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Transformative Participation in Agrobiodiversity Governance: Making the Case for an Environmental Justice Approach



This paper makes the case for an environmental justice approach to the practice and study of participation and effectiveness in agrobiodiversity governance. It is argued that, in order to understand the conditions under which participation leads to improved outcomes, the concept has to be rethought, both from a political and a methodological perspective. This can be done by applying an ex-ante environmental justice approach to participation, including notions of distribution, recognition and representation. By exploring the approach through empirical examples of participation in biodiversity and environmental governance, a research framework is outlined, attempting to bridge normative and practical approaches to environmental justice, and tested on two cases of agrobiodiversity governance in Western Europe.
Transformative Participation in Agrobiodiversity
Governance: Making the Case for an Environmental
Justice Approach
Brendan Coolsaet
Accepted: 22 September 2015
Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015
Abstract This paper makes the case for an environmental justice approach to the
practice and study of participation and effectiveness in agrobiodiversity governance.
It is argued that, in order to understand the conditions under which participation
leads to improved outcomes, the concept has to be rethought, both from a political
and a methodological perspective. This can be done by applying an ex-ante envi-
ronmental justice approach to participation, including notions of distribution,
recognition and representation. By exploring the approach through empirical
examples of participation in biodiversity and environmental governance, a research
framework is outlined, attempting to bridge normative and practical approaches to
environmental justice, and tested on two cases of agrobiodiversity governance in
Western Europe.
Keywords Environmental justice Agrobiodiversity Participation
Effectiveness Environmental governance
Most environmental governance processes today include some form of participa-
Stakeholders are not confined anymore to a lobbying or implementation role
but increasingly become agents of socio-ecological innovation in environmental
governance (Biermann et al. 2009). Participation in environmental governance is
&Brendan Coolsaet
Centre for Philosophy of Law, UCLouvain, Colle
`ge Thomas More, Place Montesquieu,
2 bte L2.07.01, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
In this article, participation is understood as the involvement of non-state actors in environmental
governance processes, whether state-led or community-based.
J Agric Environ Ethics
DOI 10.1007/s10806-015-9579-2
broadly advocated for by both researchers and practitioners, as it is generally
assumed to lead to greater compliance and adherence to the norm (Schenk et al.
2007), to favor institutional fit (Galaz et al. 2008; Fung and Wright 2003), to
improve legitimacy (Engelen, Keulartz and Leistra 2007), or to spur direct bottom-
up action for the environment, all of which can potentially improve environmental
outcomes. But while the case for increased participation is based on its potential for
more environmental effectiveness, a decade of empirical research on participation in
environmental governance has produced mixed results and failed to establish causal
links between participation and higher environmental quality (among many others
see Young et al. 2013; Carr et al. 2012; Newig and Fritsch 2009; Richards et al.
2004; Beierlee and Konisky 2001).
Two major shortcomings can be identified in the current approach to participation
and effectiveness. The first shortcoming is a methodological one: the research question
is too imprecise and/or too broad to produce useful results. Some participatory
processes will yield higher environmental quality, while others will not. This can be
explained by the fact that the inclusion of stakeholders in the decision-making process
is only one of the many aspects affecting the effectiveness of environmental regimes
(Young et al. 2008). It is necessary to ask additional questions about the conditions
through which improved outcomes may occur. The second shortcoming is a political
one: participation is viewed as a depoliticized technical tool. In both research and
practice, the failure to theorize the concept of participation leads to an insufficient
understanding of the role of popular agency and institutional structures conditioning
(the effectiveness of the outcome of) participatory governance.
Considering these two points, if we are to strengthen participation as a policy
goal, an objective that seems to be firmly embedded in today’s environmental
policy-making, the question to address therefore is not if participation in
environmental governance produces effective results, but under which conditions
it does. Borrowing from contemporary thinking on transformative participation in
the development literature (see for instance, Hickey and Mohan 2004), I argue that
these conditions can be found by adopting a coherent normative stance (Reed 2008),
one that refocuses participation on issues of justice, empowerment and democracy.
The working hypothesis of this paper is that, through its recent developments,
environmental justice presents an excellent candidate for such a coherent normative
stance. Through the comparison of two effective agrobiodiversity initiatives (i.e. of
which the outcome improves agrobiodiversity), this paper analyzes the justice-
relevant governance conditions underlying the success, using environmental justice
as an analytical framework. The goal here is to approach participation from a rights-
based perspective, exploring the possible relations between normative claims for the
empowerment of participants and the environmental effectiveness of the outcome,
understood in this paper as the improvement of agrobiodiversity.
Agrobiodiversity is interesting in this context, as it is not only an environmental
issue, but a tool for political, cultural and economic autonomy. Indeed, the
diversification of agrobiodiversity is a condition to break with a farming system in
which plant and animal varieties, agricultural knowledge and practices, as well as
commercialization and distribution are controlled by a small group of dominant
B. Coolsaet
actors. In other words, using traditional varieties and local landraces is seen as a
political statement (Demeulenaere and Bonneuil 2011).
The first part of the paper introduces the theoretical background, finding common
ground between discussions in the domains of participation and environmental
justice. In an attempt to operationalize Nancy Fraser’s three-dimensional parity of
participation concept, one of the theoretical foundations of contemporary environ-
mental justice, a framework for the analysis of justice-relevant governance
conditions is presented in part two. Part three of the paper briefly describes the
research methods and the studied cases and part four then analyses how justice-
relevant conditions to participation may explain the environmental effectiveness of
the cases. The last part concludes.
Linking Participation, Justice and Effectiveness in Environmental
Since the institutionalization of public participation for sustainable development by
the Rio Declaration and the Aarhus Convention, a triple shift has been observed in
dealing with participatory approaches in biodiversity and environmental governance
(Rauschmayer et al. 2009; Rowe and Frewer 2004). The first one is a gradual shift
from state-organised consultation and/or top-down inclusion of relevant stakehold-
ers, towards the emergence of stand-alone bottom-up initiatives, mostly community-
based, but sometimes taken over or supported by the state. In parallel, and partially
as a consequence of the first shift, there has been a shift towards the use of post-
normal science to deal with uncertainty and complexity. The use of post-normal
science can be understood as the extension of the peer community producing
evidence serving to inform the decision-making in circumstances where traditional
science falls short or is deemed inadequate. Finally, in the biodiversity regime, the
focus has shifted from a protection-only perspective towards a multi-dimensional
human-centered approach, such as the idea of ‘sustainable use’ and the ecosystem
services narrative (Rauschmayer et al. 2009; Engelen et al. 2007).
Together, these three shifts can be understood as a democratization of environmental
governance. Not only is there an increasing opportunity for citizens to shape
environmental solutions, the quality and sustainability of their communities become
centerpiece of environmental endeavors, and their knowledge is recognized as
potentially useful. In other words, in light of this triple shift, it can be said that
biodiversity governance is increasingly concerned with ‘people’ in their relation to
natural environments, extending beyond ecological problems alone to fully encompass
economic and social issues. Ifpeople are at thecore of contemporary biodiversity policy
then it must be more broadly linked to issues of justice, empowerment and democracy,
or, in other words, to environmental justice (Walker 2012; Schlosberg 2007; Agyeman
and Evans 2006). Environmental justice then can provide a framework to analyze
participation in environmental governance (Newell 2007, 238 cited in Sikor 2013).
Politically, the notion of environmental justice finds its origin in the late 1970s
and 1980s, through the struggles of low-income and color communities against
unequal spatial distribution of toxic contamination in the US. Through a distributive
Transformative Participation in Agrobiodiversity
focus, and in line with late-twentieth-century Anglo-American liberalism, these
movements were concerned primarily with ‘‘the manner in which benefits and
burdens should be allocated when there is a scarcity of benefits (relative to people’s
wants or needs) and a surfeit of burdens’’ (Wenz 1988). Up to this day, fair
distribution of benefits and burdens remains an important dimension for commu-
nities seeking environmental justice around the world (as illustrated, for instance, by
the EJOLT project’s ‘Environmental Justice Atlas’
However, with the evolution of normative claim-making in post-modern societies,
environmental justice has evolved beyond a distributive focus alone, to encompass a
more plural understanding. In a now authoritative attempt to merge the claims of the
environmental justice movement and the different existing theoretical frameworks,
Schlosberg (2007) depicts a tri-dimensional view of environmental justice. Alongside
the substantive approach of the distribution of environmental goods and bads,
Schlosberg adds the dimension of recognition and representation to his framework.
Among several other authors, Schlosberg explicitly draws upon Nancy Fraser’s ‘post-
Westphalian theory of democratic justice’, according to which the first meaning of
justice is ‘parity of participation’ in social interaction. Participating in society can be
impeded by a combination of economic exploitation, cultural subordination, and
political inequality. Overcoming this ‘‘requires social arrangements that permit all
(adult) members of society to interact with one another as peers’’ (Fraser 2001,6,
Rethinking participation through this three-dimensional environmental justice
framework, with its focus on socio-material empowerment and democracy, allows
shifting the focus from participation as a technical tool to participation as a justice-
relevant political process (Carr et al. 2012; Suiseeya and Caplow 2013), thereby
developing what has been termed a ‘‘post-participation approach’’ (Reed 2008,
2418). It also allows borrowing from contemporary thinking on transformative
participation in the development literature, in particular from the concept of
‘participatory citizenship’. A radicalized notion of citizenship, it is invoked as
‘rights-based’ approach to participation (Hickey and Mohan 2004).
Doing this also posits the ‘‘right to participate [as] a prior right, necessary for
making other rights real’’ (Gaventa 2004, 29). This is important with regard to
existing approaches to environmental justice. Traditionally conceived as the
consequence of a decision-making process (i.e. ex-post), environmental justice here
is used as an ex-ante framework: the justice-relevant governance arrangements
described below are seen as enabling conditions to (parity of) participation, rather
than a result of it (Young 1990).
Operationalizing Parity of Participation in a Farming Context
According to Fraser, parity of participation is conditioned by three interacting
dimensions: an economic dimension, a cultural dimension and a political dimension.
Each of these dimensions is discussed below in the context of food and agriculture.
For more information see
B. Coolsaet
The economic dimension is straightforward: participation does not just happen, it
requires financial and human resources. These resources may not be equally
accessible to participants, especially in times of exacerbating economic inequality
(Piketty 2014), conditioning their ability for social interaction. In other words,
parity of participation is inhibited when certain actors do not possess the necessary
material resources to play their role in society (Fraser 2000,1992). The level of
access to resources thus conditions social interaction: ‘‘subordinated social groups
usually lack equal access to the material means of equal participation’’ (Fraser 1992,
120). Fraser’s economic dimension links up with the concept of distributive justice:
overcoming disparities in the access of participants to the resources for participation
(money, people, land, ) requires a (re)distribution of available resources.
However, as stated above, the distribution of resources is not analyzed as a
consequence of a decision-making process, but as a condition to the effectiveness of
its outcome. Examples of economic injustices can include exploitation (‘‘having the
fruits of one’s labor appropriated for the benefit of others’’); marginalization
(‘‘being confined to undesirable or poorly paid work or being denied access to
income-generating labor altogether’’) and deprivation (‘‘being denied an adequate
material standard of living’’) (Fraser and Honneth 2003, 13).
The economic dimension is important in an agricultural context. In Europe, farms
are disappearing at an alarming rate (Eurostat 2015), mostly for economic reasons,
opportunities for prospective farmers to start their own activity are rare if land and
property is not inherited, and price wars in the retail sector happen at the expense of
the farmers’ share of the profit, as illustrated by yet another ‘milk crisis’ in 2015.
These issues keep farmers from participating on equal footing with one-another. In
this context, Fraser’s economic redistribution is operationalized as the material
conditions facilitating participation of farmers, including measures fighting
economic exploitation, marginalization and deprivation such as, for instance,
fair(er) pricing, financial support, human resources, and access to land.
Closely related to the economic dimension is the cultural dimension. According
to Fraser, an equitable participation requires the recognition of social and cultural
differences of the participants. Indeed, participation can be inhibited by the
institutionalization, in law or in practice, of socio-cultural hierarchy. Representa-
tives of the institutionalized cultural norm then have much more possibilities to
participate in society. In an agricultural context, misrecognition is characterized by
the subordination of alternative forms of agriculture to conventional high-input
solutions, which represent the agricultural norm in Western societies. As Altieri and
Nicholls (2012) note, no matter how much evidence of the effectiveness of
agroecology is produced, it is still considered a marginal form of agriculture, and
thus replaced by conventional solutions via political decision-making.
While this could be explained by the economic power the agro-industry has over
democratic decision-making, looking at agriculture through a justice-as-recognition
lens sheds another light. The sustained importance of high-input agriculture, despite
overwhelming evidence of disastrous social and environmental impact, may also be
explained by the fact that the industry, the world vision it represents, and the
knowledge it uses are recognized as the Western agricultural narrative. Misrecog-
nition, hence, translates in policies and law which disadvantage alternative farmers
Transformative Participation in Agrobiodiversity
from participating, such as seed policy outlawing the use of traditional and farmer
varieties (Bocci and Chable 2009), unequal access to research opportunities
(Vanloqueren and Baret 2009), certification systems favoring business-as-usual
approaches, etc.
Moreover, the analysis of the role of cultural recognition must also take into
account the different ontological and epistemological perspectives of the partici-
pants. In today’s knowledge society, hierarchization of socio-cultural value is
largely influenced by our knowledge systems. Not only can it be considered unjust,
it also creates dependence on one dominant knowledge system (e.g. industrial
farming). Ontological and epistemological recognition would allow for alternative
practices to grow their cultural status and become viable solutions. This is why
recognition should also be approached through a form of cross-cultural cognitive
justice. Cognitive justice encompasses not only the right of different knowledge
forms to co-exist, but entails an active engagement across them (Visvanathan 2005).
Recognition in the farming world hence should be achieved through measures
promoting both status equality between different forms of doing farming and a
‘critical plurality’ of knowledges (Schlosberg 1999), valorizing and engaging with
different ways of knowing farming. In practice this equates to governance processes
aiming for an ‘‘affirmative recognition of difference’’ (Fraser 2000) through the
legal recognition of alternative farming practices, the strengthening of farmers’
identities, and the pluralization of knowledge systems.
Finally, the third dimension of participation is political, in the sense of
membership and decision-making procedures. What Fraser calls ‘representation’
tells us ‘‘who is included, and who excluded, from the circle of those entitled to a
just distribution and reciprocal recognition’’ (Fraser 2005, 6). First, it deals with
decision-making rules and its consequences for the ability of actors to participate:
inadequate decision-making rules might misrepresent certain people. Second,
participation depends on the way in which the boundaries of participation are
established (i.e. ‘the politics of framing’; Fraser 2005, 11): who’s authorized to
deliberate and negotiate in the decision-making? The ‘who’ of participation is based
on a ‘subjected principle’ which requires ‘‘all those who are subject to a given
governance structure have moral standing as subjects of justice in relation to it’’
(Fraser 2009, 65). Third, just representation is contingent upon the level of
democratization of the decision-making process. Not only must participants be
allowed to participate though the setting of inclusive boundaries, they must also be
empowered to help set those boundaries themselves (Fraser 2009).
Methodology and Cases
While this sets the normative framework of participation, it does not itself say much
about the practical benefits of such a rights-based approach. The next section hence
analyses how justice-relevant conditions of participation in two different cases have
contributed to the improvement of agrobiodiversity. To do so, this paper compares
the cases using Mill’s method of agreement. Although the two cases are very
different—the first one is a pig-breeders association in southwestern Germany,
B. Coolsaet
while the second one is seed exchange network in southwestern France; they thus
have different production systems, different farming practices, and produce
different agricultural goods—they share the same outcome, i.e. an improvement
of their agrobiodiversity. Through a least-similar case comparison, justice-relevant
conditions shared by both cases are identified, which explain why, despite a
contrasting configuration, these cases both have an effective outcome. However, as
noted before, many different conditions may lead to the effectiveness of
environmental governance processes; a situation of ‘‘plurality of causes’’ as Mill
puts it (cited in Bennett 2004, 32). Making use of the literature on effectiveness and
environmental governance, the case comparison is combined with process tracing,
allowing controlling ‘‘whether the intervening variables between a hypothesized
cause and observed effect move as predicted by the theories under investigation’
(Bennett 2004, 22).
It is important to stress that this does not equate to a strictly defined normative
positioning on participation: I do not define what justice is, claim that there is or
could be a specific form of just participation, nor that it will automatically yield
instrumental benefits. As Sikor (2013, 14) notes, governance conditions, referring to
economic, cultural and political dimensions, ‘‘are not simply either just or unjust’
(even though they can influence the ‘‘the emergence of justices and injustices in the
practice of environmental management’’). Instead, I assume that ‘‘the way rights are
claimed in different contexts is a key determinant of a positive outcome’’ (Gaventa
and Barrett 2010, 16–17) and try to echo a process of ‘framemaking’ social
movement undertake to legitimate collective action or participatory processes.
Framemaking is a notion that acknowledges the inherent plural and reflexive nature
of justice-relevant claim-making (Walker 2012) and generally involves both
normative and instrumental aspects (Benford and Snow 2000). Here, I am using a
normative rationale as an analytical framework to identify justice-relevant
conditions which have contributed to environmental effectiveness. In doing so, I
deliberately avoid the debate on whether normative and instrumental rationales to
participation are indeed commensurable or not (Wesselink et al. 2011).
Data was collected through a combination of interviews and direct observation
(for the case comparison), primary and secondary sources (for process tracing). Six
in-depth open-ended interviews with key members of both associations and direct
observation took place in December 2013, January 2014 and September 2015.
Questions were organized around the three justice-relevant dimensions of the above
research framework. In other words, questionnaires focused on how justice-relevant
governance conditions to participation such as resource availability, power
relations, knowledge plurality or decision-making methods impacted ecological
conditions. Primary sources were mainly organizational documents such as annual
reports, members’ magazines and internal communications, and policy documents.
The first case is a pig-breeders association in Schwa
¨bisch Hall, a small town,
capital of the eponymous district, in the state of Baden-Wu
¨rttemberg, southwestern
Germany. The location is home to the Swabian-Hall swine (Schwa¨bisch-Ha¨llische
Landschwein), a local pig breed stemming from a crossbreed between the Chinese
Meishan pig, imported by King William I of Wu
¨rttemberg in 1821, and a German
landrace. The locally adapted landrace gained enormous popularity in the 19th and
Transformative Participation in Agrobiodiversity
first half of the twentieth century, with a market-share of over 90 % by 1959.
Despite its popularity, the swine almost disappeared 25 years later, with the
introduction of fast-growing Dutch ‘high-performance’ breeds, suitable for mass
production and with low fat content. Livestock declined sharply, and by 1984 the
Swabian-Hall swine was considered to be extinct Thaller and Bu
¨hler (2010).
The critical condition of the race led a small group of farmers to launch a
conservation campaign to save the Swabian-Hall swine. In the 1980s, they created
the Schwa
¨bisch Hall Producers’ Community (Ba¨uerlichen Erzeugergemeinschaft
Schwa¨bisch Hall, or BESH) and a Breeders’ Community (Zu¨chtervereinigung
Schwa¨bisch Ha¨llisches Schwein), defending a ‘‘holistic approach to rural develop-
In such an approach, the environmental goal (i.e. rebuilding the genetic
population of local pig-breeds) goes hand in hand with the socio-cultural, economic
and political objectives (raising farmers’ status, living conditions and representation
by making them independent from conventional breeds and industrial circuits).
The second case is a seed exchange network hosted by AgroBio Perigord (ABP),
an association for the development of organic farming in the French region of
Aquitaine. In 2001, following contamination of their crops by GM seeds, and
worried about the disappearance of local plant varieties, the association launched a
program called ‘Aquitaine grows biodiversity’ (l’Aquitaine cultive la Biodiversite´).
It aims to experiment with and reintroduce community-owned peasant varieties of a
diverse set of crops such as corn, sunflower, soybean and grape vine. In 2003,
following increasingly restrictive seed policies, ABP joined the national Peasant
Seed Network (Re´seau Semences Paysanne), which now counts over 60 members
Both cases are examples of environmental effectiveness in terms of agrobiodi-
versity. BESH’s main achievement, of course, is re-building the local landrace
population from what was once considered an extinct breed. Although the swine is
still considered to be in danger, the community counts over 1400 farmers breeding
the Swabian-Hall swine and the network was broadened with local cattle and
poultry breeders. In the same vein, and while initially experimenting with only a
few peasant varieties, AgroBio Perigord successfully re-introduced or re-created
over a 100 local crop varieties, which are being grown by 300 farmers.
Findings: Linking Justice-Relevant Conditions and Effectiveness
Economic Distribution
The distribution of material means conditions the effectiveness of a decision-
making process: participatory governance is unlikely to produce effective results
when some participants are able to dominate others in terms of resources, be they
human, financial or structural (Fung and Wright 2003), or when farmers are being
exploited or economically marginalized. Despite its importance for empowering
Author’s interview with a staff member of the BESH, 28 February 2014.
B. Coolsaet
participants, the availability of these material resources is often overlooked when
studying stakeholder participation in environmental governance.
In Swabish Hall, a community-based pricing system is being used: both meat
prices and production amounts are fixed communally in advance, and the
association guarantees buying of the production amounts set communally in
advance. But production costs of the Swabian-Hall swine are approximately 12 %
higher than for ‘high performance’ breeds (Leipprand et al. 2006). While this could
have been a genuine economic burden for the breeders, or a disincentive for
prospective breeders, farmers redistribute part of the network’s profits as financial
support: BESH breeders get a 0.33 euro supplement per kg of carcass on top of the
market price, if the quality of the meat meets the community’s quality standards.
These measures guarantee a stable income and a fair share of the profits, while
allowing for stability in the production process, which permits greater attention to
environmental issues, to animal welfare and to the quality of the meat.
Moreover, the French case shows that the economic dimension goes beyond these
rather obvious financial and human aspects. The distribution of other, more
structural, types of resources, such as land, can also prove crucial for the
effectiveness of the outcome of the processes. ABP set-up a ‘regional experimen-
tation platform’ (plateforme re´gionale d’expe´rimentation), a unique communally-
owned test-field on which crops and breeding techniques can be observed, tested,
and multiplied before being used in members’ fields. Moreover, through the
association, each farmer makes available a plot of land for open-field and
environment-specific testing. Once tested, farmers multiply and return two-thirds of
the initial amounts of seed to the community seed bank. This form of land
redistribution is a core characteristic of the participatory governance project which
directly contributes to the improvement of agrobiodiversity. In participatory plant
breeding approaches, such as in the French case, the participation of land-owning
farmers is a necessary condition to allow for the development of environment-
specific breeding techniques (Sperling et al. 2001). Landownership provides for
representative sites for on-farm testing, with the objective of attaining higher
environmental quality (Pautasso et al. 2013) or for the reintroduction of threatened
varieties. The regional experimentation platform of ABP, for instance, makes
possible the multiplication of varieties which would not be grown in open fields due
to low yield potential, but possess other interesting characteristics (gustatory,
nutritional, precocity, etc.). In other cases, access to land may also be a matter of
scope: if certain landowners are excluded, the area of activities to which
biodiversity measures apply may be incomplete, and therefore, in- or less effective
(Brody 2008).
Finally, both associations employ permanent staff which supports the farmers in
tasks as diverse as commercialization, product marketing, logistics support, internal
communication, research subsidies, and recreation. Such immaterial support, by a
leading organization or agency, has also been found to relate to success (Beierle and
Konisky 2000).
Transformative Participation in Agrobiodiversity
Cultural Recognition
Economic dimensions alone cannot fully explain why farmers participate in
initiatives for environmental conservation (Popa 2015). The socio-cultural dimen-
sion too is key to understanding the improvement of agrobiodiversity from a justice-
perspective. Both the cases include different measures aiming to improve the
recognition of their members. This is also reflected in the interviews: when asked
about the main motivations for farmers to join the associations, all interviewees
mentioned improved recognition (of their identity and/or their knowledge) as a key
A first obvious necessary condition to participation is legal recognition. Their is a
need to create a legal space in which alternative farming practices, often based on
improved agrobiodiversity, can exist. Both cases faced a similar challenge following
their establishment: the monopoly of the state for organizing breeding. While the
BESH is now an official breeding organization, it took the association 13 years to
obtain legal recognition for its breeding activities. The situation for ABP is more
complicated, as the activities of the association have gradually been restricted over
time. Moreover, since 2011, a new plant breeders’ right was adopted by French
parliament, strongly limiting the possibility for farmers to re-grow their seeds.
However, as the use of peasant seed varieties is currently unregulated under French
law, they are considered ‘phytogenetic resources’, which can be grown for
experimental purposes, a situation used by ABP to support the activities of its
Legal recognition, however, may not be enough in a context characterized by
strong vested interests. The farmers’ role in shaping farming practices and systems,
and their specific identities may also require proper recognition. Recognition
translates in the belief that the (re-)integration of diverse and decentralized
knowledge systems (particularly farmer-driven knowledge) is a necessary pre-
condition to depart from high-input breeding. Indeed, the dependence on external
input can be explained by a process of deskilling of the rural workforce
(Timmermann and Felix 2015; Stone 2007; van der Ploeg 1993), and of
centralization of knowledge.
Both cases show an increasing willingness to establish collaborative learning
spaces across disciplines and borders. The BESH, for instance, teamed up with
German universities to launch a joint project under the EU Horizon 2020 research
program, studying connections between traditional feed (e.g. grass) and improved
meat quality. It also invited local environmental NGOs to co-define internal
breeding guidelines and production standards. In France, ABP has been organizing
participatory research programs, focusing on environment-specific in situ breeding,
led by farmers but supported by external experts. Moreover, there is an increasing
tendency to ‘‘learn from the South’’ (Stringer et al. 2008). In both our cases,
experience with Brazilian and Mexican farmers’ associations, respectively,
explicitly inspired their governance systems, and collaborative international
networks have been established with farmers’ associations of the Global South.
The confrontation between different worldviews can lead to a form of collective
or social learning process, which Kendrick (2003) called the ‘‘emerging dialectic of
B. Coolsaet
conceptual diversity’’. This ‘‘negotiated knowledge’’, based on the constant input of
formal and non-formal knowledge, allows for the generation of a ‘‘common view
regarding problems, solutions, and ecological status’’ (Sandstro
¨m2011, 296). Not
only does this allow for different knowledge systems to co-exist, it also has shown
to improve the outcome of environmental governance projects in the past. Corburn’s
(2003) example shows how the inclusion of local knowledge through community
participation has pushed the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to rethink
the epistemological foundations for its assessment of the community’s air toxic
exposures in New York. This has led to an important increase of the amount of data
sources being used for the assessment, a solution which may be more environment-
specific and thus provide a better outcome (Witcombe et al. 1996).
Measures aiming to improve legal recognition, and the valorization of their
knowledge and identity, hence cover a dual reality of participation and effective-
ness. On the one hand, the de jure or de facto subordination of alternative forms of
agriculture to conventional approaches marginalizes alternative farmers, inhibiting
their capacity to use alternatives practices based on a broader diversity of crops and
lifestock. On the other, misrecognition of certain worldviews and knowledge
systems may lead to an over-simplification of potential solutions and, hence, an
ineffective outcome. In other words, ‘‘what counts as legitimate knowledge, and
how it is generated, influences its practical effectiveness’’ (Turnhout et al. 2012,
Political Representation
In both our cases, decision-making is strongly decentralized. Although bound by
shared production standards, farmers retain full autonomy on their farms, not only in
terms of practices, but also in the choice of varieties/landraces and in terms of
production amounts. This relational autonomy finds its roots in a vision of the farm
as ‘‘autonomous organism’’, where external input must be restricted to a minimum
(Demeulenaere and Bonneuil 2011) and replaced by the ‘‘endogenous potential of
agriculture’’ (Guzma
´n and Martinez-Alier 2006) based on a rich agrobiodiversity.
This also extends to the commercialization: at the BESH, farmers can sell their meat
through the network or directly on their farms. In both the cases, beyond minimal
amounts needed for multiplication, farmers are not imposed production amounts by
their respective associations.
While decision-making is decentralized, the boundaries of participation are more
tightly organized. Farmers in both France and Germany function within an
deliberately limited geographical space. In Germany, for instance, joining the
association is only possible for breeders located in the traditional breeding area of
the Swabian-Hall swine. Moreover, only the BESH can sell and market the meat: no
other distributors are allowed in the supply chain. In France, where due to its
novelty ABP initially expanded nation-wide, the association is now refocusing on
local farmers, as ‘‘working with farmers all over the country makes follow-up very
These geographical boundaries do not preclude close collaboration with
Author’s interview with a staff member of ABP, 11 December 2013.
Transformative Participation in Agrobiodiversity
other similar initiatives throughout the country, on the contrary. What this
geographic proximity does, however, is improve the associations’ level of closure.
Borrowing from network analysis and social capital theory, closure represents the
level of cohesiveness, which strengthens the social relationship between participants
and allows for the development of a shared identity and common narrative. For
¨m(2011), well-connected governance structures are likely to facilitate
internal communication and deliberation, which have been identified as defining
conditions to the success of a participatory process (Beierle and Konisky 2000).
Moreover, the explicit framing of the political community in our cases, empowers
participants to see themselves as agents of change, recognized by the community as
key stakeholders of rural development, increasingly aware of ‘‘the rights to have
rights’’ (Gaventa and Barrett 2010) and part of a greater goal of redefining farming
However, mere inclusion of a range of participants may not by itself lead to
higher outcome quality. The presence of specific representative profiles within the
group of participants may also influence the quality of the outcome (Sperling et al.
2001). As such, Brody (2008) found that the participation of specific participants (in
his case, resource-based industry groups) had a strong positive effect on the quality
of ecosystem planning in Florida. The same is true for our two cases, where specific
participants have been included in the process in order to improve farming practices
or to redefine supply and demand. In both cases, facilitators, agricultural engineers,
environmental NGOs, seed bank managers, and academic researchers are partic-
ipating in the associations’ activities. While farmers keep their autonomy and define
their own farming practices, the inclusion of external participant is based on the
awareness that ‘‘the lack of skilled practitioners able to facilitate participatory
processes is a major limiting factor to sustainable development’’ (Tippet et al. 2007,
24). This facilitation can take the form of ‘knowledge brokering’ to allow for
scientifically valid decision-making, thereby avoiding was has been called
‘negotiated nonsense’’ (Koppenjan and Klijn 2004). It helps prevent ineffective
spatial or temporal trade-offs and avoid a race to the bottom created by the
pluralization of epistemological perspectives discussed above.
The inclusion of end-user and transformers moreover allows to directly promote
and encourage the use of non-conventional varieties. In France, local cooks are
encouraged to introduce local varieties on their menus, a cookbook is being written
using local varieties, and partnership with local livestock farmers allows getting
nutritionally richer local varieties on the market as animal feed. In Germany, the
BESH teamed up with surrounding communities and local authorities to collectively
run a local slaughterhouse and a network of butcher-shops, which exclusively
supply BESH’s meat. It allowed the broader community to gain control over the
whole value-chain, from farm to fork, and redefine the conditions of market access.
In doing so, it not only has created a direct relationship between producers and
consumers, it has empowered both these groups to jointly reshape breeding
activities throughout the region, based on sustainable traditional breeding
techniques, and to shift the regional agri-food system from an industrial farm-
level only approach to a broad transformative rural development process.
B. Coolsaet
This paper has argued that, in order to promote participation in environmental
governance, the concept has to be rethought. Not only methodologically, by
focusing on the conditions through which improved outcomes occur, but also
politically, by adopting a post-participation approach that repoliticizes the study and
practice of participation. It is argued that environmental justice, consisting of both
political theories and empirical realities, can serve as an analytical framework,
which, when put in relation with empirical data on participation and outcome-
effectiveness in environmental governance, can be used to identify the determinants
of a positive outcome. This practical approach to environmental justice allows
studying participation from a rights-based perspective, searching for common
ground between the empowerment of participants and environmental effectiveness.
The empirical usefulness of this approach was illustrated through the comparison
of two successful agrobiodiversity initiatives, in France and in Germany. Both cases
use a participatory governance approach to conserve agrobiodiversity. While being
very different, similar types of justice-relevant conditions to participation are
observed in both initiatives, which help explain their success. Providing economic
and material support for participation, improving the socio-cultural recognition of
farmers and their knowledge, and establishing very inclusive representation systems
seem to directly affect the achievement of the stated objectives, i.e. conserving
Combining these three dimensions reinvents the role and the position of farmers,
and their relation with consumers, beyond the sole production of commodities.
Producers (and consumers) are made direct stakeholder of a much larger rural
development process, which denounces both the specialistic and technicist
conceptions of conventional agriculture and its impact on agrobiodiversity. The
governance processes in our cases depart from the common approaches of
participation in which farmers are given agency and/or voice within existing
structures, and involve a genuine engagement with power and politics to bring about
socio-ecological transition. The justice-relevant conditions for participation gener-
ate ‘‘institutional and structural transformation required to create this form of
political space’’ (Hickey and Mohan 2004).
What our cases show is a shift from farming as a production-only activity to
farming as a holistic rural development process focusing on justice and citizenship.
Organized collectively, farmers communities redistribute available resources such
as income and land, reclaim control over the production-chain, regain autonomy
from externally produced inputs, recreate a shared identity, reacquire local and
traditional knowledge, rebuild bargaining power and social capital, and empower
autonomous farmers; all of which have allowed reintroducing and regrowing local
land-races and traditional varieties which where once considered to be extinct.
Acknowledgments I am grateful to Adrian Martin, Tom Dedeurwaerdere and the anonymous reviewers
for their comments and suggestions on earlier drafts of this article. I acknowledge funding from the
European Commission, under the FP7 project GENCOMMONS (European Research Council, grant
agreement 284).
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... The old German country pig breed "Swabian-Hall swine" was created in 1820 by crossing the native pig breed "German Landrace" with the Chinese "Meishan" pig with the idea of increasing the fat content of the meat. In the 1950s, there was a high demand for Swabian-Hall swine due to the very good feed conversion and the exceptional fertility of the animals as well as the excellent tasting meat, which is due to the high proportion of fat as a flavor carrier [1,2]. At that time, the pig population in the northern Württemberg (region of the German state Baden-Württemberg) consisted of 90% Swabian-Hall pigs. ...
... The Farmer Producer Association of Swabian Hall, founded in 1988, offers pork that is produced according to binding producer guidelines and that exceed normal requirements. Many consumers ask for meat from animal-friendly husbandry, peasant agriculture, and a regional value chain [1]. The founding motive and core element of the above mentioned producer association is the preservation of the endangered, traditional Swabian-Hall swine pig breed. ...
... Thus, the lipid fraction of non-SHQ samples is richer in unsaturated fatty acids such as PUFA and the proportion of phospholipids in relation to total fat content is higher. In addition, in the literature, SHQ pork has been described as being particularly rich in fat [1,3,4]. ...
Full-text available
H NMR spectroscopy was applied to analyse samples of “Swabian–Hall Quality Pork” with protected geographical indication (PGI). To obtain maximum chemical information sample preparation was based on both polar extraction and non-polar extraction. A non-targeted approach was used to analyse the ¹H NMR data followed by principal component analysis (PCA), linear discriminant analysis (LDA), and cross-validation (CV) embedded in a Monte Carlo (MC) resampling approach. A total of 275 raw pork samples were collected in the years 2018 to 2021. The correct prediction rate of “Swabian–Hall Quality Pork” was about 92% on average for both models based on either the polar or non-polar metabolites. In addition, ¹H NMR data describing the polar and non-polar metabolites were combined in a classification model to improve the prediction accuracy. By performing a mid-level data fusion, a correct prediction rate of 98% was achieved. Furthermore, spectral regions in the NMR spectra of the polar and non-polar metabolites that are relevant for the classification of the pork samples were identified to describe potential chemical marker compounds.
... How conservation can increase economic deprivation (Adams and Hutton, 2007) and impose alien ways of thinking on local populations (West and Brockington, 2006) has been well established by earlier critical social science research. More recently, scholars have adopted an explicit justice lens to empirically analyse such challenges in conservation (Garmendia and Pascual, 2013;He and Sikor, 2015;Martin, 2017) andto a more limited extentagriculture (Coolsaet, 2015(Coolsaet, , 2016. While critical political ecology has long since shown how environmental conflicts can occur between diverging conceptions of the just use of space (Harvey, 1996), political philosophy now tries to offer normatively saturated arguments for the just use of environmental space and resources (Armstrong, 2017). ...
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The Half Earth (HE) and Sharing the Planet (SP) scenario narratives are two distinctly different scenarios on how to restore and conserve biodiversity while accounting for the need for agricultural production. Yet, the equity implications of both scenarios are not clear. We conducted a questionnaire to better understand what experts with various backgrounds perceive as the main equity implications of these scenarios. We find that, overall, distributive, recognitional, and procedural equity barriers are perceived as higher in the HE scenario, as is the possibility of reaching equity. Especially people depending on local biodiversity to sustain their livelihoods are perceived to face challenges due to inequities. Although equity risks are perceived to be lower in the SP scenario, the measures needed to achieve this scenario are seen as hard to implement, since existing economic and political power structures need to change. Some respondents perceive the SP scenario as anthropocentric, and therefore not equitable to non-humans. The equity perceptions are linked to the respondents' attitudes to nature, their professional focus, and their view on equity in nature conservation and agriculture discussions and agreements today. These results indicate that it is important to recognise the different equity implications of the different scenarios and the challenge to provide equity implications for such scenarios. Explicitly recognising different equity understandings in scenario development and science-policy interfaces could lead to more inclusive policies.
... It is important to recognize that actors who engage in agroecological practices are subject to risks of failure to achieve expected gains. Raising awareness among actors of the uncertainties, expected gains and losses associated with changes in agricultural practices is a key dimension of transdisciplinary research (Coolsaet, 2015). ...
The evidence that most agricultural landscapes are failing to deliver on biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services provision suggests that future landscapes will need to be more explicitly designed. Although recent research has produced a number of ecological and social principles that should form the basis of agricultural landscape design process, implementation is still in its infancy. One difficulty is the context-dependency of ecological responses and the resulting limiting capacity to predict the benefits of landscape transformation for the targeted organisms or services. In addition, there is a poor understanding of the obstacles to and levers for the implementation of collective management at the landscape scale. In this paper, we argue that Landscape Monitoring Networks (LMN), i.e. long-term and standardized monitoring of ecological and managerial processes within a set of replicated regional landscapes, can contribute to tackling these issues. We first present the current challenges in designing agroecological landscapes before outlining the principles of LMN and how these research facilities could help deliver ecological and social understanding along a gradient from place-based to generic knowledge. We then discuss critical issues that need to be solved to ensure that LMN delivers relevant knowledge for landscape design. We illustrate this through the experience of an ongoing LMN that was created in France in 2014 to address biodiversity and pest control services in agricultural landscapes.
... Furthermore, active stakeholder participation is promoted as a new methodological paradigm within the debate on agrobiodiversity and socio-ecological transformation. Indeed, it gives support to both transdisciplinary research and the co-production of agroecological knowledge [28,40,[94][95][96][97][98]. Specifically, the dialogue between theoretical and local practical understandings can strengthen endogenous potential and combine scientific production [99][100][101] with applicable solutions to the problems identified in the analyzed agri-food systems. ...
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The international and European literature and institutional contexts are fostering agrobiodiversity as the foundation of a new paradigm for localized agri-food system development and sustainability. Accordingly, new systemic and holistic theoretical approaches and conceptual models are needed. This paper aims to identify and apply a new conceptual framework contributing to the understanding of how the restoring and valorization of underutilized or neglected landraces can act as a trigger for sustainable territorial development. A new holistic model was designed for the characterization and analysis of agrobiodiversity-oriented food systems. We consider the model innovative in enhancing the conceptualization of the adoption of a socio-ecological systems approach. We applied the model to a representative case study involving the localized agri-food system of the Valtiberina Red Onion, a threatened plant landrace cultivated in Tuscany, Italy. A participatory action–research approach was followed, involving both public and private stakeholders. As the main outcome of the paper, we demonstrated the capability of our new SES model by identifying and describing the assets, drivers, human action processes and generated beneficial effects concerning the development and reproduction of landrace-based quality valorization virtuous circles. Our research findings highlighted the model as an innovative tool for the analysis of agrobiodiversity-oriented food systems sustainability. Significantly, the model was designed to identify the combined role of public policy and private action in supporting the implementation of coherent management mechanisms and effective governance settings.
... 23 Recognitional justice ensures individuals' and communities' claims for participation in decision making affecting them are acknowledged and enacted. 24 Recognition of one's culture, identity, and place in society underlies one's ability to participate as a full member of society, and thus, misrecognition hinders both procedural and distributional justice. EJ researchers are demonstrating how the lens of recognition can introduce specific knowledge related to a community's culture, history, or economic situation, which may be left out of risk analysis, a technical scientific process to identify acceptable amounts, toxicity, and exposure potential for a chemical. ...
... Agricultural systems and farmers are diverse and may refer from agribusinesses to small-scale farmers with varied socio-economic status and often diverging values, interests, alliances, and power (Coolsaet, 2015;Hervieu and Puseigle, 2013; Box 1). Many farmers, particularly those managing small and medium-scale farms and indigenous land users, face challenges related to competition for and appropriation of land and water resources by other actors/sectors, market forces, and external factors such as climate change and disease (Caron et al., 2018). ...
... More generally, it is important to acknowledge that actors engaging in agroecological practices usually suffer extra costs due to switching to and implementing novel practices and will also be subject to risks of failure in reaching the expected gains. Making stakeholders aware of the expected gain and loss related to changes in farming practices is a key dimension in transdisciplinary research (Coolsaet, 2015). Failure to do so may create or increase environmental justice issues . ...
... This governance option is at risk as centralized management limits farmers' capacity to rapidly respond to social and ecological transformations and to cope with uncertainty (Armitage et al. 2009). New management and governance options should thus be developed to support biodiversitybased agriculture that would rely on collaboration between the different stakeholders involved, grounded on local farmer networks (Coolsaet 2015). However, in order to have more impact on public policies, farmers also need to be more connected with stakeholders across institutional levels. ...
Biodiversity-based agriculture is the main form of agriculture practiced by smallholder farmers, who produce half the world’s food, especially in the Global South. This form of agriculture relies on planned biodiversity intentionally managed by farmers and on the associated biodiversity that spontaneously colonizes the agroecosystem. In recent decades, there have been increasing calls from researchers and society to support biodiversity-based agriculture as an alternative paradigm to today’s industrial agriculture. Building adapted governance and management systems for enhancing farmers’ access to agrobiodiversity is a key challenge for the development of biodiversity-based agriculture. To achieve this, a better understanding of how farmer’s access agrobiodiversity is needed, and in particular, how this access is affected by interactions between farmers and with institutions, i.e., social networks. In this article, we first review the literature on the role of social networks in farmers’ access to agrobiodiversity, in the form of crop diversity and associated biodiversity, and the related knowledge to manage this diversity. This review points at a major knowledge gap concerning how the composition and structure of these networks affect farmers’ access to agrobiodiversity. Then, we review literature on social-ecological networks to identify how this framework developed for environmental management could contribute in getting a better understanding of the role of social networks’ structure and composition in farmers’ access to agrobiodiversity. Based on this review, we propose a social-ecological network framework dedicated to crop diversity. Finally, we present potential applications of this framework to develop new participatory approaches for agrobiodiversity management and governance, adapted to biodiversity-based agriculture.
Encouraged to design a more agroecological livestock system, farmers today must develop new practices to address herd health management. They must do this on their farms, alongside other farmers, but also with the support of various livestock professionals, such as veterinarians and agricultural advisers, each with their own skills and knowledge. This article analyses how these farmers enlist the aid of different professionals in their quest for a more agroecological approach to herd health management. Drawing on a conceptual framework, based on the prescription relationship concept, we refer to all the professionals involved as a “prescription system”. The qualitative analysis of the 26 interviews conducted with French dairy farmers involved in an agroecological approach reveals five types of prescription systems: (i) one structured around the farm work collective and a few trusted prescribers; (ii) one organised around farmers seeking prescribers and concrete solutions; (iii) one extended around an autonomous operator; (iv) one oriented towards prescribers capable of promoting transition by encouraging discussions around health; (v) one designed to promote precise and technical herd health management. The question, then, is how do these different systems provide farmers with learning opportunities in their quest for agroecological approaches to health management? The extent to which these systems influence farmers’ representations of health management, and the manner in which the latter’s perceptions of health help to shape these systems, therefore appears to be worth exploring.
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Farmer participatory approaches for the identification or breeding of improved crop cultivars can be usefully categorized into participatory varietal selection (PVS) and participatory plant breeding (PPB). Various PVS and PPB methods are reviewed. PVS is a more rapid and cost-effective way of identifying farmer-preferred cultivars if a suitable choice of cultivars exists. If this is impossible, then the more resource-consuming PPB is required. PPB can use, as parents, cultivars that were identified in successful PVS programmes. Compared with conventional plant breeding, PPB is more likely to produce farmer-acceptable products, particularly for marginal environments. The impact of farmer participatory research on biodiversity is considered. The long-term effect of PVS is to increase biodiversity, but where indigenous variability is high it can also reduce it. PPB has a greater effect on increasing biodiversity although its impact may be limited to smaller areas. PPB can be a dynamic form of in situ genetic conservation.
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Traduction en japonais par Fumiaki Suda d'un particle paru en 2011 dans Techniques & Culture, vol. 57, p. 201-221. Cet article se penche sur une dynamique portée par des producteurs en France, qui cherchent à réhabiliter la sélection à la ferme à partir de variétés anciennes. Notre travail vise à analyser les éléments qui soudent la communauté de pratiques constituée autour des dénommées « semences paysannes ».Dans un premier temps, nous rendons compte des ressorts matériels et idéels qui poussent des producteurs de blé à se lancer dans la recherche de variétés anciennes et dans le réapprentissage de techniques de sélection. Pour ces agriculteurs alternatifs cultivant le plus souvent sous le label Agriculture Biologique, les variétés anciennes offrent d’abord des possibilités techniques (une meilleure adaptation à leurs conditions de production). Elles représentent aussi un levier politique (reconquérir une autonomie par rapport à l’industrie semencière) et un positionnement ontologique (construire une relation de compagnonnage avec les plantes). À partir de la création du Réseau Semences Paysannes en 2003, qui met en relation ces personnes jusqu’alors isolées, les semences deviennent aussi les vecteurs d’un réseau de sociabilités privilégiées.De l’étude du réseau de circulation des semences ressort un fort rejet de la centralisation de l’activité de sélection : « la semence, ça regarde tout le monde ». Dans le même temps, l’économie morale des échanges de semences révèle que tout le monde ne peut pas rentrer dans ce collectif : les nouveaux entrants sont sélectionnés sur leur capacité à se mettre à l’écoute de ces variétés, dans un renversement des épreuves où l’humain est testé par la plante, et non pas l’inverse.En tant qu’objet qui circule et évolue de ferme en ferme, les semences constituent un objet intermédiaire, qui à la fois coordonne l’action collective et incarne les résultats de cette action. Parce qu’elles portent l’empreinte de ceux qui les ont travaillées, ces semences contribuent à resserrer le réseau, en l’inscrivant dans un tissu sans couture mêlant intimement les histoires des hommes et des blés. La pratique commune de la sélection à la ferme, matérialisée par la circulation physique des semences paysannes, constitue un acte performatif par lequel ces producteurs éprouvent le sentiment d’appartenir à un monde « paysan » construit en rupture avec la figure moderne de l’exploitant agricole.
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As public and private sector organizations work more frequently in partnership, managing uncertainties, problems and controversies becomes increasingly difficult. Despite sophisticated technology and knowledge, the strategic networks and games required to solve uncertainties becomes more complex and more important than ever before. This unique text examines such developments in the area of network strategy. Differentiating itself from other policy network approaches which mainly have a research focus, this text has a managerial orientation, presenting strategies and management recommendations for public and private sector organizations as well as the analytical tools required by practitioners seeking to support their own internal decision-making and strategy formulation. Tapping into the important and ever-growing area of risk and uncertainty management, this is a vital and long awaited staple for the arena, written by two leading authors in the field, and is key reading for students, scholars and policy makers seeking to understand the complexities of the network society. © 2004 Joop Koppenjan and Erik-Hans Klijn. All rights reserved.
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The Green Revolution not only failed to ensure safe and abundant food production for all people, but it was launched under the assumptions that abundant water and cheap energy to fuel modern agriculture would always be available and that climate would be stable and not change. In some of the major grain production areas the rate of increase in cereal yields is declining as actual crop yields approach a ceiling for maximal yield potential. Due to lack of ecological regulation mechanisms , monocultures are heavily dependent on pesticides. In the past 50 years the use of pesticides has increased dramatically worldwide and now amounts to some 2.6 million tons of pesticides per year with an annual value in the global market of more than US$ 25 billion. Today there are about one billion hungry people in the planet, but hunger is caused by poverty and inequality, not scarcity due to lack of production. The world already produces enough food to feed nine to ten billion people, the population peak expected by 2050. There is no doubt that humanity needs an alternative agricultural development paradigm, one that encourages more ecologically, biodiverse, resilient, sustainable and socially just forms of agriculture. The basis for such new systems are the myriad of ecologically based agricultural styles developed by at least 75% of the 1.5 billion smallholders, family farmers and indigenous people on 350 million small farms which account for no less than 50% of the global agricultural output for domestic consumption.
The need for greater public involvement in environmental decisionmaking has been highlighted in recent high-profile research reports and emphasized by leaders at all levels of government. In some cases, environmental agencies have opened the door to greater participation in their programs. However, there is relatively little information on what can be gained from greater public involvement and what makes some programs work while others fail. This article presents an evaluation of public participation in several cases of environmental planning in the Great Lakes region, focusing on how effectively these efforts introduced public values into government decisionmaking, resolved conflict among stakeholders, and built trust in environmental agencies. Data for the analysis came from a case survey" method in which the authors systematically coded information from previously written case studies. The research findings support an optimistic view of public participation-although not without important caveats-and emphasize the importance of communication and commitment in the participatory process. (C) 2000 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.
In this classic work of feminist political thought, Iris Marion Young challenges the prevailing reduction of social justice to distributive justice. It critically analyzes basic concepts underlying most theories of justice, including impartiality, formal equality, and the unitary moral subjectivity. The starting point for her critique is the experience and concerns of the new social movements about decision making, cultural expression, and division of labor--that were created by marginal and excluded groups, including women, African Americans, and American Indians, as well as gays and lesbians. Iris Young defines concepts of domination and oppression to cover issues eluding the distributive model. Democratic theorists, according to Young do not adequately address the problem of an inclusive participatory framework. By assuming a homogeneous public, they fail to consider institutional arrangements for including people not culturally identified with white European male norms of reason and respectability. Young urges that normative theory and public policy should undermine group-based oppression by affirming rather than suppressing social group difference. Basing her vision of the good society on the differentiated, culturally plural network of contemporary urban life, she argues for a principle of group representation in democratic publics and for group-differentiated policies. This is a superb book which opens up many new vistas for theorists of justice. Young makes a number of insightful arguments both about the issues that need to be addressed by a theory of justice, and about the kind of theory capable of addressing them.