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Overcoming undesirable resilience in the global food system

Oliver, T. H., Boyd, E., Balcombe, K., Benton, T. G., Bullock, J. M., Donovan, D., Feola, G., Heard, M., Mace, G. M., Mortimer, S. R., Nunes, R. J., Pywell, R. F. and Zaum, D. (2018) Overcoming undesirable resilience in the global food system. Global Sustainability, 1. e9. ISSN 2059-4798

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1017/sus.2018.9


The current configuration of our global food system is undermining many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), leading to calls for major food system reform and transformation. Concurrently, other science-policy and business initiatives call for a food system more resilient to economic and environmental shocks, for example by improving the economic resilience of current supply chains. Prioritisation of short-term security to a subset of vested interests, however, can undermine the resilience of longer-term beneficial outcomes for society. Here we advocate a more inclusive and farsighted approach focussing on the resilience of positive outcomes for the whole of society, i.e., capturing the aim to promote resilient delivery of multiple UN SDGs. A significant challenge is to prioritise suites of interventions that can effectively transform the global food system to deliver these goals. Here, we use a transdisciplinary lens to identify ‘lock-in’ mechanisms that span four key areas— knowledge-based, economic/regulatory, sociocultural and biophysical constraints –which will help avoid ineffective siloed solutions to food system reform. Furthermore, we show how emergent system dynamics need to be considered using a more holistic approach. We highlight the importance of well-coordinated actions on multiple leverage points during windows of opportunity for food system transformation.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:78602
Publisher:Cambridge University Press


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