Inclusive responsibility

“An inclusively responsible food and agriculture system would encourage society to focus on agro-ecological sustainability as an integral part of overall ecosystem sustainability based on planetary boundaries. Such a system would place importance on quality of life, pluralism, equity and justice for all. It would emphasise the health, well-being, sovereignty, dignity and rights of farmers, consumers and all other stakeholders, as well as of nonhuman animals and the natural world. The concept of ‘inclusive responsibility’ is ultimately based on an understanding of the interconnectedness of nature and the place and responsibility of human society within it.” 

In our view, the multiple connected crises we are facing ultimately reflect an underlying crisis of ethics and values. For example our economic system, which is a huge driver of these crises, is based on competition, individualism, colonisation, racism, patriarchy, extraction, materialism, mass consumerism, infinite growth, accumulation, inequality, injustice, exclusion, exploitation and commodification of humans, other animals and the earth.

If we want truly meaningful and systemic solutions to the root causes, we need to build alternatives to this system. Whatever political, economic, food, agriculture and other systems we create, must be underpinned by an ethical framework of responsibility aligned with universal human values. These values, such as love, compassion, empathy, care, honesty, integrity, trust, transparency, inclusion, diversity, pluralism, connection, collaboration, participation, peace, nonviolence, equity, justice for all beings (human and nonhuman) and sustainability, need to underpin the new systems, otherwise we will keep on recreating the same problems.

In our view these changes should be guided by the concept of ‘inclusive responsibility’. This concept reflects a move towards an alternative ethical framework based in these universal values. It also encompasses the six key themes distilled from the chapters in the book. The core values of such a framework could be summarised as: inclusion, interdependence, pluralism, justice, equity, and care.

The idea of inclusive responsibility is to integrate and apply this ethical framework at every level of the food and agriculture system, from local to global, from production to consumption, from individual to community and society. The idea of inclusive responsibility is also to apply this ethical framework ‘inclusively’ i.e. not just to humans, but also to other animals and the planet. In addition the idea of inclusive responsibility highlights our individual and collective responsibility to contribute to changing the food and agriculture system. In our view if we were all to apply this concept consistently and comprehensively, we would be on the path to transforming our food and agriculture system into one that is truly sustainable and just for all.

An inclusively responsible food and agriculture paradigm would:

  1. be ecologically sustainable and multifunctional
  2. be relevant for smallholders, their innovation and development strategies;
  3. meet the increasing need for sustainable, nutritious and healthy whole-food plant-based diets;
  4. integrate into the wider social movements resisting the corporate food regime and fighting for local autonomy, food sovereignty, and land and seed justice;
  5. respect and protect the rights of all sentient beings, both human and nonhuman, to live free from human oppression, exploitation and harm; and
  6. respect and protect the rights of nature based on a duty of care towards the Earth.

Read more about what the practical application of inclusive responsibility might mean for our food and agriculture system here.