Pathways towards applied policy integration for sustainable – University of Copenhagen

Pathways towards applied policy integration for sustainable

Overall focus and purpose

The aim of the Copenhagen meeting is to progress understanding of ways to enhance local landscape scale integration of broad scale global policy agendas for trade and sustainability. A major, practical challenge in this context will be to identify landscape practices – including agricultural land use, other landscape management practices, social networks and local institutions – which contribute to efficient, sustainable and resilient relationships between local landscapes and global networks (the ‘space of flows dimension according to Castells (2000)) as well as providing an attractive and well functioning setting for local social life and ecological processes (the ‘space of place dimension).

The context for the workshop is a continuing collaboration across a number of developed countries developing key concepts and analytical frameworks for studying agricultural landscape systems and for the development of integrated policy approaches in order to support sustainable agricultural systems. The specific point of departure is a recently published text ‘Globalisation and Agricultural Landscape: Change patterns and policy trends in developed countries’ (Primdahl and Swaffield (eds) 2010, CUP). In this we developed preliminary conceptual models for studying agricultural landscape change patterns in the contexts of (1) globalised driving forces, (2) local conditions and adaptations, and (3) policy initiatives at all levels from international institutions to local governments. Contributors presented results from case studies of landscape change and policy initiatives in a number of OECD member states, and a number of these experts will be speaking at the 2011 meeting.

Inspired by Lefebvre (1991) Harvey (1989, pp.211-225), and Healy (2009) the next phase of work that the Copenhagen meeting is intended to initiate will focus on three (interlinked and somewhat overlapping) dimensions of landscape practices:

  1. Protecting, maintaining and changing landscapes through actions such as: agricultural production; owners’ and citizens management of their property and landscape, conservation practices (individual, collectively, public); regulation; policy incentives etc.
  2. Representing landscapes through: appreciating, discussing, theorizing, mapping, designating, etc.
  3. Imagining/envisioning landscapes through: suppressing/resisting/desiring, mobilizing and framing ideas, visions and spatial strategies.

The landscape practices are driven by combinations of externally driving forces and actions taken by local agents in the agricultural landscape including farmers, other residents and local community organisations. Two changing processes are of particular importance to agricultural landscapes: (1) structural development of agriculture, driven mainly by technology, market and policy developments and (2) urbanisation processes of different kinds, including the movement of people from cities and suburbs into the country (counter-urbanisation) (Primdahl et al 2010). Local actions on the other hand can be seen partly as responses to external changes, partly as more or less autonomous activities taken by local agents (individuals as well as different types of groups and enterprises). Local conditions (biophysical features, scenery, socio-economic structures, proximity to urban centres, etc.) play a crucial role in framing the specific practices taking place (Primdahl and Swaffield 2010; Swaffield 2010).

The key note presentations are drawn from a range of countries, some with low levels of public investment in landscape management, others with higher levels of subsidy and investment. Cases are presented based upon landscapes that are intensifying, and those that are extensifying, and upon landscapes at the urban –rural interface. The common feature is that production or food and fibre is a core landscape function, and that practices seek to reconcile imperatives from both the trade and sustainability agendas.

Looking ahead, we see the Copenhagen meeting as an important step towards research co-operation concerning pathways towards policy integration for sustainable agricultural systems.

The key note presentations will provide the basis for the meeting and will be subsequently published as a special Journal issue. We have also invited younger researchers to the meeting and and a number of them will give a short introduction to their research topic and approaches. Extended abstracts from both the keynotes and the younger researchers will be published online.

Beyond these immediate outcomes, our intention is that a research network can be established for longer term research dealing with the practices described above. In 2013, the plan is to organize a symposium at an international conference where different case studies on agricultural landscape practices in a sustainability context are presented. Based on this symposium and subsequent comparative analysis a book will be published.

Jorgen Primdahl and Simon Swaffield June 2011


Castells, M. (2000): The Rise of the Network Society, 2nd. Edition. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Harvey, D. (1989): The Condition of Postmoderty. Cambridge: Blackwell.

Lefebvre, H. (1991): The Production of Space. Cambridge: Blackwell.

Healey, P. (2009): In Search of the ‘Strategic’ in Spatial Strategy Making. Planning Theory & Practice 10 (4): 439-457.

Primdahl, J. and Swaffield, S. (2010a). Globalisation and the sustainability of agricultural landscapes. In Primdahl and Swaffield (eds.). Globalisation and agricultural landscapes - change patterns and policy trends in developed countries. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp 1-15.

Primdahl, J., Andersen, E., Swaffield, S.R., Kristensen, L.S. (2010b) The intersecting dynamics of agricultural structural change and urbanisation within European rural landscapes – change patterns and policy implications. In Proceedings from the conference: Living landscape – the European Landscape Convention in Research Perspective. Pisa: Bandecchi & Vibaldi , pp. 355-370.

Swaffield, S.R. and Primdahl, J. (2010). Globalisation and local agricultural landscapes: patterns of change, policy dilemmas and research questions. In Primdahl and Swaffield (eds.). Globalisation and agricultural landscapes - change patterns and policy trends in developed countries. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp 245-270.

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