Transitions towards more sustainable agri-food chains

Marianne Hubeau, Koen Mondelaers, Ine Coteur, Fleur Marchand, Ludwig Lauwers

Onderzoeksoutput: Bijdrage aan congresGepubliceerd abstract

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Our resource base is increasingly under pressure due to demographic, economic and environmental changes. This evidence suggests the need for a transition towards a new, more sustainable production system. To facilitate this transition, we developed and applied a new conceptual framework that follows an integrated chain approach. Transitions in complex socio-technical systems can be studied using transition theory (Geels & Schot, 2007).
Our food production system is an example of a complex socio-technical system in which resources are transformed across many chain actors. These resource transformations can be analysed following the linear throughput model of Lawn (2007). In this model, five elements are distinguished that explain the dynamics between the economy, the social system and the ecosystem, which are natural capital, throughput, human made capital, net psychic income and the cost of natural capital services. Coordination within the agro-food system on its turn can be captured with the framework of global chain value analysis (GCVA) developed by Gereffi (2005), which is rooted in neo-institutional economics. This framework identifies five governance types, i.e. market, modular, relational, captive and hierarchy.
Our integrated conceptual framework, which combines the above three frameworks, enables the analysis of all dimensions of sustainability (ecological, social and economic) from a chain perspective. However, important questions remain relating to the interrelation between governance type and sustainable capital use as well as to the identification and measurement of sustainability boundaries for capital stocks and flows. This paper illustrates, by means of an empirical study of the Flemish agri-food chain, the integrated conceptual framework and how these questions c addressed.
First, an integrated system analysis of the Flemish agri-food chain is performed based on the developed framework, indicating the current state of the capital forms as well as the different governance structures. Data is collected from national (e.g. Belfirst) and European (e.g. Eurostat) statistical databases, secondary data resources, and in-depth interviews with the various supply chain actors. Next, the current state of the various capital forms is linked to pressures arising from the identified governance types. The current state is then compared to sustainability thresholds for the various capital forms. This allows us, in a final section, to explore possible transition pathways and governance structure modifications which transform current capital use into more sustainable capital use.
By implementing this framework in a tangible case-study, lessons can be learned for future research on transition towards sustainability within complex socio-technical systems.
Aantal pagina's1
StatusGepubliceerd - aug-2014
EvenementISEE Conference Iceland 2014: Wellbeing and equity within planatary boundaries - Reykjavik, IJsland
Duur: 12-aug-201415-aug-2014


CongresISEE Conference Iceland 2014: Wellbeing and equity within planatary boundaries


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