A Philosophy of Diversity for Sustainable Agricultural Development: Responding to Climate Change by Empowering People

By Douglas K. Bardsley.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Agricultural modernisation has provided food, fibre, wealth and opportunity for many people. However, it is only a relatively recent experiment in resource use in human ecological history. It is an experiment that requires an enormous supporting infrastructure of research and development, and ongoing expensive inputs. Even then, modern agricultural systems are subject to biodiversity loss, soil degradation and substantial productivity risks. Moreover, it is still highly uncertain how modern, interdependent production systems and supply chains will respond to rapid climate change and associated resource constraints. Where a singular modernisation paradigm could be seen to be failing to overcome malnutrition and poverty for many within the margins, a rational approach to land use must advocate an alternative development direction that incorporates the local complexity into the process. In an emerging era of risk, such support for resilience within human ecological systems on the margins becomes a vital goal of development. Examples of methods for supporting diversity within and between agricultural ecosystems are drawn from the researcher’s work in upland agroecosystems in Switzerland, Nepal, and Turkey, and with reference to Australia. Emerging complementary approaches suggest a framework for effectively conserving diversity in marginal agroecosystems by empowering local actors to apply their own interpretations of positive change. The emerging Human ecology paradigm focuses on the multifunctional values of agriculture and challenges the dominant modernisation approach by providing a framework by which sustainable development could be redefined within local contexts.

Keywords: Agricultural Development, Climate Change, Vulnerability, Agrobiodiversity, Human Ecology

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.19-28. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 550.687KB).

Dr Douglas K. Bardsley

Senior Project Officer, Land and Biodiversity Services, Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation, Government of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Dr. Douglas Bardsley is currently examining opportunities to respond to climate change in the Adelaide-Mt Lofty Ranges region for the South Australian Government. He is also an Honorary Fellow within the School of Anthropology, Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Melbourne. Trained as an agricultural scientist, a social geographer and an educator, his research interests over the last 15 years have focused on environmental and agro-ecological risk management, links between conservation and development, and education for sustainable development. His research has been undertaken while based in universities in Australia and the UK, and involved fieldwork in different contexts in Australia, Thailand, Turkey, Switzerland, Nepal and the European Union.

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