Assessment of the growth in social groups for sustainable agriculture and land management

In Global Sustainability
Volume (Issue): 3, e23
Peer-reviewed Article

For agriculture and land management to improve natural capital over whole landscapes, social cooperation has long been required. The political economy of the later twentieth and early twenty-first centuries prioritized unfettered individual action over the collective, and many rural institutions were harmed or destroyed. Since then, a wide range of social movements, networks and federations have emerged to support transitions towards sustainability and equity. Here, we focus on social capital manifested as intentionally formed collaborative groups within specific geographic territories. These groups focus on: (1) integrated pest management; (2) forests; (3) land; (4) water; (5) pastures; (6) support services; (7) innovation platforms; and (8) small-scale systems. We show across 122 initiatives in 55 countries that the number of groups has grown from 0.50 million (in 2000) to 8.54 million (in 2020). The area of land transformed by the 170–255 million group members is 300 Mha, mostly in less-developed countries (98% groups; 94% area). Farmers and land managers working with scientists and extensionists in these groups have improved both environmental outcomes and agricultural productivity. In some cases, changes to national or regional policy supported this growth in groups. Together with other movements, these social groups could now support further transitions towards policies and behaviours for global sustainability.

Author:
Jules
Pretty
Simon
Attwood
Richard
Bawden
Henk
van den Berg
Zareen
P. Bharucha
John
Dixon
Cornelia
Butler Flora
Kevin
Gallagher
Ken
Genskow
Sue
E. Hartley
Jan
Willem Ketelaar
Japhet
K. Kiara
Viyay
Kumar
Yuelai
Lu
Tom
MacMillan
Anne
Maréchal
Alma
Linda Morales-Abubakar
Andrew
Noble
P. V. Vara
Prasad
Ewald
Rametsteiner
John
Reganold
Jacob
I. Ricks
Johan
Rockström
Peter
Thorne
Songliang
Wang
Hannah
Wittman
Michael
Winter
Puyun
Yang
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