Food System Resilience

Bart De Steenhuijsen Piters, Emma Termeer, Deborah Bakker, Hubert Fonteijn, Herman Brouwer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


The COVID-19 crisis is just one in a series of shocks and stressors that exemplify the importance of building resilient food systems. To ensure that desired food system outcomes are less fluctuating, policy makers and other important stakeholders need a common narrative on food system resilience. The purpose of this paper is to work towards a joint understanding of food system resilience and its implications for policy making. The delivery of desired outcomes depends on the ability of food systems to anticipate, prevent, absorb, and adapt to the impacts of shocks and stressors. Based on our literature review we found four properties of food systems that enhance their resilience. We refer to these as the A B C D of resilience building:
Agency, Buffering, Connectivity and Diversity. Over time, many food systems
have lost levels of agency, buffering capacity, connectivity or diversity. One of the principal causes of this is attributed to the governance of food systems. Governance is inherently political: as a result of conflicting interests and power imbalances, food systems fail to deliver equitable and just access to food. Moreover, the impacts of shocks and stressors are not evenly distributed across actors in the food system. This paper has highlighted the importance of more inclusive governance to direct food system transformation towards such higher levels of resilience. We conclude that we cannot leave this to the market, but that democratic and before all independent, credible institutions are needed to create the necessary transparency between actors as to their interests, power and influence.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFood Systems Resilience
EditorsA.I. Ribeiro-Barros, D. Tevera, L.F. Goulao, L.D. Tivana
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2021

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