TRUEPATH: TRansforming UnsustainablE PATHways in agricultural frontiers: articulating microfinance plus with local institutional change for sustainability in Nicaragua
The project addresses the global-local institutional dynamics that generates the socially and environmentally unsustainable cattle development pathway. In Latin America, this pathway is a main driver of deforestation, contributing to climate change, the destruction of critical biodiversity stocks and the dispossession of indigenous people. The research specifically focusses on the agricultural frontier around the Bosawas Nature Reserve in Northern Nicaragua and consists of an action-research process in cooperation with the microfinance organization Fondo de Desarrollo Local and the environmental NGO Centro Humboldt.
The project analyzes the potential of a ‘Green Microfinance Plus’ program (loans + technical assistance + Payments for Ecosystem Services), and connects to broader reflections in local deliberative fora promoted by the project and a citizen science approach to local climate data generation and use. In terms of research methodology, a multidisciplinary mixed methods set-up combines inputs from development sociology and economics with the Agrarian Systems approach, and makes use of an original simulation game informed by local data. The research aims to co-identify in-roads for policies of ‘institutional entrepreneurship’, offering opportunities to affect relevant institutional processes to transform today’s detrimental pathway in the direction of more sustainable, equitable and climate-sensible agriculture, less dependent on deforestation and cheap land. The objective is to develop scientific outputs and policy proposals (in particular also for environmentally responsible rural finance) that contribute to change towards sustainability in the Nicaraguan agricultural frontier and beyond.
Project leader: Prof. J. Bastiaensen, University of Antwerp (Belgium)