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Exploring the potential contributions of the bio-economy and the eco-economy to agri-food and rural regional development

Horlings, Lummina Gertruda, Kitchen, Lawrence Charles, Marsden, Terry Keith and Bristow, Gillian Irene 2010. Exploring the potential contributions of the bio-economy and the eco-economy to agri-food and rural regional development. [Working Paper]. Cardiff: Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS), Cardiff University.

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Abstract

Producers, scientists and governments seek ways towards a broader sustainable development. Whilst in the 1980s and 1990s environmentalists pleaded for sustainable development to address environmental problems, the question now is not if, but how sustainability challenges are to be addressed. On this issue two dynamic and contesting paradigms are evolving: the eco-economic paradigm and the bioeconomic paradigm. The bio- and eco-economy paradigms both make substantive sustainability claims, but identify different pathways for development and unfoldThe bio-economic paradigm asserts the role and value of technological innovation in capturing the latent value in biological processes and renewable bio-resources to produced improved health and sustainable growth and development. It covers a range of activities including biotechnology, genomics, chemical engineering and enzyme technology, and is experiencing significant growth across many regions in Europe. An alternative approach is that of the eco-economy paradigm. This approach is an alternative, more diverse and fragmented arena for the development of new production and consumption chains and networks. It places an emphasis upon the recalibration of micro-economic behaviour and practices that, added together, can potentially realign production-consumption chains and capture local and regional value between rural and urban spaces. The eco-economy model thus involves the rise of complex networks or webs of viable businesses (many of them small and medium sized new businesses) and economic activities that utilise ecological resources in more sustainable and ecologically efficient ways (e.g new renewable energy firms, agri- tourism, food processing and catering, and an array of social enterprises). In this paper is show how the emergent bio-economy and the eco-economy are rooted in different theoretical notions and organised along different principles with their own specific expressions and consequences.First some conceptual definitions of the bio- and eco- economy are constructed, set into the context of the overarching theory of ecological modernization and its various strong or weak manifestations. Furthermore, by critically reviewing various strands of social science literature, the expressions of the bio- and eco-economy in agri-food and regional development are described. The onset of both the eco and the bio-economy, by definition, creates the potential accumulation spaces and new market frameworks to exploit ecologies in new ways. The paper raises numerous questions as to how the dynamics of these alternative paradigms will play out in agriculture and regions and challenge dominant conceptions of innovation, competitiveness and spatial clustering. These questions have particular resonance with ongoing developments in European regional and rural policies as well as national spatial and economic policy debates. The contested contingencies between the bio-economy and the eco-economy are playing themselves out in rural spaces; and rural spaces themselves will be reintegrated or otherwise into their wider city- regions. This has implications for, as an example, the development of EU rural policy. This is supposedly becoming more ‘place-based’ and therefore spatially integrative, but it is unclear how it will align itself to the broader, post-carbon demands of EU policies on the one hand, or the relationships with wider regional innovation systems on the other. We would argue that these current discussions need to be informed by the concepts and debates contained in this paper; especially how a more vibrant rural-based eco – economy can be stimulated by policy development in Europe. different notions of time, space and place.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS)
Business (Including Economics)
Geography and Planning (CPLAN)
Sustainable Places Research Institute (PLACES)
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Additional Information: BRASS Working Paper Series No.60 ISBN: 9781906644369
Publisher: Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS), Cardiff University
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2017 14:04
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/23694

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