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Special Issue "Agroecology for the Transition towards Social-Ecological Sustainability"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Social Ecology and Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 November 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Marina García-Llorente

Madrid Institute for Rural Development, Agricultural and Food Research (IMIDRA), Madrid, Spain
Website | E-Mail
Interests: agroecology; ecosystem service assessment; human connectedness to nature; rural development; social-ecological system; social farming; participatory action research
Guest Editor
Dr. Elisa Oteros-Rozas

Universidad Pablo de Olavide (UPO), Seville, Spain
Website | E-Mail
Interests: traditional ecological knowledge; pastoralism; political agroecology; gender; new peasantries
Guest Editor
Dr. Federica Ravera

Universitat de Vic- Universitat Central de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
Website | E-Mail
Interests: climate change adaptation; ecological economics; gender; multicriteria decision analysis; scenarios; sustainable rural development; vulnerability assessment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Despite the scientific and technological achievements to improve agricultural productivity, insufficient attention has been paid to the environmental and social consequences of the prevailing agrifood system. Academics, practitioners and activists have been discussing in the last decades how can an increasing population be fed in a social-ecologically sustainable and equitable way. Meanwhile, agricultural intensification has situated agroecosystems in a vulnerable situation because of the decline of cultural values, key ecological processes and ecosystem services. As a response, agroecology was born to address the problems generated by industrial agriculture: it is presented as a practice, scientific discipline, and socio-political movement that tries to apply ecological concepts in the sustainable management of agricultural systems. Like the socio-ecological approach, agroecology requires holistic and interdisciplinary views to analyze the complex relationships that are generated between ecological functioning, human wellbeing, economic profitability, governance models and land-use policies. However, to date, agroecology has not gained enough strength as a scientific discipline and its application in agrarian, rural and landscape planning policies is hence limited. For this Special Issue we welcome contributions exploring how agroecological approaches promote the sustainability of agrarian social-ecological systems. Specifically, we welcome conceptual and empirical studies that may focus on agroecological initiatives that contribute to global and climate change adaptation and mitigation, community supported agriculture models, social and inclusive farming, agrarian ecosystem services assessments, agroecological rural development, the role of local/traditional/indigenous agroecological knowledge and its transmission, agroecological public policies, participatory-actions research processes, and gender and rural perspectives.

Dr. Marina García-Llorente
Dr. Elisa Oteros-Rozas
Dr. Federica Ravera
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Agroecology
  • Agroecosystem
  • Ecosystem service
  • Local/traditional/indigenous ecological knowledge
  • Gender            
  • Governance
  • Global change adaptation
  • Participatory approach
  • Social-ecological system
  • Social and inclusive farming
  • Social learning

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle The Contribution of Traditional Agroecological Knowledge as a Digital Commons to Agroecological Transitions: The Case of the CONECT-e Platform
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3214; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093214
Received: 18 July 2018 / Revised: 15 August 2018 / Accepted: 3 September 2018 / Published: 8 September 2018
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Abstract
Traditional agroecological knowledge (TAeK) refers to the cumulative and evolving body of knowledge, practices, beliefs, institutions, and worldviews about the relationships between a society or cultural group and their agroecosystems. These knowledge systems contribute to maintaining environmental and culturally sensitive food systems and
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Traditional agroecological knowledge (TAeK) refers to the cumulative and evolving body of knowledge, practices, beliefs, institutions, and worldviews about the relationships between a society or cultural group and their agroecosystems. These knowledge systems contribute to maintaining environmental and culturally sensitive food systems and have been considered very relevant for agroecological transitions, or the processes of scaling-up and -out agroecology. However, TAeK’s erosion and enclosure threatens its use and reproduction, which in turn might affect TAeK’s potential contribution to agroecological transitions. Here, we explore how transforming TAeK, and particularly TAeK on landraces, into a digital commons can contribute to its maintenance and protection, and thus to agroecological transitions. We do so by analyzing the CONECT-e platform, an initiative for digitally storing and sharing TAeK in a participatory way. One year after being launched, CONECT-e has documented 452 geographically distinct landraces from 81 different species. The information shared in this platform is well-structured, clear, and reliable; it thus allows for the replication of the knowledge reported. Moreover, because CONECT-e makes the documented information freely available and protects it with a copyleft license, placing information in this platform could help one face landrace misappropriation issues. CONECT-e, or similar initiatives, could contribute to agroecological transitions via maintaining TAeK under the digital commons framework, making it accessible to all society and avoiding enclosure processes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Translating Agroecology into Policy: The Case of France and the United Kingdom
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2930; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082930
Received: 25 May 2018 / Revised: 3 August 2018 / Accepted: 10 August 2018 / Published: 17 August 2018
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Abstract
The popularity of agroecology has grown over the last few years as an alternative paradigm for food systems. This public attention has meant agroecology is increasingly becoming institutionalised and integrated into food policy frameworks. While there is a significant body of literature discussing
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The popularity of agroecology has grown over the last few years as an alternative paradigm for food systems. This public attention has meant agroecology is increasingly becoming institutionalised and integrated into food policy frameworks. While there is a significant body of literature discussing the origins and worldviews intrinsic to agroecology, hardly any academic publications focusing on analysing policies claiming to have an agroecological focus exist. This first policy study of its kind contributes to the scarce agroecological policy literature by interrogating what we argue is a ‘translation’ process, which starts with the vision of agroecology and analyses how the concept changes once it has been operationalised into a policy document or law. Evidence from two European agricultural policy contexts, namely France and the United Kingdom, is presented. The methodology followed focused on the analysis of the context, problem construction, conceptualisation of agroecology, operational principles, and policy instruments included in the policy documents. Three main themes emerged from the case studies: differences in framing agroecology in the public policy arena; common dependencies to existing configurations influencing translations of agroecology in public policies; and the need for democratic discussion on the hybridisation of agroecology itself, as well as on implied, but often veiled, political choices. This paper concludes that a selective and relational hybridisation of agroecology is emerging during its ‘translation’ into public policies. Full article
Open AccessArticle Energy Assessment of Pastoral Dairy Goat Husbandry from an Agroecological Economics Perspective. A Case Study in Andalusia (Spain)
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2838; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082838
Received: 21 June 2018 / Revised: 27 July 2018 / Accepted: 5 August 2018 / Published: 9 August 2018
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Abstract
This paper presents a methodological proposal of new energy sustainability indicators according to a novel accounting that follows agroecological and ecological economics criteria. Energy output is reformulated to include manure and thus consider the contribution to fertilization made by pastoral livestock farming to
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This paper presents a methodological proposal of new energy sustainability indicators according to a novel accounting that follows agroecological and ecological economics criteria. Energy output is reformulated to include manure and thus consider the contribution to fertilization made by pastoral livestock farming to agroecosystems. Energy inputs calculations include the grazing resources. These new definitions and calculations allow for new formulations of the energy return on investment (EROI) as measures of the energy efficiency of livestock farming systems (final EROI and food/feed EROI). The environmental benefit of manure is estimated from the avoided energy cost of using this alternative to inorganic fertilizers (AECM). The environmental benefit of grazing is measured through the energy cost of avoiding cultivated animal feed (AECP) and its impact in terms of non-utilized agricultural area (ALCP). The comparative analysis of different livestock breeding systems in three pastoral dairy goat farms in the Sierra de Cádiz in Andalusia, southern Spain, reveals the analytical potential of the new energy sustainability indicators proposed, as well as the potential environmental benefits derived from territorial-based stockbreeding and, more specifically, grazing activities. Those benefits include gains in energy efficiency, a reduction of the dependence on non-renewable energy, and environmental costs avoided in terms of energy in extensive pastoral systems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Holistic Management and Adaptive Grazing: A Trainers’ View
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1848; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061848
Received: 22 March 2018 / Revised: 25 April 2018 / Accepted: 31 May 2018 / Published: 2 June 2018
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Abstract
Holistic Management (HM) is a grazing practice that typically uses high-intensity rotation of animals through many paddocks, continually adapted through planning and monitoring. Despite widespread disagreement about the environmental and production benefits of HM, researchers from both sides of that debate seem to
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Holistic Management (HM) is a grazing practice that typically uses high-intensity rotation of animals through many paddocks, continually adapted through planning and monitoring. Despite widespread disagreement about the environmental and production benefits of HM, researchers from both sides of that debate seem to agree that its emphasis on goal-setting, complexity, adaptivity and strategic decision-making are valuable. These ideas are shared by systems thinking, which has long been foundational in agroecology and recognized as a valuable tool for dealing with agricultural complexity. The transmission of such skills is thus important to understand. Here, twenty-five Canadian and American adaptive grazing trainers were interviewed to learn more about how they teach such systems thinking, and how they reflect upon their trainees as learners and potential adopters. Every trainer considered decision-making to be a major component of their lessons. That training was described as tackling both the “paradigm” level—changing the way participants see the world, themselves or their farm—and the “concept/skill” level. Paradigm shifts were perceived as the biggest challenge for participants. Trainers had difficulty estimating adoption rates because there was little consensus on what constituted an HM-practitioner: to what level must one adopt the practices? We conclude that: (1) trainers’ emphasis on paradigms and decision-making confirms that HM is systems thinking in practice; (2) the planning and decision-making components of HM are distinct from the grazing methods; and (3) HM is a fluid and heterogeneous concept that is difficult to define and evaluate. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Absent Agroecology Aid: On UK Agricultural Development Assistance Since 2010
Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 505; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020505
Received: 29 December 2017 / Revised: 1 February 2018 / Accepted: 9 February 2018 / Published: 13 February 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (575 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Using figures published by the UK Department of International Development (DFID), this study finds that despite overwhelming evidence in favour of agroecology as a mode of agricultural development able to address crucial aspects of the interrelated crises facing human societies, UK development aid
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Using figures published by the UK Department of International Development (DFID), this study finds that despite overwhelming evidence in favour of agroecology as a mode of agricultural development able to address crucial aspects of the interrelated crises facing human societies, UK development aid barely supports agroecology. Based on the most generous interpretation, this study shows for the first time that aid for agroecological projects is less than 5% of agricultural aid and less than 0.5% of total UK aid budget since 2010. Since 1 January 2010, no funds at all have been directed at or been committed to projects with the main focus on development or promotion of agroecological practices. Minor funds have been directed at projects which include some activities promoting agroecology at the most basic level of resource efficiency (e.g., conservation agriculture). By largely supporting industrial and Green Revolution agriculture, UK Aid priorities contribute very little to the transition towards social-ecological sustainability in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview Agroecology in Canada: Towards an Integration of Agroecological Practice, Movement, and Science
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3299; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093299
Received: 6 July 2018 / Revised: 30 August 2018 / Accepted: 11 September 2018 / Published: 15 September 2018
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Abstract
This article surveys the current state of agroecology in Canada, giving particular attention to agroecological practices, the related social movements, and the achievements of agroecological science. In each of these realms, we find that agroecology emerges as a response to the various social
[...] Read more.
This article surveys the current state of agroecology in Canada, giving particular attention to agroecological practices, the related social movements, and the achievements of agroecological science. In each of these realms, we find that agroecology emerges as a response to the various social and ecological problems associated with the prevailing industrial model of agricultural production that has long been promoted in the country under settler colonialism. Although the prevalence and prominence of agroecology is growing in Canada, its presence is still small and the support for its development is limited. We provide recommendations to achieve a more meaningful integration of agroecology in Canadian food policy and practice. Full article
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