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Agroecology to Promote Just Sustainability Transitions: : Analysis of a Civil Society Network in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda

Author:
  • Ellinor Isgren
  • Barry Ness
Publishing year: 2017-08-02
Language: English
Pages:
Publication/Series: Sustainability
Volume: 9
Issue: 8
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: MDPI AG

Abstract english

Agroecology is gaining ground within the debate on how to address systemic social and environmental problems in agriculture. However, it remains marginalized in agricultural research and development plans around the world. This paper analyzes agroecology as a socio-technical niche in Uganda, where its emergence in part can be seen as an unintended consequence of neoliberalist development. The case studied is a civil society network that links farmer groups and non-governmental organizations across different levels. Through the analytical lens of regime dimensions, we find that agroecology is practiced as a smallholder-centric approach that champions collective action, locally appropriate technologies, participatory methods in research and extension, and calls for more active state guidance of agricultural change along specific principles. However, two major concerns are raised; the niche converges with the dominant discourse around commercialization, and policy advocacy is hampered by the apolitical history of NGOs and an increasingly tense political climate. These two areas are critical for agroecology to contribute to just sustainability transitions, and civil society organizations with strong links to smallholder farmers need to be included in the growing scholarly debate both to inform it and to receive guidance from it. Transition frameworks can help facilitate the development of viable institutional designs and explicitly transformative strategies, but we also point towards the need for engagement with theories on civil society collective action and political mobilization.

Keywords

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • agroecology; just transitions; agricultural development; Uganda; civil society; transformative potential

Other

Published
  • ISSN: 2071-1050
Barry Ness
E-mail: barry [dot] ness [at] LUCSUS [dot] lu [dot] se

Senior lecturer

LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)

+46 46 222 48 09

+46 70 259 02 57

Wrangel, 113

Wrangel, Biskopsgatan 5, Lund

59

Associate professor

LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)

+46 46 222 48 09

+46 70 259 02 57

Wrangel, 113

Wrangel, Biskopsgatan 5, Lund

59

Introduction

Barry Ness is Associate Professor at Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies and Director of Studies of the PhD Research School. He is also the Director of the local interaction platform in Skåne for the Mistra Urban Futures project, and, and the editor-in-chief of Challenges in Sustainability (Librello Publishing). His current research interests include inter- and transdisciplinary approaches for both comprehending and addressing complex sustainability challenges.

He is also a researcher and work package leader for the Globally and Locally-sustainable Food-Water-Energy Innovation in Urban Living Labs (GLOCULL) project, focusing on creating an urban living lab approach for the food-water-energy nexus. Barry is also a project researcher in LUCID project and the TRANSFORM project (starting autumn 2018). 


 

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