Domains of transition between niche and regime: The globalization of agroecology as a case study

Authors: Michael Jahi Chappell*, Coventry University, Michel Pimbert, Coventry University, Jessica Milgroom, Cultivate!, Csilla Kiss, Coventry University, Janneke Bruil, Cultivate!, Colin Ray Anderson, Coventry University
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Rural Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: transitions, agroecology, multi-level perspective, sustainability, Sustainable Development Goals
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Roosevelt 5, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The accelerating ecological crises have driven a growing body of thought on sustainability transitions. The Multi-level Perspective (MLP) has been used as one framework to understand such historic and on-going transitions. Through the lens of MLP, agroecology and other grassroots innovations function as an emerging niche that is largely at odds with the incumbent global food regime. Correspondingly, there is a need to better understand: a) the and role and potential of grassroots innovations in the context of the dominant regime; and b) how to better formulate the potential of shifts to bottom-up forms of governance. To address these gaps, we focus on a case study of the ascendant globalisation of agroecology. Agroecology is being promoted as an approach to (re)designing sustainable food systems that can address multiple crises in the food system and contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Our study reviewed the relevant literature to create a synthesis laying out enabling and disabling conditions for agroecological transition. Further, we develop the notion of ‘domains of transition’ as interfaces between niche and regime, influenced by landscape-level pressures. Each domain outlines relationships, norms, rules and activities, making them useful for understanding issues of power within niche-regime dynamics. Specifically, we outline six critical domains: access to land, seeds and water; knowledge and culture; systems of exchange; networks; discourse; and gender and equity. We then focus on governance, and how shifts from top-down technocratic approaches to bottom-up distributed ones has the most potential for enabling transitions to sustainability.

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