Ostrom’s Socio-Ecological System (SES): a framework for agro-ecological farming systems?

Authors: Inge Aalders*, The James Hutton Institute, Philippe Fleury, ISARA, Gerald Schwarz, Thuenen Institute, Jaroslav Pražan , UZEI , Audrey Vincent, ISARA, Emmanuel Guisepelli , ISARA, Francesco Vanni, CREA
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Agricultural Geography
Keywords: Ostrom, farming systems, typology
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Washington 4, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The impact of conventional agriculture on the environment, human health and the food industry has given rise to agro-ecology (AE), defined by the Association of Agro-ecology Europe as a practice, a social movement, and an action-science based on holistic and a transdisciplinary research approach. At farming system level, agro-ecology refers mainly to a set of agricultural practices where farmers use their knowledge and decision priorities for sustainable use of local renewable resources and biodiversity to provide multiple benefits (environmental, economic, and social) from local to global. The effectiveness of farming systems to develop towards more sustainable agriculture based on the introduction of agro-ecological practices in agriculture requires an approach that will include the multiple benefits and views of agriculture as socio-economic and ecological systems. This paper explores Ostrom’s SES framework for its application in assessing agro-ecological transitions in agriculture as well as the proposed modifications of the framework. Specifically, the application of the SES framework necessitates a more complex typology of farming systems, which go beyond considering just the production systems or the agro-ecological practices. We propose that for the analysis of agro-ecological transitions as a SES, additional dimensions need to include, ones that incorporate socio-economic, ecological and political settings at different scales. The paper is based on the UNISECO project (www.uniseco-project.eu) funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme (grant agreement N° 773901).

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