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Assessment of the growth in social groups for sustainable agriculture and land management

Pretty, Jules and Attwood, Simon and Bawden, Richard and van den Berg, Henk and Bharucha, Zareen P and Dixon, John and Flora, Cornelia Butler and Gallagher, Kevin and Genskow, Ken and Hartley, Sue E and Ketelaar, Jan Willem and Kiara, Japhet K and Kumar, Vijay and Lu, Yuelai and MacMillan, Tom and Maréchal, Anne and Morales-Abubakar, Alma Linda and Noble, Andrew and Prasad, PV Vara and Rametsteiner, Ewald and Reganold, John and Ricks, Jacob I and Rockström, Johan and Saito, Osamu and Thorne, Peter and Wang, Songliang and Wittman, Hannah and Winter, Michael and Yang, Puyun (2020) 'Assessment of the growth in social groups for sustainable agriculture and land management.' Global Sustainability, 3. ISSN 2059-4798

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Abstract

Non-technical summary: Until the past half-century, all agriculture and land management was framed by local institutions strong in social capital. But neoliberal forms of development came to undermine existing structures, thus reducing sustainability and equity. The past 20 years, though, have seen the deliberate establishment of more than 8 million new social groups across the world. This restructuring and growth of rural social capital within specific territories is leading to increased productivity of agricultural and land management systems, with particular benefits for those previously excluded. Further growth would occur with more national and regional policy support. Technical summary: For agriculture and land management to improve natural capital over whole landscapes, social cooperation has long been required. The political economy of the later twentieth and earlytwenty-first centuries prioritized unfettered individual action over the collective, and manyrural institutions were harmed or destroyed. Since then, a wide range of social movements,networks and federations have emerged to support transitions towards sustainability andequity. Here, we focus on social capital manifested as intentionally formed collaborativegroups within specific geographic territories. These groups focus on: (1) integrated pest man-agement; (2) forests; (3) land; (4) water; (5) pastures; (6) support services; (7) innovation plat-forms; and (8) small-scale systems. We show across 122 initiatives in 55 countries that thenumber of groups has grown from 0.50 million (in 2000) to 8.54 million (in 2020). Thearea of land transformed by the 170–255 million group members is 300 Mha, mostly inless-developed countries (98% groups; 94% area). Farmers and land managers workingwith scientists and extensionists in these groups have improved both environmental outcomesand agricultural productivity. In some cases, changes to national or regional policy supportedthis growth in groups. Together with other movements, these social groups could now supportfurther transitions towards policies and behaviours for global sustainability.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Life Sciences, School of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2020 10:27
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2020 10:27
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/28447

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