What do working conditions in the meat industry have to do with a sustainability transformation?

For us, too, it’s not always just about manure. Taking into account complex interrelationships in the agri-food system, we also look at other aspects that are relevant in a sustainability transformation. In a scientific article, published in the first issue of GAIA in 2021, Jonathan Friedrich, Jana Zscheischler and Heiko Faust therefore discuss the learnings from the Corona pandemic for the design of socio-ecological transformation processes. Especially due to the increased cases of Covid-19 in some meat processing plants, it becomes clear that certain groups of people are more vulnerable to phenomena of a crisis, such as a global pandemic, due to their living and working conditions. Since discourses around sustainability are often dominated by a so-called “green mainstream,” the realities of these people’s lives often fall short in public and scientific discussions. In order to fulfill the design mission of a socio-ecological transformation for the whole of society, it is therefore important to think about the realities of workers in e.g. the meat processing industry. However, this thinking can only happen if the mentioned environments are explored beforehand. The authors offer different conceptual approaches to these research perspectives. As a conclusion, they state that such thinking would also lead to society as a whole being less vulnerable – and more resilient – to future crises (such as extreme weather events caused by climate change and their consequences for society).

The article is published in English and can be read open access online at the following address: https://doi.org/10.14512/gaia.30.1.5