- Discussions around ecological intensification›
- Sustainable vs Ecological vs Ecofunctional Intensification
Through the years different organizations and authors have focus on “eco-intensification” and developed different concepts. The following are the most discussed concepts in literature: ecological, sustainable and eco-functional intensification and all three aim at:
Increasing/maximizing productivity while reducing/minimizing negative impacts over the environment and ecosystem services in order to meet the anticipated increase of food demand.
We developed a Comparative table of these concepts, which you find clicking on the link “Comparative table and List of References“. This is meant as an input for this discussion.
The question we are aiming to answer in this discussion is:
Which concept of intensification best suits LIBERATION?
In answering this, please also consider the change of paradigm that each approach aims to effect (copied from the comparative table attached):
- Eco-functional intensification
- According to Levidow (2012) eco-functional intensification belongs to Agroecology via farmers’ knowledge of agro-ecological methods: improving nutrient recycling techniques, enhancing biodiversity and the health of soils, crops and livestock (p. 186).
- Sustainable intensification
- FAO (2011) and the Montpellier Panel (2013) present Sustainable Intensification as a new paradigm for food production.
- According to Levidow (2012) sustainable intensification belongs to Life Sciences via smart inputs from lab knowledge: enhancing external inputs, engineering their compositional qualities and increasing land productivity (p. 186).
- Garnett and Godfray (2012) present sustainable intensification as an aspiration.
- Levidow, Pimbert et al. (2013) explain that there are two approaches to the dominant agro-food regime: conforming and transforming. Sustainable intensification belongs to the conforming approach. It belongs to neoproductivist agendas promoting Life Sciences (e.g. GM crops) and selectively appropriating agroecological methods. The authors explain that by appropriating agroecological methods for productivist aims, the concept ‘sustainable intensification’ blurs the distinction between an agroecological agenda and Green Revolution capital-intensive agenda (p. 2).
- Ecological intensification
- For some authors like Doré,et al. (2011) and Tittonell and Giller (2013) ecological intensification is a new paradigm to face current agricultural challenges.
- While Cassman (1999) presents it as a goal, where intensification of production “systems can be achieved in order to satisfy the anticipated increase in food demand while meeting acceptable standards of environmental quality “ (p. 1).
Thank you in advance for your participation and looking forward!
Attachment: Comparative table and List of References for further reading.
We have noted that during this last week no discussions have taken place.
Maybe we can take it from the root question of this discussion
What are the main differences between Sustainable / Ecological / Ecofunctional intensification?
It wil be interesting to see what comes out and we do look forward in taking this discussion forward
Be well and I wish you all a great week end!
I feel that there are different levels to all of these concepts. Generally they are of course all related and similar.
On the policy/communication level “sustainable intensification” has been used widely, without however, clearly defining what it means. Both “ecological intensification” and “ecofunctional intensification” I have not found so far in relevant policy documents.
On the level of practices I feel that all three concepts are rather open, especially in the case of “sustainable intensification” I am not sure how one could clearly distinguish which practices or approaches are included or possibly excluded.
In the comparative table you will find some similarities and differences on these concepts. Levidow, Pimbert et al. (2013) explain that there are two approaches to the dominant agro-food regime: conforming and transforming.
In their view, Sustainable Intensification belongs to the conforming approach. Promoting existing technologies with respect to breeding and genetic modifications, and selectively appropriating agroecological methods. They suggest that by appropriating agroecological methods for productivist aims, the concept ‘sustainable intensification’ blurs the distinction between an agroecological agenda and Green Revolution capital-intensive agenda.
The question remains what might differentiate ecological intensification (or even sustainable intensification), to be transforming?
Last Saturday, the Committee on World Food Security (an intergovernmental body to serve as a forum in the United Nations System for review and follow-up of policies concerning world food security including production and physical and economic access to food) had several hours of debate related to the terms we are considering here. They were negotiating “Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems”. In the end, they agreed on including this text in the agreement: “Integrate traditional and scientific knowledge with best practices and technologies through different approaches which address environmental concerns, including agroecological approaches and sustainable intensification, among others”. What was interesting was that “agroecological approaches” and “sustainable intensification” were seen by most negotiators as different, at the same time as there was a general call for more clarity and definition of the terms. I think these discussions are important, and need to be quite rigorously pursued- the table provided here is a good first start.
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