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Towards Precepts of Food System 
Sustainability 
Hallie Eakin 
with: Chris Wharton, John Connors, 
Farryl Bertmann, Angela...
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE 
DRIVING 
Raworth 2012 
PLANETARY CRISIS
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE 
CREATING 
HUMANITY 
www.sdsu.edu 
Raworth 2012
• A collaborative network that integrates sustainable food production, 
UC Davis Ag. Sustainability Institute 
processing,...
The challenge of defining food system 
sustainability 
Are these definitions equally legitimate? Do they 
contradict one a...
Typology of (Agricultural) Sustainability 
Definitions 
• Non-substantive 
– definitions that are rooted in subjective and...
Better 
? 
Worse? 
Sustainability is: 
“A process and outcome that supports and enhances 
human well-being, social equity ...
Food System Elements 
Ericksen, P. (2008). Conceptualizing food systems for global environmental change 
research. Global ...
(Some) Approaches to Food System 
Sustainability 
• Nutrition 
• Community Food Security (CFS) 
• International Developmen...
What 
Sustained? 
What 
Problem? 
How to 
Sustain? 
Metrics? 
Nutrition Human health Over and under 
(Individual) HUMAN WE...
Six Themes: Diversity 
• Enhances response capacities; 
diminishes risk 
• Conditions innovation 
• Conditions equity 
BUT...
Six Themes: Health 
• Enables efficient and effective 
system function 
• Minimizes need for external 
intervention 
• Ena...
Six Themes: MODULARITY 
• Nested & networked 
structure 
• Internal integration > 
External dependence 
• Connected & self...
Six Themes: TRANSPARENCY 
• Essential for 
empowerment, 
participation 
• Facilitates equity, 
justice 
• Enhances system ...
Six Themes: CONGRUENCE 
http://www.ganzomag.com/symbolik-bitossi. 
html 
• Supports “multiple-reinforcing 
gains” 
• Resou...
Six Themes: INNOVATION 
• Conditions for “creative 
disruption in practice & 
process” 
• Enables learning, 
problem-solvi...
Food For Thought 
• Can these “themes” be 
considered precepts for 
food system sustainability? 
• If so, can they be appl...
Sustainability as Normative Process 
• “Non-substantive” goal-setting 
remains a critical 
part of (political) 
sustainabi...
FOOD SYSTEM SUSTAINABILITY 
Consumption 
Governance 
Production 
Community 
Empowerment 
Waste 
Distribution Processing 
H...
THANK YOU! 
COMMENTS WELCOME: HALLIE.EAKIN@ASU.EDU
Where we want to go: 
A food system that aims to achieve and maintain universal 
food security under uncertain and dynamic...
What is the vision? 
“Sustainable Development must aim to foster 
and preserve socio-ecological systems, from the 
family ...
What is the vision? 
A food system that achieves and maintains 
universal food security under uncertain and 
dynamic socia...
Better? 
What criteria are 
most likely to get us 
Worse? 
there?
Sustainability Assessment Principles 
(Gibson, 2006) 
• Social-ecological integrity 
• Livelihood sufficiency and 
opportu...
Towards Precepts of Food System Sustainability
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Towards Precepts of Food System Sustainability

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Towards Precepts of Food System Sustainability - Presentation by Hallie Eakin. This presentation was given as part of the 'Metrics of Sustainable Diets and Food Systems Symposiumco-organized by Bioversity International and CIHEAM-IAMM, November 4th -5th 2014, Agropolis International, Montpellier

Visit 'Metrics of Sustainable Diets and Food Systems' Symposium webpage.
http://www.bioversityinternational.org/metrics-sustainable-diets-symposium/

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Towards Precepts of Food System Sustainability

  1. 1. Towards Precepts of Food System Sustainability Hallie Eakin with: Chris Wharton, John Connors, Farryl Bertmann, Angela Xiong, Jared Stoltzfus Photo: Amy Lerner
  2. 2. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE DRIVING Raworth 2012 PLANETARY CRISIS
  3. 3. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE CREATING HUMANITY www.sdsu.edu Raworth 2012
  4. 4. • A collaborative network that integrates sustainable food production, UC Davis Ag. Sustainability Institute processing, distribution, consumption and waste management in order to enhance the environmental, economic and social health of a particular place • Consumer-driven, holistic concept .. Respecting carrying capacity of U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization natural ecosystems… that do not jeopardize the needs of present and future generations • … Strives to meet the needs of a growing population and preserve this Monsanto Corp. planet we call home, and to help improve lives everywhere… • Sustainable food systems are … affordable, accessible, healthier and safe Walmart and transparent • An integrated system of plant and animal production practices having site-USDA, specific 1990 application Food Agriculture that, satisfy human Conservation food and fiber and needs, Trade Act enhance environmental quality, use nonrenewable resources efficiently, and enhance quality of life
  5. 5. The challenge of defining food system sustainability Are these definitions equally legitimate? Do they contradict one another? Are they compatible? • Differential points of entry: ecological integrity, resource efficiency, agricultural production, farmers’ livelihoods, consumer health and rights, commerce and trade
  6. 6. Typology of (Agricultural) Sustainability Definitions • Non-substantive – definitions that are rooted in subjective and relative interpretations of “what is good” • Resource efficiency – focused on enabling persistence of desired activity our outcome through foreseeable future • Functional integrity – maintenance of fundamental system functions in a dynamic and evolving world P. Thompson, 2007, “Agricultural Sustainability: What it is, and what it is not” International J. of Ag. Sustainability. 5: 1-16.
  7. 7. Better ? Worse? Sustainability is: “A process and outcome that supports and enhances human well-being, social equity and environmental integrity, and the particular system qualities that sustain these” – Leach et al. 2010 What are those “system qualities”?
  8. 8. Food System Elements Ericksen, P. (2008). Conceptualizing food systems for global environmental change research. Global Environmental Change, 18(234-245)
  9. 9. (Some) Approaches to Food System Sustainability • Nutrition • Community Food Security (CFS) • International Development • Land Use Change Science (LULCC) • Agroecology/ Sustainable Agriculture • Political-Economy & Globalization
  10. 10. What Sustained? What Problem? How to Sustain? Metrics? Nutrition Human health Over and under (Individual) HUMAN WELBEING nutrition Balanced, diversified, safe diet Morbidity reduction Community Food Sec. Local control over food system Inequities in access & control Localization, participation Growth in direct marketing & food access Int’l Dvlpmt Food security and (Pop) ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & HUMAN WELBEING rural livelihoods Hunger, malnutrition and rural poverty Improved commerce, livelihood support Reduced hunger and food crises Land Change Ecological services Agricultural externalities Sustainable intensification Reduced rate of land change; improved agricultural efficiency Agroecolog y (Planetary) ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY (Plot) ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY Farm livelihood and resource base Agricultural externalities Low external input agriculture, mimics ecological processes Reduced external input use, enhanced resilience to shocks Globalizatio n Multiple values in the food economy Excessive commodification Multifunctionality ; alternative Growth of alternative food (Local) GOVERNANCE & JUSTICE (Global) GOVERNANCE & JUSTICE
  11. 11. Six Themes: Diversity • Enhances response capacities; diminishes risk • Conditions innovation • Conditions equity BUT: • Indicators are scale- and context-dependent • Diversity entails costs & tradeoffs
  12. 12. Six Themes: Health • Enables efficient and effective system function • Minimizes need for external intervention • Enables realization of system potential BUT: • Indicators are unit-specific; cross-unit compatibility • Objective measures of health controversial
  13. 13. Six Themes: MODULARITY • Nested & networked structure • Internal integration > External dependence • Connected & self-reliant But • Cost & efficiency • Vulnerabilities Bellm.org
  14. 14. Six Themes: TRANSPARENCY • Essential for empowerment, participation • Facilitates equity, justice • Enhances system feedbacks & learning BUT • Institutional context key ?
  15. 15. Six Themes: CONGRUENCE http://www.ganzomag.com/symbolik-bitossi. html • Supports “multiple-reinforcing gains” • Resource & socially appropriate technology and institutions • Synergy with ecological, biological & cultural functions
  16. 16. Six Themes: INNOVATION • Conditions for “creative disruption in practice & process” • Enables learning, problem-solving, adaptability But • Conditions for safe experimentation • Financial requirements
  17. 17. Food For Thought • Can these “themes” be considered precepts for food system sustainability? • If so, can they be applied consistently and compatibly across scales, geographic contexts, populations? • What is missing? Better? Worse?
  18. 18. Sustainability as Normative Process • “Non-substantive” goal-setting remains a critical part of (political) sustainability process • However, goals, and interventions, should reflect precepts of functional integrity Governance • If these are not the right Well-being precepts: Can we identify them? Eco. Integrity
  19. 19. FOOD SYSTEM SUSTAINABILITY Consumption Governance Production Community Empowerment Waste Distribution Processing Human Health Social welfare Livelihood security Agro-ecological integrity Ecosystem services Multiple values Food Sovereignty FOOD SECURIT Y Diversity Transparency Innovation Congruence EMERGENT OUTCOMES FOOD SYSTEM ACTIVITIES SUPPORTING THEMES – PRECEPTS? Health HUMAN WELL-BEING and SOCIAL JUSTICE ENVIRONMENT AL INTEGRITY Modularity
  20. 20. THANK YOU! COMMENTS WELCOME: HALLIE.EAKIN@ASU.EDU
  21. 21. Where we want to go: A food system that aims to achieve and maintain universal food security under uncertain and dynamic social-ecological conditions, through respecting and supporting the context-specific cultural values and decision-processes that give food social meaning and the diversity of ecological processes necessary for food provisioning today and for future generations. Better ? Worse? What criteria are most likely to get us there?
  22. 22. What is the vision? “Sustainable Development must aim to foster and preserve socio-ecological systems, from the family to the global levels, that are dynamic and adaptable, satisfying, resilient, and therefore durable” - Gibson 2006
  23. 23. What is the vision? A food system that achieves and maintains universal food security under uncertain and dynamic social-ecological conditions, through respecting and supporting the context-specific cultural values and decision-processes that give food social meaning, and the integrity of the ecological processes necessary for food provisioning today and for future generations.
  24. 24. Better? What criteria are most likely to get us Worse? there?
  25. 25. Sustainability Assessment Principles (Gibson, 2006) • Social-ecological integrity • Livelihood sufficiency and opportunity • Inter and intra generational equity • Resource maintenance and efficiency • Social-ecological civility and democratic governance • Precaution and adaptation • Integration But are these sufficient for achieving food system sustainability? R. Gibson, 2006, “Sustainability assessment: basic components of a practical approach” Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, 24: 170-182

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