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Further concepts and approaches for enhancing food system resilience

May 2023

Publication: Nature Food
Author(s): John Ingram, William Bellotti, Mike Brklacich, Thom Achterbosch, Bálint Balázs, Martin Banse, Simon Fielke, Line Gordon, Saher Hasnain, Lieve Herman, Rebecca Kanter, William Kaye-Blake, Jerome Mounsey, Anne Pihlanto, Allyson Quinlan, Johan Six, Rike Stotten, Thomas Tomich, Attila Tóth, Carolina Yacamán & Monika Zurek

The cornerstones to enhance food system resilience can be considered as three fundamental concepts, the ‘3Rs’:

  • robustness, based on the capacity of the food system actors to adapt their activities to resist disruptions to desired food system outcomes;
  • recovery, based on the ability of food system actors to adapt their activities so as to be able to return to pre-existing food system outcomes following disruption; and
  • reorientation, based on the ability of food system actors to adapt their activities based on accepting alternative food system outcomes as a strategy before or after disruption.

The 3Rs are not mutually exclusive or hierarchical.  Each is dynamic, complex and subject to unpredictable uncertainties, requiring innovations in institutions, governance mechanisms and other systems of accountability, as well as changes in culture, individual behaviour and technology.

An appropriate balance is needed across the 3Rs, rather than advocating for singular solutions.

While resilience strategies based on robustness and recovery may be more appropriate in the short term but not sustainable, reorientation is arguably a longer-term approach, suggesting practitioners need to situate shorter-term ‘status quo’ efforts within a longer-term, reorientated vision.

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