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Sustainability 2017, 9(8), 1357; doi:10.3390/su9081357

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

1
Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS), P.O. Box 170, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden
2
Lund University Centre of Excellence for Integration of Social and Natural Dimensions of Sustainability (LUCID), P.O. Box 170, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 June 2017 / Revised: 24 July 2017 / Accepted: 29 July 2017 / Published: 2 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Wildlife)
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Abstract

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. View Full-Text
Keywords: agroecology; just transitions; agricultural development; Uganda; civil society; transformative potential agroecology; just transitions; agricultural development; Uganda; civil society; transformative potential
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Isgren, E.; Ness, B. Agroecology to Promote Just Sustainability Transitions: Analysis of a Civil Society Network in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda. Sustainability 2017, 9, 1357.

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