Governing wildlife practices in China's post-Covid food system

This project investigates how changes in wildlife practices in China’s food systems can help sustainably and ethically transform food systems and achieve interspecies health.

China is actively portraying itself as a global conservation leader, with the aspirational goal of building an "Ecological Civilisation"­ – a competing paradigm with sustainable development that emphasises the harmonious co-existence of humans and nature. China’s wildlife food trade, however, has long been under fire for its negative impacts on global biodiversity, despite its role in poverty alleviation. COVID-19 has heightened worldwide concerns over wildlife farming and prompted China to enact substantial regulatory changes. Meanwhile, on the ground, new regulations face significant resistance from those farming, trading, and consuming wildlife. China’s wildlife practices ­are experiencing an unprecedented realignment, highlighting ongoing tensions between food, health, and the environment. By extending practice theories to an underexamined yet globally significant food sector, this study will employ comparative case studies to showcase how wildlife practices are being reconfigured by authoritarian state controls, evolving market demands, and conservation politics. In doing so, it will advance our understanding of how changes in wildlife practices may shape sustainable transitions and how the worldwide phenomena of wildlife food consumption may evolve under the influence of China, a rising yet contested new leader in biodiversity conservation.