Understanding challenges and opportunities for future food and nutrition security
It is well established that the food system is globally integrated and that this system is subject to a wide range of drivers of change including climate, economic concentration and market structure, financial power, resource competition, marginalization, property rules, geo-political shifts, consumer preferences, consumption patterns and nutritional transition. These drivers of change affect how food flows through this system, at all stages from production to consumption (Yakovleva, 2007; Tansey, 1994). It is important to obtain a comprehensive picture of the effects of these drivers, as well as to systematically assess the vulnerabilities of the food system (pressures, hazards, shocks and stresses), in the context of socio-economic, behavioural, technological, institutional and agro-ecological change. To do so will enhance understandings of the new challenges and opportunities that the food sector will face in the future (Ericksen, 2007; Maxwell and Slater, 2003). Due to the intersectional nature of food –operating in biophysical, socio-cultural, economic, political and technological contexts- food system vulnerabilities should be assessed from a range of perspectives (Sobal et al., 1998; Tansey, 1994). In addition, it has been argued that institutional processes and practices are an inherent part of the food system and as such, any analysis of food system vulnerabilities should interrogate regulative, normative and cognitive institutions and their role in coordinating the dynamic interplay between food system activities, actors and assets (Geels, 2004). As well as investigating system vulnerabilities, it is imperative to assess where opportunities and resilience lie for food and nutrition security. In this context, it is necessary to be cognizant of changing socio-economic, behavioural, technological, institutional and agro-ecological circumstances (Warr, 2014). The concept of adaptive capacity (towards greater sustainability) is one which holds great potential and recent research has utilised dynamic modelling tools and scenario design to test adaption strategies for transitions towards greater food and nutrition security in the short, medium and long term (Eakin and Luers, 2006).
Potential topics might include:
- Which drivers of food system change have been identified in a given place, and how might the geography of that place have contributed to the uniqueness of these drivers?
- How and why do food system vulnerabilities differ across space and place, and what are the implications of this?
- Across scales, which institutional processes and practices impact on food systems and which interventions are most urgent at each scale?
- Which potentially or actually changing political or economic conditions are relevant for the food system of a given place and how might these changes be responded to, to either mitigate or enhance their effects?
- In the current context, characterised by polarised debates and food and nutrition security perspectives, which governance characteristics and configurations can help progress on delivering good food for all?
- What is the potential for modelling tools and scenario design (or other innovative ‘futures’ methodological approaches) to enhance sustainability in the food system?
This session is co-sponsored by the Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group, the Culture and Political Ecology Specialty Group, and the Rural Geography Specialty Group.
Interested participants should submit a 250 word abstract to the organiser Dr. Brídín Carroll (University College Dublin, Ireland) via email: email@example.com by November 15th. Those who are accepted for participation in this session will be notified the following day, November 16th, and must register for the conference and submit their abstract to the AAG online by November 17th.
- Eakin, H., and Luers, A. L. (2006). Assessing the vulnerability of social-environmental systems, Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 31(1), 365–394
- Ericksen, P. J. (2007). Conceptualizing food systems for global environmental change research. Global Environmental Change, 18(1), 234–245
- Geels, F. W. (2004). From sectoral systems of innovation to socio-technical systems, Research Policy, 33(6-7), 897–920
- Maxwell, S. and Slater, R. (2003). Food policy old and new, Development Policy Review, 21, 5–6, 531–53
- Sobal, J., Khan, L. K. and Bisogni, C. (1998). A conceptual model of the food and nutrition system, Social Science & Medicine (1982), 47(7), 853–63
- Tansey, G. (1994). Food policy in a changing food system, British Food Journal, 96(8), 4–12
- Yakovleva, N. (2007). Measuring the sustainability of the food supply chain: A case study of the UK, Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 9(1), 75–100
- Warr, P. (2014). Food insecurity and its determinants, Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 58(4), 519-537