The politics of adaptiveness in agroecosystems and its role in transformations to sustainable food systems

In Earth System Governance
Volume (Issue): 15
Peer-reviewed Article
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Food systems are responsible for pushing human resource use past three thresholds of safe planetary operating space, yet the potential of agroecosystems to contribute to sustainability of food systems when managed for multiple benefits is underexplored. This gap has led to a call for food systems transformation. Previous reviews have acknowledged that governance of food systems transformations is not well understood. The aim of this review is to examine the challenges to transformative governance of agroecosystems, and the potential to apply existing paradigms of adaptiveness in agroecosystems for this transformation. Agricultural production landscapes have been found to be a key level of governance for realizing sustainability transformations of food systems and the landscape concept has been a key paradigm for managing multiple social and ecological objectives at a landscape scale. An examination of the landscape concept using five transformative governance characteristics and applying the earth system governance research lenses illustrated two key areas for further investigation and action for transformative governance. The first is landscape design for continuous social and ecological changes and evolving understandings of sustainability, and the second is the allocation of landscape costs, rights and benefits in present and future decision-making and among human and non-human entities. Managing the pluralistic diversities inherent to agroecosystems will be a key dynamic important to governance and policy for food systems transformations.

M. Subramanian