Resilience, Food Justice and the Future of Food System Governance

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Room 609, Level 6 Melbourne Law School 185 Pelham Street



Queensland has experienced five major flooding events since 2010, each one resulting in disrupted food supply chains and raising important questions about the inclusion of diverse food system actors in disaster/food security governance. In this seminar, Dr Smith will discuss how food system resilience in its most transformative sense relies on both the characteristics of food systems themselves (scale, diversity, flexibility and cohesion) and on governance being more ‘adaptive’ (responsible, participative and collaborative). Together these also contribute to the potential for food systems to become more socially ‘just’: ensuring equitable and reliable access to food that is ecologically sustainable, healthy and fairly produced, exchanged and consumed. This connection – between resilience and justice – is especially timely if we are to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and ‘Zero Hunger’ at the local level.

Dr Smith discussed the connection between food system resilience, disasters and food justice, with reference to recent research in Australia with civic food networks. She presented findings on the food security performance of short (i.e. local, alternative, civic) food chains during severe flooding in early 2011, and the ways that local food system actors are experimenting with reflective governance structures in this context. This presents an attempt to progress multidisciplinary social theory and practice on food system resilience as ‘transformation’.

About the presenter

Dr Kiah Smith is a sociologist and ARC DECRA Research Fellow at the UQ School of Social Science. Kiah has published widely on food security, food justice, financialisation, climate resilience, livelihoods, green economy, ecofeminism, food system governance, and the Sustainable Development Goals. She is currently the lead investigator in the Australian Research Council study, ‘Fair Food Futures, Civil Society and Localising the SDGs’. She is a Future Earth Fellow; has conducted research with the UN, in Australia and overseas; co-convenes the Fair Food Alliance.Brisbane (a local civic food group); and is the author of Ethical Trade, Gender and Sustainable Livelihoods.

Co-hosted by: Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute; Centre for Resources, Energy and Environmental Law, Melbourne Law School; and Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences

This seminar is part of the Sustainable Food System Seminar Series hosted by the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI) as part of the Sustainable Food Systems Project.