Resilience of food networks in fragile areas

Silvia Coderoni, Roberto Esposti, Franco Sotte
Università Politecnica delle Marche

Francesco Pagliacci
Università degli Studi di Modena-Reggio Emilia


Local food networks represent one of the few critical strengths in many remote, mountainous, rural or, more generally, less developed areas. Often based on small-scale production units and on a limited factor endowment, both in quantitative and qualitative terms, they still show long-term persistence within increasingly competitive and global food markets. This persistence comes from the resilience of these local networks especially for their capacity to progressively adapt to the changing external conditions, including climate changes. The reorientation of local production towards higher quality standards and the emphasis on the designation of origin arguably represent the main strategy underlying these adaptation processes.   

At the same time, however, these networks are asked to show their resilience not only with respect to long-term external evolutionary patterns but also, and more importantly, with respect to unexpected and often intense, though localized, adverse events. Recent examples may be provided by the 2016 earthquake in Central Italy, especially involving the inner and rural Apennine areas, as well as the numerous flood events, that are increasingly striking European region and typically and cyclically concern less developed or developing countries.

As emphasized by the recent literature, the impact of natural disasters on local economies may be particularly relevant whenever they hit those sectors that represent critical links within local supply chains and networks. Agriculture and food sector are typical examples in this respect (Bouwmeester and Oosterhaven, 2017; Oosterhaven and Bouwmeester, 2016). The social and economic recovery of these areas mostly depend on the recovery and adaptation capacity of such strategic sectors (Esposito et al., 2017) but it is endangered by the possibly permanent effects of the temporary displacement and relocation of demand and trade induced by the adverse event.   

Within this track session we encourage authors to submit research papers addressing the following research questions:

  • How are local food networks structured and which are their strategic
    links within remote, mountainous, rural or, more generally, less
    developed areas? 

  • How do these local networks adapt to long-term evolution of the global food markets?
  • How and how much are these local networks impacted by adverse events
    and, in particular, by natural disasters? How do they react to these
  • Which policies may strengthen the resilience and adaptation capacity
    of these local food networks to adverse events? Experiences and good
    practices in this respect are welcome.


Bouwmeester, M. C. and Oosterhaven, J. (2017), Economic impacts of natural gas flow disruptions between Russia and the EU, Energy Policy, 106: 288-297

Esposito, F., Russo, M., Sargolini, M., Sartori, L. and Virgili, V. (2017), Building Back Better: idee e percorsi per la costruzione di comunità resilienti. Rome: Carocci editore.

Oosterhaven, J. and Bouwmeester, M. C. (2016), A new approach to modeling the impact of disruptive events. Journal of Regional Science, 56: 583–595.