Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 16, Issue 8, pp 2171–2185

Developing an integrated framework to assess agri-food systems and its application in the Ecuadorian Andes

  • Virginia Vallejo-Rojas
  • Federica Ravera
  • Marta G. Rivera-Ferre
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10113-015-0887-x

Cite this article as:
Vallejo-Rojas, V., Ravera, F. & Rivera-Ferre, M.G. Reg Environ Change (2016) 16: 2171. doi:10.1007/s10113-015-0887-x


Agri-food systems assessment can be performed following official and alternative framings, each linked to different objects of study, methods of analysis, and policy responses. Alternative frames conceptualize agri-food systems as the integration and interaction of humans and the agro-environment (i.e., as socio-ecological systems). This conceptualization allows studying the cross-level, cross-scale, and nonlinear interactions within and between the components of the system and help assess policy proposals, such as food sovereignty, in a more systemic way. To facilitate this, we link reflections and methodologies from complex system thinking and vulnerability studies applied to agri-food systems to propose an integrated framework of assessment, which links the agroecological context and the social function of agriculture, considering actor’s agency and institutional processes. This framework is suitable to analyze agri-food systems in fragile and marginal environments such as the Andean region. We apply the framework to assess vulnerability of local agri-food systems to global change in the southern Ecuadorian Andes, taking into account the role of peasant institutions (agroecological associations, comunas) and indigenous culture. The framework also allows understanding how agri-food policies change the configuration of agri-food systems and determines whether these changes are consistent with communities’ livelihoods reproduction.


Agri-food systems Andes Food sovereignty Policy analysis Social–ecological systems Vulnerability 

Supplementary material

10113_2015_887_MOESM1_ESM.docx (93 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 93 kb)
10113_2015_887_MOESM2_ESM.doc (108 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOC 108 kb)
10113_2015_887_MOESM3_ESM.doc (87 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (DOC 87 kb)
10113_2015_887_MOESM4_ESM.doc (111 kb)
Supplementary material 4 (DOC 111 kb)

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
National Secretariat for Science, Technology and Innovation (SENESCYT)
    Alliance 4University
      Autonomous University of Madrid

        Copyright information

        © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

        Authors and Affiliations

        • Virginia Vallejo-Rojas
          • 1
        • Federica Ravera
          • 2
          • 4
        • Marta G. Rivera-Ferre
          • 3
        1. 1.Center of Agri-food Economy and DevelopmentParc Mediterrani de la TecnologiaCastelldefelsSpain
        2. 2.Socio-Ecological Systems Laboratory, Department of EcologyAutonomous University of MadridMadridSpain
        3. 3.Research Group Inclusive Societies, Policies and Communities, UST, Chair Agroecology and Food SystemsUniversity of Vic-Central University of CataloniaVicSpain
        4. 4.CREAFCataloniaSpain

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