Managing complex bioeconomy interventions in the agrarian sector
Calls for a “sustainable bioeconomy” have recently begun to proliferate in academic and political circles as an answer to global challenges such as the rapidly increasing world population and changing environmental conditions due to climate change. To build economies that rely on various sources of biomass rather than on fossil-based resources, bioeconomy policies highlight a need to explore ways in which productivity in agriculture can be increased. While the focus on productivity growth has largely been inspired by technology optimism and modernisation thinking, the local knowledge of farmers and other rural stakeholders – as a means of contributing to socially and ecologically more sustainable bioeconomy pathways – has frequently been sidelined. This perspective article proposes and discusses a participatory approach to strategy formulation and evaluation in agricultural transformation and bioeconomy development that is based on the methodological toolbox MARISCO (Adaptive MAnagement of vulnerability and RISk at COnservation sites). By offering a means of developing a comprehensive knowledge map, bringing together both insights and perspectives from diverse local stakeholders, this approach enables a systemic evaluation of the social and ecological effects of intervention strategies on the ground. The article outlines the benefits – and challenges – of such a systemic and participatory approach and briefly sketches how the results can be utilised in more sustainable governance processes in the development of bioeconomy strategies. We conclude that our adapted MARISCO methodology offers a viable tool to make more visible the perspectives and knowledge of biomass producers for policymakers and to contribute to a much-needed discursive shift in bioeconomy debates towards more holistic and inclusive perspectives.
Keywords: Bio-based economy; Participatory methods; Social-ecological systems; Intensification; Agriculture
Michael Spies, M.; Zuberi, M.; Mählis, M., Zakirova, A., Alff, H., Raab, C. Towards a participatory systems approach to managing complex bioeconomy interventions in the agrarian sector, Sustainable Production and Consumption, Volume 31, 2022, 557-568, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spc.2022.03.020.