International conference on Agri-Chains and Sustainable Development: linking local and global dynamics

Registration to the conference is now open on the conference website: http://acsd2016.cirad.fr/registration



The conference aims to debate about the role of agricultural chains in implementing local and global frameworks and partnerships for transforming the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into reality. It seeks to cover and confront the diversity of realities behind agri-chains, from localized chains, embedded in specific places, to global value chains.

The conference will bring together scholars and professionals from around the world to share research, experiences, ideas and lessons learned with a view to stimulating the dialogue on the future of agricultural chains. In particular, the conference aims at highlighting and discussing the challenges and trade-offs of pursuing multiple, sometimes contradictory, SDGs through agri-chain development. Through specifying critical challenges and innovations, the conference will set the scene for drawing a shared agenda for research and action with regards to linking agri-chains and sustainable development.

Communications are expected to examine the following three themes of the conference: 

  1. Performance and evaluation of agri-chains with respect to the SDGs
  2. Public policies and agri-chain governance mechanisms at different scales in support of the SDGs
  3. Concrete innovations and partnerships for building and transforming agri-chains towards sustainable development

Characteristics of territories (or place-based development) and their linkages with agri-chains will be explored as cross-cutting dimensions transversal to the themes.

Authors are invited to submit theoretical and empirical contributions on the suggested topics described below (see Short description of the conference themes) or on any other issue pertaining to the three themes of the conference. Contributions will be evaluated and selected by the scientific committee members in their specific area.

 

Development and agri-chain professionals and innovators are strongly encouraged to share their experience through submitting poster proposals. For those selected, these posters will be presented together with oral communications during the parallel sessions.

 

Background Information

In October 2015, the member states of the United Nations signed a new agenda for development, embodied in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This renewed ambitious 2030 Agenda, centered on the concept of sustainability, introduces some important novelties: it strongly emphasizes the multidimensional character of development; it breaks the differentiation between developed and developing countries; and it opens more spaces for the participation of non-state actors in development initiatives, through the constitution of a “global partnership for change”.

Agricultural value chains play a major role in this global framework.  In a globalized context, marked notably by intensified commercial and financial flows, increasing sanitary risks and rapid consumer behavior evolutions, agricultural value chains undergo profound technical, economic and social transformations, which are set to increase and amplify in the years to come. The latter have extensive socio-economic and environmental impacts, both positive and negative, and considerably influence actions aimed at addressing sustainability challenges such as: biomass supply and food security, poverty reduction, employment, health, climate and energy transition, biodiversity and ecosystem services, desertification, pollutions and resource scarcity and waste, etc. 

The implementation of the 2030 Agenda urge value chain actors and development practitioners to experiment innovative models, methods and tools to improve sustainability at different scales. Public and private actors are expected to propose new forms of regulations and governance. A huge diversity of initiatives and innovations develop from local to global levels. Global actors, and in particular private enterprises and international NGOs, increasingly propose public/private partnerships and multistakeholder alliances to promote sustainable and inclusive economic models. Conversely, at local and territorial levels, a variety of public and private actors also experiment innovative ways for linking agricultural production with the other economic sectors and ultimately with consumers, through short, local or circular value chains. At all scales, transitions to sustainability call for innovative technical solutions in production and processing phases. More generally, through value chains, local and global challenges to sustainability meet and local and global actors experiment interlinked or common solutions. Agricultural value chains therefore increasingly constitute key spaces where the implementation of the SDGs is constructed, negotiated and evaluated and where different multistakeholder partnerships are established. The potential associated with the many different models for ensuring transitions to sustainability critically needs to be assessed and debated.

Short description of the conference themes

Theme 1 “Performance and evaluation of agri-chains with respect to the SDGs” concerns metrics, indicators, and qualitative and quantitative impact assessments of agri-chain development and transformation. It covers methods and tools for assessing sustainability and inclusiveness of agri-chains, for monetizing hidden costs and for implementing monitoring frameworks for the SDGs at different scales. It implies a discussion about the notion of sustainability and sustainable development against which the assessment is performed. Contributions are expected to reflect on methodological advances in integrating social and environmental impacts. Special attention will be devoted to the assessment of value chain performances at the territorial scale.

Theme 2 “Public policies and agri-chain governance mechanisms at different scales in support of the SDGs” deals with public policies, private standards, global civil society initiatives and multi-stakeholders alliances. This theme covers a wide range of private actor initiatives, especially at international and national levels, such as multistakeholders platforms and standards, responsible agricultural supply chain initiatives, impact investments, etc. aimed at sustainable and inclusive agri-chains. The implications of financialization processes in these dynamics must be accounted for. Contributions are expected to discuss the role of different private actors (firms, NGOs, etc.) as prescriptors of models of development, and to bring insights for reconsidering and inventing forms of collective action and public policies at different scales in support of the SDGs. Attention will be given to coherence issues between different sectorial policies, notably trade, food security and nutrition, development cooperation, environmental and agricultural policies.

Theme 3 “Concrete innovations and partnerships for building and transforming agri-chains towards sustainable development” deals with technical and social innovation processes along agri-chains. Contributions are expected to discuss practical experiences and designs across different stages and along different types of agri-chains: of agroecological, nutrition sensitive and decarbonizing production systems; sustainable diversification of biomass uses, notably in relation with energetic transition; waste and loss reduction technologies; etc. These experiences will connect with social innovations and systemic ways to promote and scale up innovation; and are meant to cover youth entrepreneurship, agri-clusters, urban-rural nexus and food systems, emerging value chains associated with circular economies (waste or effluent recycling) and innovation platforms.

 

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