Realising a Just Transition in the Dutch Crop Farming Sector and the Role of Organic Agriculture within this Transition
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Introduction The Dutch crop farming sector and its widely utilised conventional agricultural practices contribute to global issues such as soil depletion, income inequality and poor working conditions, which clearly marks the need for a transition. Economic and environmental problems are frequently discussed but the notion of social justice within farming is often overlooked. Just Transition (JT) theory has extensively covered social justice topics within the energy sector but has not been applied to agriculture, a knowledge gap that this thesis addresses. (In)justices within the sector were identified and thereafter it was investigated how the injustices could potentially be overcome. Furthermore, organic agriculture (OA) is often praised for its performance on environmental and social indicators over conventional agriculture (CA). This thesis investigates what the role of organic agriculture is within the agricultural transition towards socially just practices. Theory Elkington’s (1997) Triple-Bottom Line was utilised to investigate the performance of OA compared to CA on environmental, economic, and social indicators. To identify (in)justices, the five most prevalent tenets of justice within JT theory, namely procedural, distributive, recognition, restorative, and cosmopolitanism justice, as well as eight justice principles created by Sovacool & Dworkin (2015) were utilised. Methods A case study of the Dutch crop farming sector was utilised, whereby semi-structured interviews supported by additional desk research formed the data collection methods. Results were analysed using NVivo. Results The numerous identified injustices ranged from unequal financial and procedural power distributions negatively directed to farmers, to recognition issues and worldwide out-competing of local producers. Furthermore, OA has undeniable social and environmental benefits such as biodiversity- and soil preservation and strengthening the financial positions of farmers, alongside social projects like care farms. It also has some downsides such as the fact it requires higher land use, which is detrimental in the Netherlands where land is scarce. Discussion The so-called Just Farming principles were created that guide with achieving socially just farming in countries with similar agricultural systems to the Netherlands. Limitations are answer biases, novelty issues and divergence of research questions. Future research possibilities include the application of JT in different sectors and bridging agricultural financial gaps. Conclusion Identified (in)justices were summed up in a table and recommendations on how to overcome the injustices were given. Furthermore, OA should be practised more in the Netherlands and contributes to social justice in agriculture, but broader action is needed to meaningfully improve social justice within the sector
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