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Indicator framework and future visions guiding transition pathways for a sustainable Brazilian agri-food system

Goulart da Silva, William (2019) Indicator framework and future visions guiding transition pathways for a sustainable Brazilian agri-food system. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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The hegemonic food security discourse proposes the increase of agricultural productivity and intensification of land use to increase food production and address the two main challenges of agri-food systems: access to adequate food and reduced environmental impacts. This perspective feeds neoliberal free market ideology and technological revolution, thereby masking crucial issues of power, injustice and inequalities. Using Brazil as an example, this doctoral research develops a broader understanding of the agri-food system, its sustainability, key drivers and challenges, and designs possible solutions for agri-food challenges in a participatory way. A hierarchical indicator framework is developed to assess the sustainability of the Brazilian agri-food system from a broader perspective, taking into account multifunctionality, multidimensionality, policy relevance and applicability of results and outcomes. Subsequently, a backcasting participatory framework is designed to develop two transition pathways towards a sustainable Brazilian agri-food system. The pathways follow contrasting ideas and insights from local stakeholders: a top down reformist approach aligned with food security discourse; and a bottom up transformational approach aligned with food sovereignty discourse (the right to food and to produce food). The results of the indicator framework suggest that Brazil’s national policies perform relatively better in terms of access to food and trade balance, reflecting food security targets. However, taking into account broader sustainability considerations such as biodiversity conservation, traditional communities, use of agrochemicals, equity and justice, the overall performance is weak. Results from the transition pathways show that actions emphasising food sovereignty would achieve better sustainability outcomes. However, both pathways are unlikely to be implemented in the short term. Pathways towards a sustainable Brazilian agri-food system would be more effective if they combined initiatives from both approaches. The main implementation challenge lies with civil society mobilization. Social movements need to build a common agenda and form alliances to achieve better sustainability outcomes.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Earth and Environment (Leeds) > Sustainability Research Institute (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr William Goulart da Silva
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2019 10:23
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2019 10:23
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/24286

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