Monday 5
From Framework to Farm work: Linking Resilience in Theory and Practice
Gine Zwart, Sarah Doornbos, Willy Douma
› 11:05 - 18:00 (6h55)
› Domaine de Restinclières
Strengthening agricultural biodiversity for smallholder livelihoods - What knowledge is needed to overcome constraints and release potentials?
Sara Elfstrand  1@  
1 : The Resilience and Development Programme (SwedBio), Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University

Agricultural biodiversity has a great potential to contribute to positive change and strengthening of smallholder farmers' livelihoods. The Resilience and Development Programme (SwedBio) was commissioned by the Dutch development NGOs Hivos and Oxfam Novib to undertake a study to identify existing constraints to release this potential, with the specific aim to provide a background for the further development of a Knowledge Programme on agricultural biodiversity for improved livelihoods and resilient food systems.

A theoretical framework based on resilience thinking was developed, focussing on factors crucial for positive adaptation and transformation in the social-ecological systems of agricultural landscapes. Consultations with key actors were carried out through a written survey and interviews, revealing a broad range of successful cases showing how agricultural biodiversity in different ways – through the actions and management of smallholder farmers and their organisations – has contributed to increased wellbeing and strengthened livelihoods as well as more resilient ecosystems. In addition, the survey pointed out key factors behind less successful interventions, barriers to change.

An important observation was that knowledge constraints stressed by respondents refer only to a limited extent to the lack of technical knowledge. Main constraints refer instead to observations that farmers' knowledge and experiences related to agricultural biodiversity have not (yet) been translated sufficiently into policies and strategies relevant to development organisations working in the South. A related constraint was that existing policies are often perceived as inadequate or even conflicting. We argue that it would be possible to address some of these constraints by focussing on the windows of opportunity for positive change, and promoting knowledge for empowerment and catalysing transformation. Overall, applying social-ecological systems' and resilience thinking as a means of visualising reality can be a useful tool in the context of governance and management of agricultural biodiversity. One approach that will be explored in the Knowledge programme is Resilience assessments and tools for integration of resilience-thinking in the knowledge networks.


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