PhD project by Annemarieke de Bruin. The current exploitation of the environment for the benefit of food production has resulted in environmental and social justice issues. The aim of this PhD research is to understand how a just transition takes shape in an ongoing transition towards a circular food system in the North of the Netherlands.
Across the world the dominant food system remains rooted in a productivist paradigm that prioritises production and efficiency over the sustainable use of resources. The current exploitation of the environment for the benefit of food production has resulted in environmental and social justice issues and can therefore be considered both environmentally unsustainable and unjust. A promising way to respond to the environmental challenges is by applying circularity principles to the food system. However, a circular food system creates tensions with existing practices and understandings. It requires a transformation of underlying norms and values, as well as policies, markets, technologies, and practices. How can this transition process towards a circular food system address existing environmental and social injustices, as well as potential new injustices, through what actors perceive as a fair process?
The research done on ‘just transitions’ towards a low carbon economy offers important insights into how procedural, distributive and social justice might be achieved within a transition. In the case study context of the food system transition of the North of the Netherlands this PhD research will investigate how a just transition towards a circular food system takes shape. It will analyse the current transition and a social learning process through the analytical lens of a just transition. It will analyse procedural, distributive and social justice narratives, social and environmental inequalities, and perceptions of justice related to the current transition. To understand how a just transition might take shape it will also analyse co-designed scenarios and transition pathways that support a just transition towards a circular food system.
Four research questions (RQ) are formulated:
RQ1: How can a just transition towards a circular food system be conceptualised in the North of the Netherlands?
RQ2: How are social and environmental costs and benefits related to the food system distributed across the North of the Netherlands?
RQ3: How just do actors in the North of the Netherlands perceive the current transition towards a circular food system?
RQ4: How do actors co-design circular food system scenarios and just transition pathways?