Civil society roles in transition: towards sustainable food?

Durrant, Rachael (2014) Civil society roles in transition: towards sustainable food? Working Paper. Food Research Collaboration.

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Abstract

Civil society organisations (CSOs) are often conspicuously absent in policy discussions and strategic planning about food security and the environmental sustainability of food systems. However, findings from a recent study of UK-based CSOs indicate that these groups make a variety of important contributions towards innovation in both policy and practice. This briefing paper draws attention to the disconnection between the narrowly constrained treatment of CSOs within policy circles, and the broad range of different ways that they actually engage with and influence policy and market conditions. Its purpose is to provoke new ways of thinking about civil society and provide CSOs with a new logic (and evidence) to underpin their efforts to leverage resources.

Key messages are as follows:
- UK-based CSOs have historically made significant contributions to the innovation trajectories of our food and agriculture systems
- In contrast to markets, which tend towards homogeneity and are fuelled by competition, characteristics of civil society that crucially underpin these contributions are diversity and collaboration
- Policy ignorance of civil society – its purposes, how it operates and its contributions to the development of agro-food systems – must be addressed, e.g. by incentivising and creating spaces for exchange of ideas and practices between CSOs, policy-makers and academics
- Established ways of engaging CSOs in the governance of agro-food systems must be re-thought and more appropriate modes and levels of intervention in and support for civil society must be sought

Item Type: Reports and working papers (Working Paper)
Keywords: civil society sustainability food systems transition
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
S Agriculture
T Technology > TD Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering
Depositing User: Rachael Durrant
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2015 11:35
Last Modified: 15 Jul 2015 11:35
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/55365

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