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Socially Overlaid Networks as Key Actors in Green Energy Businesses in Rural Areas


  • Mikkola, Minna
  • Kahiluoto, Helena


For about two decades, sustainability discourse has been operating as a public discourse, stressing reformist and imaginary features of sustainable development (Dryzek, 1997; WCED, 1987). This discourse has its political ‘wing’, emphasising societal orientations for renewal of production and consumption towards sustainability at large (CEC, 1997, 1999; COM, 2001; European Parliament, 2002). Indeed, European food system seems to call for developmental measures, as one fifth to circa half of all categories of environmental impacts are caused by the food system (Tukker et al., 2006) and within this system, meat and dairy sector seem to be responsible to large extent for eutrophication and climate change (Weidema et al., 2008). To effect changes towards increased sustainability, the market has been suggested to operate as a level of playing field for sustainable food (Defra, 2010; HM Government, 2010). It is often interpreted as organic or local (CEC, 2004, 2008; Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 of 28 June 2007; Nordic Ecolabelling of Restaurants, 2009) but currently sustainable food is seen to embrace “contribution made by farming on sustainability, climate change, food security and development, biodiversity, animal welfare, and water scarcity” (CEC, 2008, 6). While most consumers do not seem to be willing to pay more for sustainable food, the “concerned consumers” (Weatherell et al., 2003) represent a principled orientation according to which there is more to food than price only (Seyfang, 2006; Weatherell et al., 2003). While communication of these aspects of sustainability seems to present a governance problem within the food system, farmers and manufacturers are already engaged in both organic production mode and various self regulation schemes representing more flexible and faster adjustment in a dynamic market environment (CEC, 2008). “Instead of seeing these demands as a burden, EU farmers have a real opportunity to turn them to their advantage – by delivering exactly what consumers want, clearly distinguishing their products in the marketplace, and gaining premiums in return” (CEC, 2008, 4). Self regulation initiatives regarding climate change and thereby greenhouse gas emissions of foods seem to present so far broad and miscellaneous applications of measurement, interpretation and communication practices (Usva et al., 2009).

Suggested Citation

  • Mikkola, Minna & Kahiluoto, Helena, 2011. "Socially Overlaid Networks as Key Actors in Green Energy Businesses in Rural Areas," 2011 International European Forum, February 14-18, 2011, Innsbruck-Igls, Austria 122017, International European Forum on Innovation and System Dynamics in Food Networks.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:iefi11:122017

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Snäkin, Juha-Pekka & Muilu, Toivo & Pesola, Tuomo, 2010. "Bioenergy decision-making of farms in Northern Finland: Combining the bottom-up and top-down perspectives," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 6161-6171, October.
    2. World Commission on Environment and Development,, 1987. "Our Common Future," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780192820808.
    3. Adriaan Perrels & Kirsi Usva & Mikko Hongisto & Merja Saarinen & Ari Nissinen & Juha-Matti Katajajuuri & Pauliina Nurmi & Sirpa Kurppa & Sirkka Koskela, 2009. "Towards certified carbon footprints of products - a road map for data production - Climate Bonus project report (WP3)," Research Reports 143:2, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).
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