RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016


273 Connecting food system sustainability and resilience through a geographical lens (1): Resilient Food Systems 1
Affiliation Rural Geography Research Group
Food Geographies Working Group
Convenor(s) Damian Maye (University of Gloucestershire, UK)
James Kirwan (University of Gloucestershire, UK)
Chair(s) Damian Maye (University of Gloucestershire, UK)
Timetable Friday 02 September 2016, Session 1 (09:00 - 10:40)
Session abstract The aim of this session is to connect thinking and theoretical perspectives from resilience theory with food system sustainability approaches, discourses and assessment methodologies. Contributions from human and physical geography are encouraged, including evaluating the role and application of geographical perspectives and concepts that emphasise and apply resilience thinking in relation to geographies of food production and consumption. The external pressures driving the agri-food system are widely documented (e.g. climate change, price volatility, food insecurity, urbanisation), and procedures, processes and methods to evaluate food system sustainability well-known within agri-food geography (e.g. LCA, metabolic analysis, multi-criteria assessments, participatory analysis). However, critiques are emerging about the usefulness of sustainability as a framing concept for food system analysis. Missing within such assessments is an appreciation of the dynamic properties of sustainability performance and agri-food system transformation, and the need to link sustainability assessments to frameworks and approaches that capture change at a system level, as well as connect food provisioning with the use of key resources such as land, water and energy. Resilience thinking has much to offer in this regard, particularly through its focus on systems as having dynamic properties and its emphasis on drivers of change. Taking this perspective enables, for example, connections to be made between coping/adaption strategies and mechanisms, as well as ideas related to social and community resilience and resilience ethics. This session provides an opportunity to explore how resilience thinking can be applied to geographies of agri-food sustainability and transformation, thereby facilitating resilience and adaptation, across a range of geographical perspectives and scales. Papers might address one or more of the following themes: Applying resilience thinking and related concepts to issues including vulnerability, transition, risk management, adaptation, and transformation; Approaches to resilience, such as: socio-ecological resilience, system resilience, regional resilience, social resilience, community resilience, and farm-level resilience; Sustainability science, post-normal science and resilience thinking; Resilience perspectives as a means to ‘open up’ agri-food sustainability concepts; Collective responsibility and resilience ethics; Drivers of change and coping strategies; Case studies and methodologies that examine resilience across the food chain at a range of geographical scales and spatial contexts, including the Global North and the Global South; AFNs, civic food networks, urban agriculture and resilience; Connections between food, other key resources and resilience framings; The role of policy in promoting agri-food sustainability through resilience
Linked Sessions Connecting food system sustainability and resilience through a geographical lens (2): Resilient Food systems 2
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2016@rgs.org
Adapting a social-ecological resilience framework for food systems
Jennifer Hodbod (Arizona State University, USA)
Hallie Eakin (Arizona State University, USA)
The purpose of applying social-ecological resilience thinking to food systems is twofold: First, to define those factors that help achieve a state in which food security for all and at all scales is possible. Second, to provide insights into how to maintain the system in this desirable regime. However, the resilience of food systems is distinct from the broader conceptualizations of resilience in social-ecological systems because of the fundamentally normative nature of food systems: humans need food to survive, and thus system stability is typically a primary policy objective for food system management. However, society also needs food systems that can intensify sustainably i.e., feed everybody equitably, provide livelihoods and avoid environmental degradation while responding flexibly to shocks and uncertainty. Today's failure in meeting food security objectives can be interpreted as the lack of current governance arrangements to consider the full and differential dimensions of food system functions – economic, ecological and social – at appropriate scales: in other words, the multifunctionality of food. We focus on functional and response diversity as two key attributes of resilient, multifunctional food systems; respectively, the number of different functional groups and the diversity of types of responses to disturbances within a functional group. Achieving food security will require functional redundancy and enhanced response diversity, creating multiple avenues to fulfill all food system objectives. We use the 2013-15 drought in California to unpack the potential differences between managing for a single function – economic profit – and multiple functions.
Socio-ecological resilience across scales - food production and consumption in Kenya
Lena Bloemertz (University of Basel, Switzerland)
This presentation will address issues of socio-ecological resilience across scales, by looking at food production and consumption in Kenya. Agri-food systems in many parts of rural Africa are closely related to livelihood resilience and a complex web of rural-urban connections, thereby offering a specific opportunity of studying transformations in agri-food systems and their relation to larger societal change.
In order to discuss the impact of ongoing transformations in rural areas of Africa, changes in ecological, as well as social resilience and how they are related to each other will be discussed on different scales. The discussion on those relations will form the basis for a reflection on the utility of resilience as a concept for local and national evaluation and planning.
Reflexive governance, resilience ethics and changing understandings of food chain performance
James Kirwan (University of Gloucestershire, UK)
Damian Maye (University of Gloucestershire, UK)
Gianluca Brunori (University of Pisa, Italy)
There is a growing interest in the performance of food chains, which may have multiple dimensions, with understandings of performance often based on perceptions rather than realities; furthermore, these perceptions may be highly geographically and culturally contingent. This paper, in drawing on the findings of an EC-funded project GLAMUR, acknowledges the multiple meanings attributed to food chains by encompassing the perceptions of actors across four different spheres of debate (public, market, scientific and policy), as well as five dimensions (economic, social, environmental, health and ethical). The ethical dimension in relation to food chain performance tends to be normalised, discussed somewhat simplistically in terms of fair trade, labour relations and animal welfare. This paper seeks to go further than this, through examining the ethical component of the sustainability discourse as it is articulated (either implicitly or explicitly) across all five dimensions. Recognising ethics in this way facilitates understanding of how both individuals and organisations might be encouraged to be more reflexive and, in so doing, identify and negotiate their ethical responsibilities in relation to the performance of food chains.
The role of community self-organisation in transitions to resilient food systems
Moya Kneafsey (Coventry University, UK)
Luke Owen (Coventry University, UK)
Lopamudra P. Saxena (Coventry University, UK)
For those working within the agroecological paradigm, communities are regarded as sites where transformative pathways to food system resilience are implemented 'on the ground', and where transitions in peoples' lives physically take place (e.g. Kind 2008). In this context, 'self-organising' (SO) communities are understood as Complex Adaptive Systems (Espinosa et al 2011; Berkes & Ross 2013) and as active agents in their own well-being. Yet many critical questions remain about the extent to which SO communities are emerging in different contexts, and the form that they take. For example, what do SO communities look like and what conditions are needed for them to flourish? How can SO communities be constructed according to principles of social justice and inclusion? Are SO communities always resilient? Drawing from critical geographical scholarship concerning 'reflexive governance' and the politics of place (e.g. Goodman et al 2013), this paper explores the role of SO communities in transitions to resilient food systems. Informed by our experience of working with several community food initiatives in the UK, the paper provides a critical review of concepts and practices of community SO and raises questions about what resilient food systems and communities might look like in different contexts. More broadly, we argue that agroecological and geographical concepts have much to offer each other as we begin to map out the contribution that such interdisciplinary work can make to resilience thinking.
Food resilience: a new perspective to address the sustainability of the urban food system
Gwenn Pulliat (Aix Marseille University, France)
This presentation explores the role of small-scale urban and peri-urban agriculture in enhancing urban food resilience. Theoretically, it analyses the concept of "food resilience" and its pertinence: how does this dynamic concept, insisting on the people's adaptive capacities, give a new perspective to the building process of food security at the individual and community scales? The analytical part draws upon fieldwork undertaken in Hanoi (Vietnam), and launches a reflection on the role of urban agriculture in households' food resilience. This case study shows that agricultural practices are of major importance in low-income households' livelihoods. They manage their assets so as to combine various livelihoods – a condition to enhance their resilience (Gallopin 2006, Adger 2006) – and farming plays a specific role in this process (Zezza & Tasciotti, 2010). However, in a rapidly developing city, a shift occurs towards (1) the urbanization of former farmlands and (2) a more modernized and commercial peri-urban agriculture (planned urban food system). It seems detrimental to underprivileged households (raising a question of spatial justice in urban planning (Harvey 2008, Soja 2010)), and their practices – such as continuing to grow food on seized land – may be understood both as a resilience-building strategy (individual and community-based food system) and as a contestation against the shape of planned urban development. Therefore, what does "sustainability" mean for the urban food system – if the individual food resilience is threatened? The food resilience concept leads to a new look onto the sustainable food system framework. We will explore the hiatus between the urban policy towards the city food resilience and the actual practices towards individual food resilience.