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CIVIL SOCIETY ROLES IN TRANSITION Dr Rachael Durrant, University of Sussex.

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Presentation on theme: "CIVIL SOCIETY ROLES IN TRANSITION Dr Rachael Durrant, University of Sussex."— Presentation transcript:

1 CIVIL SOCIETY ROLES IN TRANSITION Dr Rachael Durrant, University of Sussex

2 Overview 1.Introduce the topic – shift thinking 2.Present a new framework that I developed 3.Talk through some case studies 4.Relate this to wider debates about food policy 5.Invite your feedback

3 Why transition? Industry vs Nature (image from La Via Campesina website, courtesy of Grupo de Reflexión Rural)

4 Global search for solutions Mounting calls for transition to sustainable food…

5 Civil society organisations (CSOs) are governed and managed independently of the state do not distribute profits to shareholders encompass a degree of voluntarism exist largely to pursue notions of the public good CSOs Civil society a distinguishable yet inherently open and changeable arena defined in relation to state and market arenas and always intertwined with them in practice people freely form themselves into groups in order to connect around divergent notions of the public good diversity and hybrid forms are generated Paton’s Three Sector Model

6 £300-700 million is spent per year on activities related to sustainable food and farming by somewhere in the region of 10-25,000 CSOs Activities that: make an immediate difference on the ground co-ordinate and facilitate change the rules of the game UK-based CSOs in food and farming Food Ethics Council, Brighton, 2011 “The focus seems to be on filling holes left in a food system dominated by the private and public sectors, ahead of working to influence and change that system” Total spend on food advertising UK £727 million in 2003 Total value agro-food goods & servs UK £89.1 billion in 2009 Total govt spending food & ag UK £5.42 billion in 2011

7 Innovations Future food regime Trends and events Theory of ‘transition’ After Geels (2002) Current food regime Food scares New Govmt Financial crisis Biodynamics seed swaps land-sharing Permaculture Neoliberal trade policy Junk food Supermarkets Climate change food coops (Sustainable) Social equity Environmental integrity Personal wellbeing

8 Civil society roles in transition Durrant (2014) Norm challenging Grassroots innovation Niche development Regime reform Biodynamic/organic/low-carbon agriculture and horticulture, aquaponics, farm diversification, and growing trials for novel crops Peri-urban farming, urban market gardening, and food-growing on urban micro-sites Communal growing in gardens, allotments and orchards Garden-sharing and seed swapping amongst individuals Direct marketing through farm shops, box schemes and farmers’ markets; co-operative retail operations Local diet challenge, community dining events Food waste collection Community consultation Communal ownership by shares Co-operative governance Care-farming Providing accredited horticultural and agricultural training programmes (including distance- learning and residential courses), un-accredited cooking and growing workshops/courses, apprenticeship schemes and volunteer and staff development programmes Improving knowledge of alternative models by commissioning research, collating case studies, co-ordinating trials and running breeding programmes Providing guidance and technical assistance for practitioners through helplines, online and printed resources (including toolkits and how-to guides), knowledge transfer programmes (peer-to-peer and expert-led), and formal standards and guidelines Establishing formal members’ networks (place-based and nationwide) through online networking platforms, e-zines and network-building events Facilitating new partnerships between network members and networking local supply bases Providing secure land tenure at below-market rates, start-up funding, specialist inputs Assisting with community planning processes, supporting funding bids Raising awareness and mobilising peoples’ support through attention-grabbing stunts, story- telling, celebrity patronage, e-zines and online petitions Educating and re-skilling people through the provision of information, guidance and advice in food outlets, at public events and through public institutions Promoting alternatives to people through advertisements, events and celebrations, public demonstrations and permanent displays Generating moralistic pressure by publicly championing and promoting ‘good’ businesses and practices, naming and shaming ‘bad’ businesses and practices, and opposing undesirable developments Influencing policy-making processes by hosting policy development platforms, providing tools for decision-making, responding to government consultations and submitting evidence for planning procedures Advocating specific policy changes by publishing reports and political manifestos, giving public talks and media interviews, issuing press releases, and lobbying politicians directly Certification and labelling of products, outlets and supply chains using alternative standards and assurance schemes Incorporation of alternative assessment systems into commercial standards Incorporation of alternative criteria into procurement rules for public sector institutions and major public events Delivering commissionable service packages (including food service, food education, business development, and so on) for local authorities so they can meet their health and wellbeing obligations Convening multi-stakeholder platforms to drive dissemination of alternative criteria in the UK and beyond the UK Production Consumption Trade, distrib’n, retail Personnel Models Networks Infrastructures Consumers Policy-makers Businesses Public institutions Industries Corporations

9 Key Social movementPolicy/issue field Geographical areaRelationships between organisations UK case study…

10 Landscape Regime Niche practices Transformation



13 1.CSOs play important roles in transition 2.They are adaptive and strategic in combining the roles to achieve their missions 3.They work together to exploit synergies between the roles, exchanging ideas and resources 4.Over time they have created innovation pathways that influence the mainstream Review

14 What does this mean for food policy? Inappropriate focus on quantity of food, of improved sustainability credentials, CSOs are involved in producing Long history of ‘Productionism’ in UK food policy, coupled with Neoliberal trade policy What about civil society-led initiatives? Lead roles for central governments, multinational business, high-tech science (sustainable intensification) - civil society viewed as delivery vehicle for top-down agenda, and/or ‘social conscience’ o the different forms of systemic innovation through which CSOs influence food provision and contribute towards sustainability o wider benefits of ethical food consumption, civic involvement in food systems and related social activism Ignorance of other important factors:

15 What if policy: Viewed civil society as a source, incubator, champion and translator of innovations – rather than treating CSOs as (variously) irrelevant, expedient delivery partners, or just troublesome? Judged CSOs in terms of their collective contributions to system innovation, rather than focussing volumes of food produced? Recognised the mutually reinforcing nature of the different roles that CSOs play in transitions to sustainability? Acknowledged the need to support a diversity of approaches? Food policy ‘asks’ What would this look like in practice?


17 Transformative innovation pathway? 2000-10’s broader alliances formed under banner of ‘sustainable food’ 2020 Integration of environment, health & international devmt? Post-war Experiments in alternative methods 1960s-70s Back-to-the-land and alternative trade movements 1980s & 90s certification and labelling systems, growth in consumer markets for ethical foods, new forms of financial support

18 Palace Tent Local (Operating within a locality) Global (Operating across multiple localities) Internal structure Scale of operations Niche development Grassroots innovation Regime reform Normative contestation Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch The Fife Diet The Soil Association Sustain TFR Food Group

19 “…Is open to them ”“…Doesn’t ask them to” Articulating and practising a variety of different strategies for achieving change simultaneously. Adopt overly distinct or limited approaches to achieving change, or specify too many details of their role and function in wider change processes. Adapting their approaches over time, as they respond to internal developments and the dynamic environments in which they operate. Commit to long-term strategic plans unless there is significant flexibility built in, in a meaningful way. Collaborating in a variety of ways, formally and informally, with other CSOs, public institutions and businesses. Operate independently within silos, or shut potential partners out of the process. Experimenting with different ways of providing food without necessarily producing much volume. Deliver significant changes to food production and consumption at scale on their own/directly. Contributing to sustainability in food systems under different banners and guises. Adopt top-down framings of the change that they are seeking to achieve.

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