Sub-theme 1. Our common SDGs?
“The food systems we want”: Justice in food systems transformations
Food systems are both at the heart of a safe and dignified human life and take a central stage in the SDGs. They substantially impact on environmental, social, and economic aspects in society, and therefore provide a strong entry point for SDG implementation. To respond to food system challenges, profound changes in the governance of food production, processing, distribution, and consumption are needed. Furthermore, food is not only an essential element of our wellbeing but also an expression of lifestyles, belonging, and social distinction, which requires an integration of these aspects into the debates on and successful implementation of food system transformations. Whereas mainstream debates on food security and systems often tend to eclipse questions of social justice, we argue, that framing food systems as common goods can help to not only taking the social dimension of food systems into account, but also works as a catalyst to building the ground for synergies that improve food systems, environmental, social, and economic dimensions of the SDGs.
As a perspective for this panel session, we propose to frame food systems from a justice perspective. We call for both conceptual and empirical contributions on the nexus of food system transformations and social justice. We are interested in the following questions:
- How can framing food systems as common goods contribute to strengthening a justice lens in food system transformation?
- How does this framing enable synergies between food systems and other key objectives of the SDGs?
- What social, environmental, and economic implications does this framing have for food system governance?
- What are successful examples of justice and human-rights-based framings in SDG implementation?
Panel 1.2. A
1. “Synecoculture” as a forever carbon-negative agro-ecological paradigm
1Centre Africain de Recherche et de Formation en Synécoculture (CARFS), Togo, 2Sony CSL, Japan
Aware of the negative impact of current agricultural production systems on human and environmental health, it seems more than urgent, even essential for African countries to focus their efforts on the adoption and promotion of new production strategies that are more productive, intensive, profitable, promote biodiversity and the ecosystem in order to face climate, food and health challenges.
It is within this framework that Synecoculture fits, a sustainable cultivation method that promotes combinations of diverse and varied plant species on a small agricultural space without the addition of chemicals; using only the symbioses between plants and the intrinsic properties of cultivated species to considerably increase productivity and increase farmers’ income while rebuilding/increasing biodiversity.
Furthermore, Synecoculture can be seen as the updated version or Act 2 of the green revolution of the early 1960s in Asia. This new agricultural technology fills the gaps of the green revolution and adapts perfectly to any type of climate. Furthermore Synecoculture is an answer to almost all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Also, women and young people from all African countries, both actors and main targets of the negative effects shared between the Agriculture-Income-Climate triptych, will be dynamically involved in the implementation of this agricultural transition for the benefit of sustainable development. of Africa.
2. Just transition principles and criteria for food systems and beyond
1Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, Switzerland, 2University of Jyväskylä, Finland
Current modern food systems around the world are neither sustainable nor just and are both, drivers of climate change and victims from it. The shortcomings of our food systems are well documented, and transformations are urgently needed. Especially the threats of climate change are no longer debated in society and politics, and the calls for taking social justice into account when addressing climate change become louder. But how can one tell if transitions towards more sustainable systems are just and for whom? Based on a literature review and interdisciplinary consultation rounds, we developed a framework of fundamental justice principles and criteria for assessing low-carbon transitions in food systems. The framework is based on social justice theories and food system sustainability literature and was discussed with researchers from various disciplines. The framework consists of 13 justice principles and 28 criteria for food system transition. By covering a comprehensive set of justice principles, the framework can be used for assessing justice aspects in low-carbon transitions in food systems, organising discussions around different justice claims in transition processes, or guiding decision-making and policy implementation for low-carbon transitions. In this presentation, I will first introduce the framework and its elaboration. I will then offer some reflections on the idea of commoning food systems and related justice implications based on the presented framework.
3. Between universalism and hedonism: What do we know about shared values concerning food to support SDG 2?
Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germany
A food system transition that successfully contributes to SDG 2 “Zero Hunger” relies on a joint responsibility concerning food and nutrition in the developed world in order to help alleviate hunger worldwide in an effective way. Yet there is a research gap, concerning the general understanding of food among the population in the Global North. In our study, we have empirically examined the portfolio of core values in relation to food applying the theory of the Schwartz Values System to analyze people’s values portfolio.
We adapted eight core values that we identified as relevant to the food sector: benevolence, hedonism, security, power, universalism, self-determination, tradition, and stimulus. These values have been operationalized with 31 statements in relation to food. In the frame of a larger online survey, we asked participants to strongly agree or not agree at all on a Likert scale in addition to various explanatory variables.
We conducted that cross-sectional survey among Slow Food Germany members, as we presume they will present a particular and more tangible value set since they constitute an informed population with higher awareness in regard to the food system. Interviewees rank their core values in relation to food. Empirical results (of 138 respondence) show that certain clusters of values have in their center statements expressing universalism. This points to a basic shared responsibility toward the common good that is needed to support SDG 2.
4. Participatory strategies towards more equitable food systems. The experience of Eo Alimenta (Galicia-Asturias)
1Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 2Independent, Spain
Eo Alimenta is a participatory food strategy in the basin of the Eo River, in the border between Galicia and Asturias (NW Spain), that is taking place since 2019. The main objective is to achieve food autonomy in this region formed by 9 municipalities with around 30.000 inhabitants. The process involves local producers, consumers, institutions and the academia in order to foster a transition towards a more sustainable and fairer food system.
It began identifying local producers in order to organize workshops between them, consumers and institutions around four main topics: production, distribution, consumption and social imaginaries around food. The aim was to design collaborative solutions that the different stakeholders could carry out. Another layer of the process was to socialize the need for more sustainable food systems through the organization of training courses, public talks and different activities at markets where local producers and consumers meet.
The whole process originated a bioregional food strategy for the years 2022-2026 organized in four main fields: encouragement of agroecological production, development of short supply chains, supporting healthy and sustainable nutrition and promoting participative management. We consider that advancing on those issues is needed to foster sustainable agriculture, to address gender inequalities and to improve the quality of life in rural areas. The integral strategy is also aimed at preserving local ecosystems and recovering biodiversity in the region. The participatory nature of Eo Alimenta and its development through a chain of small actions are essential to ensure people’s engagement in the construction of a new food system, which is aligned with EU’s Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and the SDGs.
5. Employing Citizens’ Juries for Identifying Pathways to More Sustainable Food Systems
Philipps-University Marburg, Germany
Food systems all over the world are still struggling to tackle the issue of malnourishment, while at the same time causing significant ecological impacts. Bottom-up processes in public policy decision-making can act as potential deep leverage interventions on a pathway to more sustainable food systems. The concept of citizens’ juries represents an institutionalized approach for such processes, where public decision-making is facilitated by the incorporation of balanced expert and stakeholder input, which ultimately result in legally binding policy decisions. Citizens’ juries create open discussion spaces where public representatives are actively incorporated in the deliberation on controversial issues, thereby increasing the perceived legitimacy and public acceptance of the entire decision-making process. At the same time citizens’ juries effectively blend expert information with local knowledge and stakeholder interests to achieve favorable socioeconomic and ecological outcomes for all involved parties. Based on this notion, we make the argument that citizens’ juries represent an especially helpful instrument in decision-making contexts that are characterized by complex and value-laden interrelations, as e.g., the sustainability of food systems in the Global South. Starting in early 2023 in Nandi County, Kenya, we aim to conduct an in-depth evaluation on the performance of citizen’s juries in a context just like this. More specifically, we aim to evaluate the transformative potential and legitimacy of citizens’ juries at both the individual and collective level by linking quantitative with qualitative observations.
Panel 1.2. B
1. From Agricultural to Rural Development: Local Communities in the Center of Livelihood Transformation
Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Georgia
The presented research responds to Georgia’s General Policy Orientation shift from agriculture to rural development. Aside from the proclivity to encourage new approaches and social practices in rural development, households in rural areas have unequal access to resources, making it challenging to seize new opportunities and improve their quality of life. A thorough study of rural household-based economic transition was conducted using an interdisciplinary approach contributing to re-evaluating rural development approaches and suggesting alternative models for their effective implementation. All of this enhances the rural regions’ socioeconomic situation in the long run. Ultimately, the project’s implementation complements the existing fragmentary empirical knowledge by combining rural sociology, socioeconomic geography, and exact and natural sciences disciplines and ensuring the sustainability of the rural development vector. Local families are encouraged to embrace contemporary farming practices to determine the most effective sustainable livelihoods.
Along with long-established industries, households employ traditional knowledge to enter entrepreneurial tourism activities. Common natural capital includes waterfalls, spectacular views, and fresh air, helping locals to adopt new sustainable tourism and improve alternative livelihood practices. Tourism is identified as a unique and alternative livelihood strategy for residents. Economic/financial capital – private infrastructure (locals use their own houses to develop guesthouses), lands to cultivate agricultural products and serve tourists, and local and international grants to promote tourism business development. Own investment of local dwellers in tourism facilities development.
2. African mass food markets as resilient commons
Knowledge Transfer Africa Private Limited, Zimbabwe
Every African country has mass food markets where the majority prefer to get their food and earn a living. While these fluid institutions have functioned as common pool ecosystems/resources for decades, they have remained largely unrecognized and under-researched. However, the value of these markets was clearly revealed by COVID-19 when lock-downs or restrictions in trade compelled countries and communities to rely on local markets as the main source of food. As an expression of indigenous African commerce, these markets are characterized by a unique set of values and principles which include diversity, generational knowledge transfer and inclusive participation irrespective of age, gender, social class and income levels. They may be considered informal by those who subscribe to the Western notion of a market but they are definitely not inferior as demonstrated by their key role in the African socio-economic landscape. To that end, they should certainly be used to shape the discourse and practice on alternative development pathways. Building on empirical evidence from more than six African countries, this panel will broaden and deepen the sense in which African mass food markets deserve more attention as common pool resources and pathways for culturally-rooted resilient food systems.
3. The “right of relations” between human and seeds as a tool to recommoning the international seed regime.
This article proposes to analyse the international seed governance regime from the point of view of the “right of relations”. The “rights of relations” is a concept of philosophy of law which advocates protecting the relations that human beings have with nature and its living elements in order to protect nature itself. Other legal constructs, such as the rights of nature are generally limited to a dualist, western and non-shared definition of nature (external to humanity, which we can exploit, appropriate or protect). Rather than protecting nature itself, this legal approach encompasses all forms of relationships between humans and non-humans (spiritual, social, etc.). We analyze the right of relations as a commoning process that can support new governance approaches for the conservation of agrobiodiversity.
We critically examine the global seed commons of the international treaty on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture through the lens of the “right of relations”. The “rights of relations” between humans and seeds can encourage seed commoning through new forms of biodiversity governance while being sensitive to what/who is excluded and how. This “right of relations” may be an effective approach to protecting co-development links between humans and seeds (whether physical or immaterial), a tool to protect the traditional knowledge, as well as a means to instill equity and social justice in the global governance mechanism. In conclusion, the right of relations is a promising concept to address important criticisms of the international governance seeds regime.
4. Realities of sustainability: Application of Photovoice to identify locally and culturally relevant sustainability criteria of cocoa farmers in Ecuador
FiBL Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau / Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, Switzerland
Sustainability concepts are contested and inherently normatively charged. Given the high levels of complexity and uncertainty in sustainability studies, it is necessary to transition towards a transdisciplinary approach to collaboratively generate knowledge that is suitable for the specific local and cultural circumstances. This study aims to explore the perspectives of cocoa farmers in the coastal and Amazonian regions of Ecuador on their definition of sustainability and the locally relevant criteria that must be met to achieve it. A total of 20 female and 23 male farmers were provided with photo cameras. Over a period of 4 weeks, they analysed the pictures taken within their group to identify the elements that contribute to sustainability in their lives as cocoa producers. The visual medium of photographs proved to be an effective way to overcome social and language barriers. Participants were motivated by the group setting to share and discuss the realities presented in the images, whether they depicted their own experiences or those of their peers. In both study regions, lists of approximately 40 sustainability criteria that are locally relevant were compiled. The importance, development, and influential actors for each criterion were documented, and the images were categorised according to the sustainability criteria they represented. The results indicate that the environment in which farmers operate greatly shapes their views on what is necessary for sustainable livelihoods. Thus, local perspectives should be considered when developing strategies to enhance sustainability. The key strength of this study was that the participants were responsible for selecting the topics of interest through their photographs and discussions, while the researchers merely facilitated the process.