Contribution of systems thinking and complex adaptive system attributes to sustainable food production: Example from a climate-smart village uri icon

abstract

  • Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) conceptually has the potential to contribute to the sustainable development goals of achieving zero hunger, reducing land degradation, eliminating poverty, [adding climate change, and promoting gender equality. The scaling-up needed to achieve goals of CSA represents a challenge, as it entails understanding synergies between often opposing socioeconomic and environmental priorities and trade-offs over temporal and spatial scales. In this paper, we tested new approaches to support scaling-up of sustainable food production through investigating the contribution of systems thinking as a conceptual approach and complex adaptive system (CAS) attributes as a framework for analysis of CSA. This was done through examining (i) to what extent CSA represents a CAS and (ii) what contribution systems thinking and CAS attributes can make to understanding and scaling-up sustainable food production systems through CSA. The CSA situation was conceptualized through systems thinking sessions with women farmers in the climate-smart village (CSV) of Doggoh-Jirapa, northern Ghana, and was guided by the Distinctions, Systems, Relationships and Perspectives (DSRP) framework. Systems thinking, and CAS attributes provide system-wide understanding of elements, dynamics and trade-offs over temporal and spatial scale in selected agri-food systems. As such it could aid horizontal and vertical scaling-up by informing policy developoment and selection of a context-specific portfolio of technologies and practices at landscape and farm levels to achieve synergies between goals. In this study, systems thinking enabled women farmers in the CSV to identify income-generating and tree planting activities, with desirable simultaneous system-wide impact. The paper calls for further testing of tools, approaches, and methods that enable dynamic systems thinking to inform scaling-up efforts, while embracing the transdisciplinary nature and complexity of CSA as a constituent of the food production system.

publication date

  • 2019
  • 2019