Lead organization: The Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI), University of Gloucestershire
Participating organizations (IPSI members): United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS); University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU)
Participating organizations (non-IPSI members): Kyoto University, Gakushin Women’s College, NIBIO, Korean Rural Economics Institute (KREI), University of Frankfurt, AgroParisTech, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, University of Waterloo, University of Bern, CREA National Agricultural Economics Research Institute, Scotland’s Rural University College (SRUC), USDA ARS
In many countries, people and nature have co-evolved over many centuries to create systems of ecological and socio-economic landscape management that sustain high natural and cultural value. The Japanese use the terms ‘Satoyama and Satoumi’ to delineate these systems in inland and coastal contexts respectively, while in Europe we might call them ‘social-ecological systems of high nature value’, or simply ‘cultural landscapes’. The IPSI partnership was established following the Earth Summit in Nagoya in 2010, to promote exchange and understanding of the value and the need to protect and enhance these ‘Social-Ecological Production Systems’, across the globe. In 2014 the OECD supported a first conference in Japan on the Satoyama concept and associated initiatives to promote better understanding of people-nature relations.
Globally, these interlinked and co-dependent systems are under threat of decline and disappearance in the face of competition from often larger-scale, less culturally sensitive industrial agricultural and forestry systems and processes. These are typically systems in which food or timber production is focused upon low-cost and/or high output commodity supply into national or international markets which do not recognise or reward nature-culture interactions. Consumers may be unaware of the conditions of production applying to products from these systems, and current price signals generally fail to reflect wider societal concerns about the external costs that such systems may generate, damaging environmental and social and community values. Such systems also tend to afford little importance to the longstanding knowledge of traditional producers, concerning local environmental and social assets and the need to sustain them. Instead they emphasise short-term economic returns at the expense of longer-term resilience, in their market behaviour, growth and development.
Looking ahead, the societal imperative to recognise planetary boundaries and find more effective ways to promote and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals is keenly appreciated by governments around the globe. Researchers, practitioners and policy makers who have worked with Satoyama and cultural landscape management understand that where these systems are nurtured and sustained, they can offer multiple benefits to consumers, producers and citizens now and for the future. The conference organisers have been involved in recent work investigating these topics.
Aims and Relevance to IPSI Strategy / Plan of Action
The aim of the conference will be to promote knowledge exchange, networking and learning among policy and practice communities operating at local level and within supply chains and sectors operating nationally and internationally. It will showcase ideas and experience in how best to sustain and achieve resilience within cultural landscapes, strengthening positive nature-culture interlinkages and recognising the added value to society that these systems offer. Messages from research, policy and practice will be differentiated and targeted to national and international governance, to key commercial players in agri-food and forest product markets, and to local communities and actors, through careful design of the conference programme. Sessions presenting cases from Europe, Asia and perhaps other continents will be interspersed with discussion opportunities and panel debate, to help identify key points of commonality and difference. A short summary of key conference findings will be produced and circulated widely among delegates and key international organisations including FAO, IUCN, OECD, the European Commission and the World Bank. A special edition of an appropriate international journal will be secured, in order to distil and promote the most interesting research and practice findings arising from work presented at the conference.
The conference will take place over 48 hours, beginning with an evening plenary session to set out the topics to be covered. Day one will offer a mix of research and practice presentations, and a mid-afternoon reflection on current challenges and how they can be overcome, spanning market-led and policy-led lessons from national and more local experiences. A pre-dinner panel debate will develop some of the challenges and potential solutions further at international level. Dinner will aim to showcase food and drink produced commercially from cultural landscapes across the UK.
The second day will include a further session of presentations followed by a pre-lunch plenary in which key messages from all the sessions so far will be brought together and discussed, as a precursor to developing the conference summary document. Two field trips will be built into the final afternoon to enable delegates to see first-hand, innovative and positive examples of sustaining cultural landscapes close to the conference venue, in south-west England.
Interspersed with the plenary sessions on the first full day of conference, parallel sessions with full papers and discussion papers will be organised around 3 key themes: knowledge and innovation in people-nature management; culture and well-being in people-nature management; and governance challenges and options for SEPLs. There will be 2 parallel sessions each of 90 minutes, with 3 papers and time for discussion among and between presenters and delegates, in each session. This format allows the opportunity particularly for junior researchers (PhD and Post-Doctoral), also key practitioners and policy makers, to take an active role in the conference who would not otherwise feel able to present in plenary to the full gathering. A moderator for each theme will ensure that conclusions from each parallel session are fed back to the discussions in plenary, on the second day of the conference. Contributors to these sessions would not be OECD funded but recruited through targeted calls among suitable networks in the UK and across Europe.
Outputs and Outcomes
The conference will provide a platform to showcase concerns, challenges and solutions for sustaining cultural landscape management and the positive connections between people and nature in these situations. It will enable delegates to learn from experiences in practice, in policy and market development, about the most successful ways to sustain these important systems.
The presentations and summary discussions from the conference will be made publicly available online via suitable web-hosts including academic and policy sites (notably www.ccri.ac.uk).
The summary document from the conference will be promoted via networks and events in Europe and Asia, through partners, sponsors and/or collaborators in the conference including e.g. IPSI, OECD, EiPAgri, IUCN, Council of Europe and the FAO’s GIAHS initiative, as well as within academic networks spanning disciplines from agricultural economics and agri-food marketing, to geography, environmental and ecological science and landscape planning and management.
We will enter discussion with editors of a small number of international journals concerning the scope for open access publication of key papers from the conference. The organisers have already received approaches from several such journal editors, seeking exactly this type of outcome for their recent research on similar themes (e.g. following publication of PEGASUS brief papers in the January edition of Eurochoices). Our aim would be to publish a special edition in 2021 containing keynotes, selected papers from the parallel sessions and the conference summary, as well as a short editorial by the organisers and key sponsors.
Venue and Logistics
The conference will be hosted in south-west England by the University of Gloucestershire’s Countryside and Community Research Institute, a partner member of IPSI, and a leading European centre of applied research excellence in agri-food and rural policy and practice. A small number of other UK, EU and Asian collaborators and sponsors will be involved in conference planning, sponsorship and dissemination/communication activities before, during and after the event: current discussions include IPSI / UNU Tokyo; IASC / IFPRI; and the Uplands Alliance / EFNCP / UKNPAs. The venue for the conference will be the Royal Agricultural University’s main campus in Gloucestershire which offers good conferencing facilities and high quality rural surroundings
The venue is well-connected to national and international transport hubs – close to Birmingham and Heathrow airports and on the national mainline railway – but at the same time, embedded within a diverse rural area demonstrating many examples of cultural landscape challenge and opportunity.
Field trips will aim to visit contrasting examples of initiatives tackling the reversal of decline or disappearance in valuable cultural landscapes including marginal and more productive situations where the twin threats of intensification and industrial agriculture on the one hand, and marginalisation and abandonment on the other, have been experienced and are being addressed through initiatives in practice, combining policy and market
The conference is being funded under the OECD Co-operative Research Programme (CRP): Biological Resource Management for Sustainable Agricultural systems, whose financial support has made it possible for the invited speakers from OECD countries to participate in the conference. A total of 26,210 € has been allocated as travel costs. A further 3,050 € has been provided towards publication of the conference proceedings.
CALL-OUT: We are looking to include speakers from non-OECD member countries (e.g. China, India etc). If you would like to participate and are able to source travel costs, please get in touch through the contact details above.