Stikstofcrisis iets van boeren? Slechts een teken van wat ons allen te wachten staat

Opiniestuk

Bram Büscher en Han Wiskerke

Nederlandse boeren hebben keihard gewerkt om zich in een aantoonbaar onduurzaam landbouwsysteem overeind te houden. Dit zichzelf ondermijnend succes is nu zichtbaar aan zijn einde. Boeren moeten perspectief krijgen om naar een duurzaam systeem om te schakelen. En wetenschap en politiek moeten hieruit lessen trekken voor de nog veel grotere maatschappelijke omwenteling die ons te wachten staat. De stikstofcrisis is het spreekwoordelijke topje van de ijsberg van wat ons allen te wachten staat.

Wij zijn twee Wageningense hoogleraren die vanuit de sociale wetenschappen verschillende kanten van de mens-natuur relatie bestuderen: vanuit landbouw en voedsel (Wiskerke) en vanuit natuurbehoud, biodiversiteit en klimaat (Büscher). In beide domeinen zijn de problemen groot en is de noodzaak van een structurele transitie al lange tijd volstrekt evident. Sterker nog, deze problemen hebben dezelfde grondoorzaak en moeten dus verbonden worden zodat we niet telkens achter de feiten aan blijven hollen, als landbouwsector, maar ook als maatschappij als geheel. Gelukkig is er een rijke traditie van kennis waarop we kunnen bouwen.

In vele publicaties volgend op ‘Silent Spring’ van Rachel Carson uit 1962, ‘Grenzen aan de Groei’ van de Club van Rome uit 1972, en ‘Bouwstenen voor een Geïntegreerde Landbouw’ van de Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid (WRR) uit 1984 wordt geconcludeerd dat de productivistische landbouw een doodlopend weg is. Één van de stellingen in Han’s proefschrift uit 1997 was dat het tegengaan van milieumaatregelen in de landbouw door landbouworganisaties als belangenbehartiging wordt gepresenteerd maar eigenlijk belangenverkwanseling genoemd zou moeten worden. Simpelweg omdat milieuproblemen worden gebagatelliseerd en de aanpak ervan als strijdig wordt gezien met de heilige economische graal: de groei van het Bruto National Product (BNP). Met als gevolg dat boeren moedwillig een systeem eigen wordt gemaakt wat onduurzaam en dus onvolhoudbaar is gebleken. En zie welke kosten er nu gemaakt moeten worden om slechts één van de symptomen van een onduurzaam landbouwsysteem – de stikstofcrisis – aan te pakken. Wat de stikstofcrisis overduidelijk maakt is dat hoe langer je wacht met ingrijpen, hoe pijnlijker het wordt. Oftewel: zachte heelmeesters maken uiterst stinkende wonden.

Natuurlijk zijn er conservatieve commentatoren die zeggen dat de huidige crises totaal onverwacht komt. Dat de boeren dit niet aan zagen komen en dat het allemaal oneerlijk is. Maar dit is onwelkome afleiding van wat de boeren te wachten staat: een pijnlijke doch noodzakelijke transitie. Gelukkig zijn er ook genoeg boeren die de transitie al aan het maken zijn en gezamenlijk (en met anderen) met plannen komen voor een duurzame en volhoudbare landbouw, waarbij de stikstofproblematiek in samenhang met andere problemen (o.a. klimaatverandering, beschikbaarheid en kwaliteit van water, biodiversiteit) wordt aangepakt. Voorbeelden hiervan zijn de oproep voor een nationaal ruimte- en landbouwakkoord van de Initiatiefgroep ‘Regie op Ruimte’ uit 2020 en het ‘Groenboerenplan’ uit 2022. Hierin zitten volop aanknopingspunten voor een omslag én voor perspectief voor boeren en tuinders.

Dit soort initiatieven zijn cruciaal en moeten nu rap opgevolgd worden in de praktijk. Niet alleen om de boeren een perspectief te geven en om naar een duurzame landbouw in Nederland te gaan. Maar ook als vliegwiel voor de veel grotere transitie die ons als maatschappij te wachten staat. Als we kijken naar de biodiversiteits- en klimaatcrises, dan zien we namelijk hetzelfde als de stikstofcrisis: halfslachtige maatregelen die de problemen niet aanpakken maar naar de marges van een onduurzaam economisch systeem verwijzen. De klimaatcrisis is al van dien omvang dat de Parijs-doelen niet meer gehaald gaan worden, met alle gevolgen van dien. De biodiversiteitscrisis volgt daarop met massa-uitstervingen die de basis van onze globale maatschappij weg zal slaan. Ook dit is lang en breed bekend. Bram’s proefschrift uit 2009 concludeerde onomwonden dat neoliberaal biodiversiteit- en klimaat beleid in een systeem van eeuwige groei bijdraagt aan het probleem, niet aan de oplossing.

En toch blijven veel van onze leiders volhouden dat met wat meer efficiëntie, innovatie en SMART technologie we de problemen op gaan lossen. We worden dus als maatschappij even voor de gek gehouden als de boeren: gedwongen om te overleven en floreren in een systeem dat evident onhoudbaar is. Een systeem dat niet alleen tot angstaanjagende milieucrises heeft geleid, maar ook tot maatschappelijke crises rondom ongelijkheid, identiteit en zelfs existentie. We stevenen dus rechtstreeks af op een veel groter maatschappelijk ravijn.

De vraag is: gaan we het zover laten komen? Blijven we kleine pleistertjes plakken op een steeds groter wordende wond? Of gaan we eindelijk de al-aanwezige schat van echt structurele oplossingen inzetten? Een kleine greep: weg met fossiele subsidies, afschaffen exportkredietverzekeringen, drastisch afschalen van vervuilende industrie en aanverwante consumptie, drastisch inperken van reclame, natuur-positieve industrie en activiteiten drastisch ondersteunen, instellen minimum en maximum inkomen, en vooral weg van BNP als indicator van welzijn of vooruitgang.

Klinkt radicaal? Niet echt. Radicaal is moedwillig een groep zoals de boeren of zelfs de hele maatschappij richting een existentiële crisis drijven. Want laten we ons niet vergissen: met betrekking tot de grotere maatschappelijke en milieucrises zijn we allemaal boeren. Door de boeren perspectief te bieden richting een duurzame landbouw kunnen we onszelf ook perspectief bieden richting een duurzame wereld.

Read the English version here

Vacancies for 2 research positions: DEADLINE Dec 8.

We posted last week that we would be opening two research positions in the Rural Sociology Group

The vacancies are now officially open.

Mapping gender-responsive rural policies

Citizen Engagement Strategies to Support Food Sharing

All information and criteria, including deadlines, are available through the links above.

Check this space: Future jobs

Over the next few months, the Rural Sociology Group will be hiring research assistants, PhDs, and PostDocs.

Be sure to follow us to keep up-to-date and informed on these exciting opportunities.

Two vacancies are already open for research positions starting February 1, 2023. These positions are ideal for recent MSc graduates. Note the deadline to submit is 8 December 2022.

Research Position: Citizen Engagement Strategies to support Food Sharing (Deadline 8 Dec 2022)

Click here to apply

The Rural Sociology Group of Wageningen University is looking for a Research Assistant to work on citizen-engagement strategies to support food sharing initiatives. This research is part of a 4-year EU-funded project.

The position is for 16 months at 0.8 FTE and will be based in the Rural Sociology Group in Wageningen University.

The start date is 1 February 2023, and the position will end on 30 May 2024.

In this exciting research position:

  • You will undertake an independent, systematic desk review of social norms, cultures, local conditions, and citizen engagement around food sharing innovation.
  • You will undertake a SWOT analysis of the citizen engagement strategies.
  • You will interview at least 15 stakeholders to validate and expand on the review.
  • You will work as part of a team to translate the insights from this review into user-facing tools.
  • You will also contribute to an EU database of food sharing initiatives.

We ask

We are looking for a candidate with:

  • A Passion for food sharing and citizenship engagement.
  • BSc (and preferably an MSc) in a social science discipline, ideally with a background in food studies and an understanding of the kinds of social and cultural norms and local conditions that shape food sharing.
  • Experience doing systematic literature reviews and conducting semi-structured interviews
  • Strong analytic and communication skills, ability to process complex information and translate it into accessible and usable formats.
  • Fluency in English is required, ability to speak Dutch, Spanish and/or Italian is an advantage.

More information
Additional inquiries should be addressed to Dr Jessica Duncan (jessica.duncan@wur.nl) with the subject CULTIVATE Researcher.

Do you want to apply?

Applications can be submitted through the Wageningen University Vacancy Website.


To apply, you will need to upload the following:

  • Letter of motivation, clarifying your interest in the position and research experience
  • A current Curriculum Vitae, including names and contact details of two referees
  • A writing sample (e.g. a chapter from your thesis, blog post, or assignment from a class)

Please note that only applications sent through the online application process will be taken into consideration.

Important Dates

This vacancy will be listed up to and including  8 December 2022. 

The job interviews will be scheduled on 16 December 2022.

Candidates are expected to start the position 1 February 2023.

We offer

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “Best University” in the Netherlands for the 18th consecutive time.

Equal opportunities
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organization and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. For more information please go to our inclusivity page. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.

Wageningen University and Research
The mission of Wageningen University and Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University, and the specialized research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With its roughly 30 branches, 7.200 employees, and 13.200 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organizations in its domain. An integrated approach to problems and cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of Wageningen’s unique approach. WUR has been named Best Employer in the Education category for 2019-2020.

The Rural Sociology Group (RSO)
A more detailed profile of the Rural Sociology Group can be found in its 75th Anniversary book ‘On meaningful diversity: past, present and future of Wageningen rural sociology’.
 

Central to the research program of the Rural Sociology is a relational approach to transformation processes, explored from the perspective of the everyday life of people, with a focus on agrarian and rural change, food provisioning, and place-based development. These processes are studied from a range of critical perspectives (e.g. interpretative and micro-sociological perspectives, cultural political economy, or governmentality studies). We actively engage in interdisciplinary (including collaborations with natural scientists), multi-method and multi-stakeholder approaches. A common denominator in our research is the focus on actors, agency, the institutionalization of practices, differential development paths, and political organization.


Our mission is to contribute to the development of sustainable and socially acceptable modes of farming, food provisioning, and rural development, which foster social and spatial justice. Through our research we attempt to un-familiarize the familiar and undertake critical analyses, but, importantly, also be transformative by engaging in the exploration of new practices and by showing a diversity of credible options beyond dominant understandings and constellations. A key characteristic of our research program is its threefold relevance: it should contribute to the scientific development of our field and scientific discipline(s), inform policymaking and provide support for practitioners.

The Rural Sociology Group is embedded in the sub-department Space, Place & Society (SPS)  together with two other chair groups: Health & Society (HSO) and Sociology of Development and Change (SDC). Within SPS the groups share administrative support and collaborate in education. Together with the Cultural Geography group the sub-department Space, Place and Society has founded the Centre for Space, Place and Society (CSPS), which aims to advance critical-constructive scholarship within the social sciences with a particular focus on issues of socio-spatial inequalities and social and environmental justice. Within the CSPS the chair groups participate in research and PhD supervision and training.

More information about Wageningen University, the Rural Sociology Group, the sub-department SPS and CSPS can be obtained through one of the following links.


Research Position: Mapping gender-responsive rural policies (Deadline 8 Dec 2022)

Click here to apply

This is a pre-vacancy announcement for an exciting research position in the Rural Sociology Group.

The Rural Sociology Group of Wageningen University is looking for a Researcher to work on a comprehensive mapping of gender-responsive rural policies across the EU. This research is part of a 4-year EU-funded project (SWIFT).

The position is for 10 months at 0.8 FTE and will be based in the Rural Sociology Group in Wageningen University.


In this exciting research position :

  • You will lead a systematic review of academic and grey literature to map and assess gender-mainstreaming and gender responsiveness in EU policy and law, pertaining to innovation and rural communities.
  • You will undertake a SWOT analysis of the identified strategies from the perspective of rural women and innovation.
  • You will interview relevant project partners and stakeholders to validate and expand on the review.
  • You will work as part of a team to translate the insights into an accessible report.
  • There are also opportunities to develop the work into an academic article.
  • You will work closely with project partners (especially at Oxfam Belgium, and BOKU in Austria).

We ask

We are looking for a candidate with:

  • A passion for agroecology and gender-based approaches.
  • An understanding of the challenges within the current food system (inequalities, climate change…) and the need for transformation.
  • A BSc (ideally an MSc) in a social science discipline (e.g. sociology, food studies, feminist studies).
  • Familiarity with agricultural and rural policies in a European context. Knowledge of the Common Agricultural Policy is an advantage.
  • Experience conducting systematic literature reviews and interviewing stakeholders.
  • Strong analytic and communication skills, ability to process complex information and translate it into accessible and usable formats.
  • Fluency in English. Other languages are an advantage.

Key dates

This vacancy will be listed up to and including 8 December, 2022. 

The job interviews will be scheduled 16 December 2022.

Candidates are expected to start the position1 February 2023.

More information
Additional inquiries should be addressed to Dr Jessica Duncan (jessica.duncan@wur.nl) with the subject SWIFT Researcher.

We offer

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “Best University” in the Netherlands for the 18th consecutive time.


Do you want to apply?
Applications can be submitted through the Wageningen University Vacancy Website.

To apply, you will need to upload the following:

  • Letter of motivation, clarifying your interest in the position and research experience
  • A current Curriculum Vitae, including names and contact details of two referees
  • A writing sample (e.g. a chapter from your thesis, a blog entry, an essay from a course)

Please note that only applications sent through the online application button can be taken into consideration.


 Equal opportunities
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organization and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. For more information please go to our inclusivity page. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.

Wageningen University and Research
The mission of Wageningen University and Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University, and the specialized research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With its roughly 30 branches, 7.200 employees, and 13.200 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organizations in its domain. An integrated approach to problems and cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of Wageningen’s unique approach. WUR has been named Best Employer in the Education category for 2019-2020.

The Rural Sociology Group (RSO)

A more detailed profile of the Rural Sociology Group can be found in its 75th Anniversary book ‘On meaningful diversity: past, present and future of Wageningen rural sociology’.

Central to the research program of the Rural Sociology Group is a relational approach to transformation processes, explored from the perspective of the everyday life of people, with a focus on agrarian and rural change, food provisioning, and place-based development. These processes are studied from a range of critical perspectives (e.g. interpretative and micro-sociological perspectives, cultural political economy, or governmentality studies). We actively engage in interdisciplinary (including collaborations with natural scientists), multi-method and multi-stakeholder approaches. A common denominator in our research is the focus on actors, agency, the institutionalization of practices, differential development paths, and political organization.

Our mission is to contribute to the development of sustainable and socially acceptable modes of farming, food provisioning, and rural development, which foster social and spatial justice. Through our research we attempt to un-familiarize the familiar and undertake critical analyses, but, importantly, also be transformative by engaging in the exploration of new practices and by showing a diversity of credible options beyond dominant understandings and constellations. A key characteristic of our research program is its threefold relevance: it should contribute to the scientific development of our field and scientific discipline(s), inform policymaking and provide support for practitioners.

The Rural Sociology Group is embedded in the sub-department Space, Place & Society (SPS)  together with two other chair groups: Health & Society (HSO) and Sociology of Development and Change (SDC). Within SPS the groups share administrative support and collaborate in education. Together with the Cultural Geography group the sub-department Space, Place and Society has founded the Centre for Space, Place and Society (CSPS), which aims to advance critical-constructive scholarship within the social sciences with a particular focus on issues of socio-spatial inequalities and social and environmental justice. Within the CSPS the chair groups participate in research and PhD supervision and training.

More information about Wageningen University, the Rural Sociology Group, the sub-department SPS and CSPS can be obtained through one of the following links.