Thematic Spotlight on...Governance

Published on
October 28, 2022

Text by: Abigail Muscat

In over 10 years, FACCE-JPI has funded 153 projects. In this series of thematic spotlights, we analyse FACCE-JPI projects on a specific theme and focus on their key insights and publications. In this thematic piece we focus on Governance.

Background and Introduction

Governance in agriculture and food systems: what is it?

Governance is the range of social processes and practices involved in ‘solving societal problems and creating societal opportunities through interactions among civil, public and private actors’(Kooiman et al., 2008). Governance, therefore, goes beyond institutions, such as national governments, international organisations or science-policy interfaces such as the IPCC. It also includes many private and civil society actors, such as corporations, NGOs and citizens and encompasses the relationships these societal actors may have with each other. Values, power relations, norms and societal practices are therefore also a key part of governance.

Agriculture faces several ecological and societal challenges, such as climate change, biodiversity loss and nitrogen pollution. A transformation of agriculture, and more broadly, food systems, is needed to meet these challenges. However many argue that this cannot happen if the governance of food systems itself is not transformed (Béné, 2022). The study of governance in agriculture and food systems largely deals with two questions 1) how can governance be used to solve the challenges that we currently face? 2) if current governance systems are not prepared for these challenges, what sort of governance systems are needed to ensure food system transformation?

Governance scholars study topics as broad as policies and their effects (Patel, 2021), stakeholder views and visions (Herens et al., 2022), the role of knowledge in science-policy interfaces (Singh et al., 2021), international institutions and power relations (Jackson et al., 2021; Jacobi et al., 2021) and societal behaviour (Onwezen et al.; 2019).

This thematic piece collects FACCE-JPI projects and their key insights and publications on the theme of governance across a diverse set of contexts, namely governing biodiversity and ecosystem services in Europe, food policy programs in South Africa and understanding smallholder farmer decision-making in India:

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