The objective of this project is to create a mid-to-long term perspective on research questions for WUR on food system resilience. The ambition is to expand our understanding of what determines the resilience of food systems, to understand the impact of different shocks and stressors, and to identify effective resilience strategies and leverage points for resilience building.
COVID-19 has sparked new research interest with regards to the resilience of local, regional and global food systems. The objective of this project, as part of KB Food Security and Valuing Water, is to create a commonly understood mid-to-long term perspective on research questions for WUR on food system resilience. The ambition is to expand our understanding of what determines the resilience of food systems, to understand the impact of different shocks and stressors, and to identify effective resilience strategies and leverage points for resilience building. This research agenda should provide guidance to WUR research in the international domain, including Europe, Africa and a global perspective. The aim is to provide a white paper including current and emerging research questions, dilemmas and consequences of improving resilience to shocks in food systems.
Worldwide, ample empirical research has been conducted on shocks and stressors that affect parts of the food system, such as value chains, production systems, water supply, livestock etc. Food system resilience can only be understood in its’ context and in relation to specific shocks and stressors. It is difficult, if not impossible, to add up a system’s capacity to respond to different shocks and stressors. It is more useful to analyse and visualise how different forms of resilience interact in terms of feedback loops and trade-offs. As a consequence, understanding food system resilience is more a methodological challenge than developing a particular theory about its nature and being, i.e. the ontological question.
Finding ways to better understand food system resilience serves, in the end, concerns in society about latent or acute vulnerability, and room for strengthening response and/or transformation capacity. This implies that our quest for adequate methodology to study food systems resilience, thus being capable of filling perceived knowledge gaps, will have to provide answers to questions how higher levels of resilience can be promoted and, finally, how merits and trade-offs can be balanced.
The anticipated output is a White paper with a shortlist of research questions relevant to WUR. The project will be implemented by a core team supported by a reference group. The period of implementation is September 2020 – January 2021. The approach includes literature review, brainstorm sessions with key knowledge holders at WUR and beyond, representing both science and society. Based on a longlist of emerging research questions and through validation/consultation a shortlist will be deducted, relevant for a research agenda for WUR.