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Assessing resilience across the food system

Table member Madeleine Diment has co-authored this feature in Food Science and Technology, which summarises key insights, themes and recommendations from the literature on how to create resilient food systems. It is based on interviews with food system actors, including representatives of hospitality, catering and government.

Survey respondents were asked four key questions about their notions of resilience:

  1. Resilience of what – what needs to be enhanced? Answers were generally imprecise, often referring to simply the whole food system.
  2. Resilience to what – specifies the shocks and stresses that might destabilise the system (e.g. insect outbreaks, IT failures, etc.). Answers clustered around environmental change, food sector pandemics, economic and financial pressures, and market/supply chain issues.
  3. Resilience for whom – clarifies the interested groups (e.g. hospitality workers). Answers included the public, the whole food supply chain, and politicians.
  4. Resilience over what time (daily, seasonal, annual, etc.) – defines the time frame. Answers mostly fell into the 1-5 year range, with one answer noting that multiple time frames should be considered.

The paper also offers a literature review of the principles of resilience and recommendations to strengthen it. 

In conclusion, the authors note that while the term “resilience” is increasingly being used in academic and policy debate, it is not yet well known across all sets of food system actors, and that there is a need to analyse in more detail the spatial and temporal scales at which resilience can be achieved.

 

Abstract

Maddy Diment, Saher Hasnain and John Ingram of the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, describe a study to evaluate resilience strategies for the food systems of eight different countries by surveying the opinions of food system actors and identifying approaches to resilience highlighted in the literature.

 

Reference

Diment, M., Hasnain, S. and Ingram, J. (2021). Assessing resilience across the food system. Food Science and Technology, 35(1), pp. 54-57.

 

Read the full paper here. See also the Table explainer Impacts of climatic and environmental change on food systems.

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Publication
31 Mar 2021
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Image: Julius_Silver, Port of Hamburg Container Ship, Pixabay, Pixabay Licence
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