SUMMARYAgroecology has three practical forms-a scientific discipline, an agricultural practice, and a social movement. Their integration has provided a collective-action mode for contesting the dominant agro-food regime and creating alternatives, especially through a linkage with food sovereignty. At the same time, agroecology has been recently adopted by some actors who also promote conventional agriculture. Agroecology can play different roles-either conforming to the dominant regime, or else helping to transform it-contingent on specific empowerment strategies. Tensions between "conform versus transform" roles can be identified in European agroecological research, especially in three areas: farm-level agroecosystems development; participatory plant breeding; and short food-supply chains remunerating agroecological methods. To play a transformative role, collaborative strategies need to go beyond the linear stereotype whereby scientists "transfer" technology or farmers "apply" scientific research results. To the extent that farmer-scientist alliances co-create and exchange knowledge, such gains can transform the research system.
The acceleration of ecological crises has driven a growing body of thinking on sustainability transitions. Agroecology is being promoted as an approach that can address multiple crises in the food system while addressing climate change and contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals. Beyond the more technical definition as, “the ecology of food systems”, agroecology has a fundamentally political dimension. It is based on an aspiration towards autonomy or the agency of networks of producers and citizens to self-organize for sustainability and social justice. In this article, we use the multi-level perspective (MLP) to examine agroecology transformations. Although the MLP has been helpful in conceptualizing historic transitions, there is a need to better understand: (a) the role of and potential to self-organize in the context of power in the dominant regime, and (b) how to shift to bottom-up forms of governance—a weak point in the literature. Our review analyzes the enabling and disabling conditions that shape agroecology transformations and the ability of communities to self-organize. We develop the notion of ‘domains of transformation’ as overlapping and interconnected interfaces between agroecology and the incumbent dominant regime. We present six critical domains that are important in agroecological transformations: access to natural ecosystems; knowledge and culture; systems of exchange; networks; discourse; and gender and equity. The article focuses on the dynamics of power and governance, arguing that a shift from top down technocratic approaches to bottom up forms of governance based on community-self organization across these domains has the most potential for enabling transformation for sustainability and social justice.
Agroecology has been proposed as a key building block for food sovereignty. This article examines the meaning, practices and potentials of 'transformative agroecology learning' as a collective strategy for food system transformation. Our study is based on our qualitative and action research with the European Coordination of Via Campesina to develop the European Agroecology Knowledge Exchange Network (EAKEN). This network is linked to the global network of La Via Campesina and builds on the strong experiences and traditions of popular education in Latin American peasant movements. Rather than focusing on agroecology education as a process of individual learning, we analyse how a transformative agroecology education can be strengthened as a critical repertoire of action used by social movements to advance food sovereignty. Our analysis contributes a new theory of transformative agroecology learning based on four key characteristics or qualities: horizontalism; diálogo de saberes (wisdom dialogues); combining practical and political knowledge; and building social movement networks. While these different elements of transformative agroecology learning were present across EAKEN, they were unevenly developed and, in many cases, not systematized. The framework can help to strategically and reflexively systematize and strengthen a transformative agroecology learning approach as a key building block for food sovereignty.
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There are close to 8500 major protected areas, covering some 5% of the world's land area. Many countries have more than 10% of their area set aside for conservation purposes. But this increase in designated conservation has been accompanied by a strong ideology that people are bad for natural resources. Policies and practice have, therefore, both encouraged exclusion and discouraged local participation. As a result, social conflicts have grown in and around protected areas, and conservation goals themselves have been threatened. Conservation science itself needs rethinking. It has been dominated by the positivist and rationalist paradigm, in which professionals assume they know best and so can analyse and influence natural resources in the ways they desire. But if natural resources are to be conserved, then the skills, knowledge and needs of local people will have to be built upon. This will require radical reversals in current professional thinking and practice.
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