Keywords: Colombia, critical natural capital, environmental valuation, geographical proximity, local agri-food systems, panela, sustainable agriculture, sustainable development, ecological economics, socio-economic dimensions, social development, technological innovation, food processing
Environmental impact of panela food-processing industry: sustainable agriculture and local agri-food production systems
Environmental valuation 'multi-stakeholder' processes, as advocated by ecological economics, often have a strong local character. Critical Natural Capital cannot be defined without referring to a given geographical scale, very often local in terms of the definition of the environmental resource at stake and the relevant stakeholders involved in the evaluation and decision process. In this setting, environmental valuation processes cannot be disentangled from socio-economic dimensions of local social development, as shown by various examples and especially by the one of local agri-food systems of panela production in specific areas of Colombia. While there exist cost-effective technological innovations that can reduce the ecological impact of the panela commodity chain, these innovations can be fully implemented only if the producers can rely on anticipations of the development of a market for quality biological panela that can be traced back to specific areas of production.