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Transition heuristic frameworks in research on agro-food sustainability transitions

Hamid El Bilali ()
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Hamid El Bilali: University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU)

Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, 2020, vol. 22, issue 3, No 2, 1693-1728

Abstract: Abstract The agro-food system needs a genuine sustainability transition to achieve sustainable food and nutrition security in the face of climate change, population growth, ecosystem degradation and increasing resource scarcity. Agro-food sustainability transitions refer to transformation processes needed to move towards sustainable agriculture and food systems. There is a broad range of theoretical and conceptual frameworks that have been used to understand and promote transition towards sustainability. These include the multi-level perspective (MLP) on socio-technical transitions, transition management (TM), strategic niche management (SNM), technological innovation system (TIS) and social practice approach (SPA). The paper analyses the use of these heuristic frameworks in research on agro-food sustainability transitions. A search carried out in March 2018 on Scopus yielded 791 documents, and 127 research articles underwent a systematic review. Results show that more than three-fifths of research papers dealing with sustainability transitions in agriculture, food processing, distribution and consumption use at least one of the five heuristic frameworks (MLP, TM, SNM, TIS and SPA). The MLP is the most prominent framework in research on agro-food sustainability transitions, followed by TM, SPA, SNM and then TIS. Nevertheless, MLP is increasingly complemented with frameworks that focus on human-related and social factors (SPA), management and governance (TM, SNM) or agency and interactions between actors (TIS) in sustainability transitions processes. Therefore, the paper makes the case for more integration of transition frameworks in order to better nurture and foster transitions towards sustainable agro-food systems.

Keywords: Sustainability transitions; Agriculture; Food; Multi-level perspective; Transition management; Strategic niche management; Social practice theory; Technological innovation systems (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1007/s10668-018-0290-0

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