In a continued exploration of the resiliency of our food system, Professor Eakin reinforced that optimism regarding national food security may mask important socio-ecological vulnerabilities at finer scales of analysis. The vulnerabilities of our food systems have surfaced across the globe in response to commodity price spikes, rising input costs, climatic extremes and, most recently, in relation to COVID-19. In this talk, Professor Eakin presented core concepts associated with a social-ecological resilience approach to food systems. Using examples from empirical research, Professor Eakin discussed what such an approach implies towards understanding food system vulnerabilities, and how we might use such concepts in support of policies designed for food system sustainability. Professor Eakin noted the impact of COVID-19 as exemplifying the need for “functional redundancy” as opposed to hyper-specialization. The talk reiterated the central thesis of Prof. Isakson’s earlier talk on the function of milpa in Guatemala and reasserts that crop and livelihood diversification mitigate the impact of crises and enhances response options. Prof. Eakin concluded by shifting a focus from food system outcomes to the criteria that underpin the systems we want, such as diversity and innovation, and reengineering the framework from the bottom up.
The Building Resilience Initiative will be hosting regular webinars to further explore resilient supply chains, Mondays 4 - 5 PM, register here.