Faculté des lettres et sciences humaines

Blind spots in agri-environmental governance: some reflections and suggestions from Switzerland

Forney, Jérémie

In: Review of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Studies, 2016, vol. 97, no. 1, p. 1

Attempts of making our food systems more sustainable have (partly) failed. Food production still contributes significantly to biodiversity losses, global warming and depletion of natural resources. Based on the postulation that this failure in the governance of environmental issues in agri-food systems relates notably to social and cultural aspects, this paper explores the literature in the... Mehr

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    Résumé
    Malgré une écologisation des politiques et des marchés, la production de notre alimentation continue de contribuer significativement à la détérioration de l’environnement. Cet article veut explorer les causes socio-culturelles de cet échec (partiel) de la gouvernance agro-environnementale (AEG). Un premier constat émerge de la littérature : la recherche sur l’AEG est généralement divisée en deux champs distincts, l’analyse des politiques publiques d’une part et l’étude des initiatives de la société civile ou de l’économie privée de l’autre, sans véritable approche transversale. Deuxièmement, en confrontant les enseignements tirés d’un large pan de la littérature avec une pratique de recherche ethnographique sur le long terme dans le contexte de l’agriculture Suisse, cet article identifie trois dimensions de l’AEG qui, selon moi, ouvrent de nouvelles perspectives : une approche englobante centrée sur la fonction alimentaire, la constitution de nouveaux savoirs collectifs, la promotion de l’autonomie. En cela, cet article souhaite participer au développement d’approches analytiques et théoriques englobantes et transversales des pratiques de gouvernance au sein de système agro-alimentaires complexes et hybrides par nature.
    Summary
    Attempts of making our food systems more sustainable have (partly) failed. Food production still contributes significantly to biodiversity losses, global warming and depletion of natural resources. Based on the postulation that this failure in the governance of environmental issues in agri-food systems relates notably to social and cultural aspects, this paper explores the literature in the social sciences looking for explanations. A first statement is that research around agri-environmental governance (AEG) issues remains globally split into two subgroups, one focusing on public policies and the other on the civil society or market aspects of environmental certification, with very little exchange or transversal analysis between the two. Drawing on the literature and on long-term fieldwork and research in Switzerland, I identify three dimensions of AEG that open new paths towards more sustainable food systems: an encompassing approach of the food system; the encouragement of collective knowledge creation and the promotion of autonomy. Joining other emerging scholarships, this paper calls for developments in the research on AEG that produce encompassing theoretical frameworks, which transcends pre-existing categories in order to allow new conceptualisation of governance practices in complex or hybrid systems. The integration of the food, knowledge and autonomy dimensions should help in creating innovative and transformative governance instruments.