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Agroecology as a transformative approach to sustainable food systems

Front cover of the book titled Critical Sustainability Sciences with chapter on Agroecology as a transformative approach to sustainable food systems. Image contains the title of the book on an abstract colourful background

This chapter in Critical Sustainability Sciences explores agroecological movements and the transformative elements of the movements including food sovereignty, local, self-organised and decentralised food systems, inclusive and non-elitist ideologies, and ancestral knowledge. The chapter explores the emancipatory and transformative potential of agroecological approaches.

This book explores a new field of critical sustainability sciences and builds on new integrations of social theory to contribute to the advancement of emancipatory perspectives on sustainability and development. The specific chapter highlighted explores these concepts within food systems research and looks at agroecological movements and the concept of food sovereignty.

Agroecological movements have been responsible for some of the most critical and transformative steps toward more sustainable societies. By taking the concept of “Food Sovereignty” as a normative goal, the approach is interesting from an emancipatory point of view. The idea of more local, self-organized, and decentralized food systems with the explicit rejection of harmful agrochemicals, transnational corporations, and genetically modified organisms has been implemented at scales from the local to the national. By being explicitly inclusive and non-elitist, agroecological movements have distinguished themselves from marketing-based initiatives such as organic certification and have taken the right-to-land and productive resources for marginalized groups as the central themes of their struggle. Many constructive technologies and governance approaches have been developed in such movements, with the long-term goal of developing food systems that respect planetary boundaries and the rights of future generations. By incorporating ancestral knowledge and the proven resilience of traditional agricultural and food systems, agroecology enables the establishment of links between the future and the past. This allows the agri-food system to adapt to the local environment, by reconnecting with knowledge and agricultural management practices molded by generations of coevolution of humanity between nature. This chapter analyzes the emancipatory and transformative potential of agroecological approaches by focusing on the inclusion of agroecology as a scientific discipline, as a set of practices and principles, and a growing social movement that fights for people’s self-determination.

Navarro, F.S., Viviana Blanco, René Montalba, 2023. Agroecology as a transformative approach to sustainable food systems, in: Critical Sustainability Sciences. Routledge.

Read more here and see our explainer on What is food sovereignty?

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