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Opinion: Learning from citizens

Knowledge held by citizens provides insights about new food cultures and practices. While acknowledging the usefulness of top-down tools, Oliver De Schutter argues that the state should also embrace the need to learn, observe and be surprised by citizen-led initiatives.Knowledge held by citizens provides insights about new food cultures and practices. While acknowledging the usefulness of top-down tools, Oliver De Schutter argues that the state should also embrace the need to learn, observe and be surprised by citizen-led initiatives.

The transition towards sustainable food systems has often been conceived on the basis of two sets of instruments: legal regulations that impose certain ways of acting and prohibit others, or economic incentives such as taxes and subsidies to reward good practices and discourage less good practices.

This classic view of transition operates on the basis of a conception of power that is top-down and centralised. In this view, power is something we take, grab, or fight for, instead of a much more decentralised concept that needs to be exercised across view on transition imposes uniform solutions across the board without taking into account local contexts, available local recourses, and the motivations that people have to act together. This way of conceiving the transition to sustainable food systems is now recognised as insufficient. We must think of another way.

 

Title of publication: Farming Matters: Opinion: Learning from citizens
Volume: 32
Issue: 1
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Page range: 29
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Author: Olivier De Schutter
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Organization: ILEIA - centre for learning on sustainable agriculture
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Year: 2016
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Country/ies: Netherlands
Geographical coverage: European Union (European Union)
Type: Magazine article
Content language: English
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