STS - conferences, IST2012

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Pathways for transformation to sustainable nutrient management
Helena Kahiluoto

Last modified: 2012-03-20


Kahiluoto H.1), Kuisma M.1), Kuokkanen A.2), Kivelä R. 3), Linnanen L.2)

1) MTT Agrifood Research Finland, Lönnrotinkatu 5, FI-50100 Mikkeli, Finland

2) Lappeenranta University of Technology, Skinnarilankatu 34, FI-53850 Lappeenranta, Finland

3) Susinno Oy, Askonkatu 9 E, FI-15100 Lahti, Finland

Three major interacting distortions in the Earth system – climate change, biodiversity loss and escalation of the nitrogen cycle – have already transgressed their planetary boundaries and escalation of the phosphorus cycle is on the threshold. Peak oil and peak phosphorus interfere with the limits to growth of the prevailing linear nutrient flows, and food security is at risk. Major system innovations are required at numerous levels of the socio-technical systems to transform these dynamics. The agrifood system is in the core of these changes. As an application of the transition management framework, we create contrasting back-casting scenarios starting with various visions of sustainable nutrient economy. A corresponding range of plausible pathways for the case of Finland will be enlightened in the European and global context. The focus of the scenarios varies on the strategic axes of closed loop/cascade - eco-efficiency, market led - public driven and local/regional - global. The process is fed by and interacting with a transition arena involving relevant actors in a sequence of facilitated, documented workshops, and with a quantitative assessment of nutrient flows and their major leakages. Key determinants of the transition processes are identified at various system levels and enabling system shifts sketched for each inherently coherent scenario. Examples of the determinants focused on are fertilization strategy, waste management system, national fertilizer legislation, the agri-environmental scheme of European Union and a framework for global trading of nutrient related ecosystem services. The preliminary contrasting scenarios will be presented and methodological issues on managing the process will be discussed.