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Chapter 16 Aquaponics for the Anthropocene: Towards a 'Sustainability First' Agenda

5 months ago

23 min read

James Gott, Rolf Morgenstern, and Maja Turnšek

Abstract 'The Anthropocene' has emerged as a unique moment in earth history where humanity recognises its devastating capacity to destabilise the planetary processes upon which it depends. Modern agriculture plays a central role in this problematic. Food production innovations are needed that exceed traditional paradigms of the Green Revolution whilst at the same time are able to acknowledge the complexity arising from the sustainability and food security issues that mark our times. Aquaponics is one technological innovation that promises to contribute much towards these imperatives. But this emergent field is in an early stage that is characterised by limited resources, market uncertainty, institutional resistance and high risks of failure—-a developmental environment where hype prevails over demonstrated outcomes. Given this situation, the aquaponics research community potentially holds an important place in the development path of this technology. But the field needs to craft a coherent and viable vision for this technology that can move beyond misplaced techno-optimist accounts. Turning to sustainability science and STS research, we discuss the urgent need to develop what we call a 'critical sustainability knowledge' for aquaponics, giving pointers for possible ways forward, which include (1) expanding aquaponic research into an interdisciplinary research domain, (2) opening research up to participatory approaches in real-world contexts and (3) pursuing a solution-oriented approach for sustainability and food security outcomes.

Keywords Anthropocene · Green Revolution · Techno-optimism · STS research (Science, Technology and Society research)


J. Gott

Geography and Environment, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK

R. Morgenstern

Department of Agriculture, University of Applied Sciences of South Westphalia, Soest, Germany

M. Turnšek

Faculty of Tourism, University of Maribor, Brežice, Slovenia

© The Author(s) 2019 393

S. Goddek et al. (eds.), Aquaponics Food Production Systems,


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