The 181st RIHN seminar

Date: October 7th, 2020 (Wednesday) 13:00 - 14:30
Place: Online
Title: "Developing transdisciplinarity for sustainable livestock farming: A cross-fertilization of concepts and methodologies, with a practical application for the Water-Energy-Livestock nexus"
Lecturer: Cyrille Rigolot(Visiting Research Fellow/Senior Researcher/Deputy Director UMR Territoires, Indonesia)

Developing transdisciplinarity for sustainable livestock farming: A cross-fertilization of concepts and methodologies, with a practical application for the Water-Energy-Livestock nexus

The livestock sector contributes significantly to main global environmental issues, such as climate change, biodiversity loss and water use. In the same time, livestock is crucial for livelihoods in many rural areas. In the coming decades, the evolution of the livestock sector toward sustainability will be complexified by several factors, such as: A projected growing demand for animal food worldwide (+70-80% by 2050); the effects of climate change on animal production; growing social concerns for animal welfare; ect. In this context, it has become increasingly clear that incremental adaptations based on technological and organizational fix will be unable by themselves to ensure the sustainability of livestock farming, and that “transformational adaptations” are needed (Herrero et al., 2015). Such adaptations correspond to radical systemic changes, typically involving a profound evolution of paradigms and worldviews (Rigolot, 2018). Transdisciplinarity can been seen as a candidate alternative paradigm, and it has become the general goal of my research to develop it conceptually and apply it practically to livestock farming related issues. To this aim, I am using a diversity of methodologies, including participatory approaches, conceptual and computer modelling, farm surveys and collaborations with artists. Lately, I have proposed an original conception of transdisciplinarity as a “way of being”, meaning that personal life of the researcher and her/his working or social environments are also continuously under transdisciplinary investigations, without any clear separation with a defined academic research domain (Rigolot, 2020, forthcoming). Following this conception, I am also committed to apply transdisciplinarity in my “management style”, formerly as the deputy director of an interdisciplinary research unit (UMR Territoires), and in my future responsibilities. At the level of the academic research community at large, the use of the term transdisciplinarity is growing fast in publications, however it still remains seldomly used in the general strategy of research institutions. In my understanding, RIHN could constitute an exemplary “avant-garde” tentative of mainstreaming transdisciplinarity at the level of a whole institution. During my three months fellowship, I will aim for a cross-fertilization of transdisciplinary concepts and methodologies (from RIHN and from my own experience), by the mean of two complementary research activities:

- First, I will perform an open inquiry with RIHN staff, based on two rounds of face-to-face meetings (starting with the deputy directors and the leaders of research programs and of specific research projects in October). I expect that this open inquiry will reveal promising synergies with significant added value (for example, between the concepts of lifeworlds (research program 3) and worldviews (Rigolot, 2018); or as regard a quantum conceptualization (Rigolot, 2019) of societal transformations (research program 1), ect.; - Second, I will put this “cross-fertilization” to the test of a practical collaboration related to the water-energy-food (WEF) nexus (Taniguchi et al., 2017; Lee et al., 2020). Globally, the livestock sector uses more than 80% of agricultural land and consumes about 33% of global water withdrawals, primarily for irrigation of feed crops (FAO, 2006). The impacts of livestock farming on water resource is a highly controversial topic though, notably because methods for the estimations of water use give wildly different results (for example, from 3 to 540 L to produce 1 kg of beef with Life Cycle Assessment; Doreau et al., 2012). To move the debate forward, a promising research frontier is to better differentiate “blue” and “green “water, in connection with spatially explicit land use at multiple scales. In this perspective, during the fellowship I will explore the multiscale WEF nexus developed by Taniguchi et al. (2020) through a livestock lens.

I hope my fellowship will generate fruitful insights and tangible outputs, through the production of reports, communications and publications. Moreover, I wish it could be a basis for further broader collaborations, as part of my upcoming stay at Tokyo’s Institute for Future Initiative (IFI) next year, and more generally in future international collaborative projects.

Contact: Core Project, SUZAKI E-mail