TRANS-AG: Governing TRANSformation in AGricultural Systems


Start date: 1 April, 2024 End date: 31 August, 2028 Project type: Research projects in countries with targeted development cooperation (earlier Window 2) Project code: 24-M01-DIIS Countries: Vietnam Thematic areas: Agricultural production, Climate change, State building, governance and civil society, Lead institution: Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), Denmark Partner institutions: Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry (HUAF), Vietnam University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark Project coordinator: Lily Lindegaard Total grant: 10,025,830 DKK

Project summary

In the TRANS-AG research programme, a multidisciplinary team of Vietnamese and Danish researchers provides novel research on agricultural transformation in response to climate and environmental challenges. Across the globe, agricultural systems are under enormous pressure due to climate change, while also driving biodiversity loss and resource degradation. At the same time, these systems are essential for the survival and wellbeing of billions of people, particularly in developing economies. Yet we are already witnessing initial breakdown in agricultural systems, which will only worsen as climate change intensifies.

Addressing these interlinked challenges requires major transformations, or fundamental system changes, in agricultural systems. However, research and policy on transformation has long focused on technical solutions. These are important, but can fail to address issues of unsustainable or unequal development pathways as well as the political aspects of major system change. This is where TRANS-AG steps in, directing attention to governance, i.e. the way decisions are made and implemented. This approach stresses the political aspects of transformation, which involves changes in political relations, decision-making processes, and approaches to human-nature relationships. Improving our understanding of how governance shapes transformational change and outcomes is crucial for researchers, policymakers and practitioners in order to support sustainable and socially inclusive change.

TRANS-AG illuminates these issues by studying agricultural transformation efforts in Vietnam, a country experiencing many of these challenges first-hand. Specifically, we study ongoing major changes in lowland rice and pig production systems – two cornerstones of Vietnamese agriculture. We do so in two different provinces of North Central Vietnam that have similar environmental conditions, but where governance approaches differ. We gather data from national and sub-national policy-makers, planners and implementers, as well as from farmers and non-state actors important to the agricultural sector. Our research is built on a participatory, co-production approach, in which these different actors are actively involved in the research process, including through workshops and trainings. Our findings will support a new generation of transformation research, as well as strengthen policy work and interventions for sustainable, inclusive agricultural transformation in practice.

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