62 | IAASTD Global Report

Table 2-1. Roles of agriculture.

Role Environmental Social Food Security Economic Cultural
Global Ecosystem resilience Mitigation of climatic change (carbon sequestration, land cover) Biodiversity Social stability Poverty alleviation Food security Growth Cultural diversity
Regional/ National Ecosystem resilience Soil conservation (erosion, siltation, salinization) Water retention (flood and landslide prevention) Biodiversity (agricultural, wild life) Pollution abatement/generation Balanced migration Social stability (and sheltering effects during crisis) Unemployment prevention Poverty alleviation Gender relations Access to food National security Food safety Economic stability Employment Foreign exchange Tourism Landscape Cultural heritage Cultural identity Social capital
Local Ecosystem resilience Soils conservation Water retention Biodiversity Pollution abatement/generation Social stability (employment, family) Local and household food safety Employment effects on secondary and tertiary sectors Landscape Indigenous and local knowledge Traditional technologies Cultural identity

Source: Adapted from FAO, 2008

remained a domestic issue, based in part on large numbers of small-scale producers who still need to ensure basic food security and here a different calculus of interests (Conway, 1994). Countries such as Japan, Switzerland, Norway and the European Union opted for redirecting AKST toward maintaining the multifunctional capacity of agriculture once food surplus was assured (De Vries, 2000; Huylenbroeck and Durand, 2003; Sakamoto et al., 2007). In recent decades, changes in consumer demand and renewed emphasis by citizens on food quality, ethical issues, rural community livelihoods as well as changes in policy concerns (including resource conservation, tourism, biomass energy production and environmental sustainability) have led to expectations in many countries that agriculture will be able to play a balanced and sustainable role in meeting multifunctional goals (Cahill, 2001; Hediger and Lehmann, 2003; Rickert, 2004; Paxson, 2007).

     Debates about multifunctionality were taken up by the OECD and FAO leading to a clarification of the policy implications and a broader recognition among trading partners that agriculture does play multiple roles and that AKST arrangements can and do have a part. The additional broad benefits potentially associated with multifunctional agriculture, including conservation of biodiversity, animal welfare, cultural and historical heritage values and the liability and viability of rural communities (Northwest Area Foundation, 1994; de Haan and Long, 1997; Cahill, 2001; Hediger and Lehmann, 2003) were in many countries returned to core AKST agendas. A growing body of evidence concerning the social and environmental costs of past and current tradeoffs among functions also began to be systematically quantified (Pimentel et al., 1992, 1993; Pretty and Waibel, 2005; Pretty, 2005a; Stern, 2006) as well as the benefits of reintroducing multifunctionality to industrial agricultural environments (NRC, 1989; Northwest Area Foundation, 1995; Winter, 1996; Buck et al., 1998).The role of local knowledge and technology processes also became more widely recognized


and formed the basis of AKST arrangements that sought to offer rural youth a motivation and realistic opportunities to stay in farming and develop agroenterprises (Breusers, 1998; FAO, 2004; Richards, 2005).

     At some scales the multifunctional roles and functions that different agricultural systems actually play today are well described for many contexts and are noncontroversial. However, many of the variables are difficult to assess and are recognized as requiring the development of new knowledge routines if they are to be addressed adequately (Raedeke and Rikoon, 1997). In particular, some of the ecological and social goods, services and amenities that are not subject to commercial transactions have proven difficult to measure and hence in recent years greater reliance has been placed on developing alternatives. These include the use of relevant and efficient proxy indicators (Akca et al., 2005; Mukherjee and Kathuria, 2006), "water footprint" estimations (Chapagain and Hoekstra, 2003; Hoekstra and Chapagain, 2007) that show the extent to which farming systems, production practices, consumption patterns and the composition of agricultural trade affect net water balances at national levels (Chapagain and Hoekstra, 2003) and environmentally adjusted macroeconomic indicators for national economies (O'Connor, 2006). The experience has been mixed of applying these to actual decision-making. Developing and using computer-simulated modeling of multifunctionality (McCown et al., 2002) at field-scale (e.g., McCown et al., 1996) or farm-to-landscape scale (e.g., Parker et al., 2002) has led to robust applications in support of interactive learning among diverse users (Walker, 2002; van Ittersum et al., 2004; Nidumolu et al., 2007) seeking to balance interests in processes of adaptive management (Buck et al., 2001).

2.1.2 Knowledge processes

Knowledge processes refer to the collective processes of creating, transforming, storing and communicating about