a definition and justification of the 10 red flags here: