Governance of food systems across scales in times of social-ecological change: a review of indicators
Governance of food systems is a poorly understood determinant of food security. Much scholarship on food systems governance is non-empirical, while existing empirical research is often case study-based and theoretically and methodologically incommensurable. This complicates aggregation of evidence and generalization. This paper presents a review of literature to identify a core set of methodological indicators to study food systems governance in future research. Indicators were identified from literature gathered through a structured consultation and sampling from recent systematic reviews and were classified according to governance levels and the food system activity domain they investigate. We found a concentration of indicators in food production at local to national levels and with less literature investigating how food governance affects food distribution and consumption. Many indicators of institutional structure were found, while indicators capturing social agency and indicators of cross-scale dynamics were moderately represented but critical perspectives on governance were lacking. These gaps present an opportunity for future empirical research to investigate more comprehensively the diverse components of food systems and how governance arrangements at different scales affect them.
KeywordsFood systems Governance Food security Research methods Evidence synthesis Socio-ecological change
We acknowledge the CGIAR Fund Council, Australia (ACIAR), Irish Aid, European Union, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, UK, USAID and Thailand for funding to the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). The research for this article was funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), under the Priorities and Policies for CSA Flagship. This article builds upon an earlier version which appeared as a CCAFS Working Paper, number 167. This work was also supported by the US National Science Foundation (grant numbers BCS-1534544, SES-1360421, and SES-1360463) and some authors benefitted from support from the R4D project “Food Sustainability” funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF 400540-152033). We would like to thank Katrien Termeer for helpful insights throughout the project. Thanks are also extended to all those who helped by suggesting literature during consultation, all authors who responded to requests during the review and to Patricia Lezotte of the Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University for invaluable assistance during drafting. We acknowledge the services of the Bibliothèque Nationale de Luxembourg for providing access to materials reviewed.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. We disclose above the sources of funding that made this research possible.
- Acemoglu, D., & Robinson, J. A. (2012). Why nations fail: The origins of power. Prosperity and Poverty: Crown Publishing, New York, USA.Google Scholar
- Biermann, F., Abbott, K., Andresen, S., Bäckstrand, K., Bernstein, S., Betsill, M. M., et al. (2012). Transforming governance and institutions for global sustainability: Key insights from the earth system governance project. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 4(1), 51–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Bizikova, L., Echeverría, D., & Hammill, A. (2014). Systematic review approach to identifying key trends in adaptation governance at the supranational level. (no. 93). Copenhagen, Denmark: CGIAR research Programme on climate change agriculture and food security (CCAFS). www.ccafs.cgiar.org
- Candel, J. J. L., Breeman, G. E., & Termeer, C. J. A. M. (2015). The European Commission’s ability to deal with wicked problems: An in-depth case study of the governance of food security. Journal of European Public Policy, 1–25.Google Scholar
- Colonna, P., Fournier, S., & Touzard, J. (2013). Food Systems. In C. Esnouf, M. Russel, & N. Bricas (Eds.), Food system sustainability: Insights from duALIne. UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Cornwall, A., & Coelho, V. S. (2007). Spaces for change?: The politics of citizen participation in new democratic arenas. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
- De Schutter, O. (2014). Final report: The transformative potential of the right to food (no. a/HRC/25/57). New York, USA: UN general assembly, human rights council. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session25/Pages/ListReports.aspx
- Delaney, A., & Tamás, P. A. (2016). Strengthening the food systems governance evidence base: Supporting commensurability of research through a systematic review of methods - technical report supporting working paper 167, Copenhagen, Denmark: CGIAR research program on climate change, agriculture and food security (CCAFS). Denmark: Copenhagen http://hdl.handle.net/10568/72721.Google Scholar
- Delaney, A., Evans, T., John, M., Blekking, J., Schlachter, T., Korhonen-Kurki, K., et al. (2016a). Strengthening the food systems governance evidence base: Supporting commensurability of research through a systematic review of methods (no. 167). Copenhagen, Denmark: CGIAR research program on climate change, agriculture and food security (CCAFS). http://hdl.handle.net/10568/72720
- Delaney, A., Tamás, P. A., Crane, T. A., & Chesterman, S. (2016b). Systematic review of methods in low-consensus fields: Supporting commensuration through ‘construct-centered methods aggregation’ in the case of climate change vulnerability research. PLoS One, 11(2), e0149071. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0149071.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Donovan, R. Z., Clarke, G., & Sloth, C. (2010). Verification of progress related to enabling activities for the Guyana-Norway REDD+ agreement. USA: Rainforest Alliance.Google Scholar
- Esnouf, C., Russel, M., & Bricas, N. (2013). Food system sustainability: Insights from duALIne. UK: Cambridge University Press http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/life-sciences/natural-resource-management-agriculture-horticulture-and/food-system-sustainability-insights-dualine.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- FAO. (1996). World Food Summit: Rome Declaration and Plan of Action. http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/w3613e/w3613e00.HTM. Accessed 25 November 2015.
- FAO. (2011). Good food security governance: The crucial premise to the twin-track approach - background paper. FAO, Rome, Italy. http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/righttofood/documents/other_documents/2011_good_food_security_gov/FoodSecurityGovernanceWorkshop_backgroundpaper.pdf. Accessed 25 Nov 2015.Google Scholar
- FAO. (2012). FAO - News Article: FAO calls for strengthened food security governance. http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/162391/icode/. Accessed 25 Nov 2015.
- FAO. (2014). SAFA: Sustainability assessment of food and agriculture systems - guidelines version 3.0. Rome: FAO.Google Scholar
- FAO, IFAD and WFP. (2013) The state of food insecurity in the world 2013: The multiple dimensions of food security. Rome: FAO.Google Scholar
- Fung, A. (2004). Empowered participation. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Gupta, J., Termeer, C., Klostermann, J., Meijerink, S., van den Brink, M., Jong, P., et al. (2010). The adaptive capacity wheel: A method to assess the inherent characteristics of institutions to enable the adaptive capacity of society. Environmental Science & Policy, 13(6), 459–471.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hirsch, P. D., Adams, W. M., Brosius, J. P., Zia, A., Bariola, N., & Dammert, J. L. (2011). Acknowledging conservation trade-offs and embracing complexity. Conservation Biology: The Journal of the Society for Conservation Biology, 25(2), 259–264.Google Scholar
- Hooghe, L., & Marks, G. (2003). Unraveling the central state, but how? Types of multi-level governance. American Political Science Review, 97(2), 233–243.Google Scholar
- Hospes, O., & Brons, A. (2016). Food system governance: A systematic literature review. In A. Kennedy & J. Liljeblad (Eds.), Food systems governance: Challenges for justice, equality, and human rights. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Jawtusch, J., Schader, C., Stolze, M., Baumgart, L., & Niggli, U. (2013). Sustainability Monitoring and Assessment Routine: Results from pilot applications of the FAO SAFA Guidelines. In Symposium International sur L’Agriculture Biologique Méditerranénne et Les Signes Distinctifs de Qualité liée à l’Origine, 2–4 Décembre 2013, Agadir, Morocco. http://orgprints.org/29547/. Accessed 22 Jan 2016.
- Landert, J., Schader, C., Moschitz, H., Stolze, M., (2017). A holistic sustainability assessment method for urban food system governance. Sustainability, 9, 490.Google Scholar
- Lamine, C., Renting, H., Rossi, A., Wiskerke, J. S. C., & Brunori, G. (2012). Agri-food systems and territorial development: Innovations, new dynamics and changing governance mechanisms. Farming systems research into the 21st century: The new dynamic. I. Darnhofer, D. Gibbon and B. Dedieu. Dordrecht, springer Netherlands: 229-256.Google Scholar
- Lebel, L., Anderies, J., Campbell, B., Folke, C., Hatfield-Dodds, S., Hughes, T., & Wilson, J. (2006). Governance and the capacity to manage resilience in regional social-ecological systems. Ecology and Society http://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/sms_facpub/52.
- Linstone, H. A., & Turoff, M. (Eds.). (1975). The Delphi method: Techniques and applications. Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
- Liverman, D., & Kapadia, K. (2012). Chapter 1 food systems and the global environment: An overview. In J. Ingram, P. J. Ericksen, & D. Liverman (Eds.), Food Security and Global Environmental Change. 3-24: New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Mandemaker, M., Bakker, M., & Stoorvogel, J. (2011). The role of governance in agricultural expansion and intensification: A global study of arable agriculture. Ecology and Society, 6(12), 8.Google Scholar
- Miller, C., & Erickson, P. (2006). The politics of bridging scales and epistemologies: Science and democracy in global environmental governance. In W. V. Reid, T. J. Wilbanks, D. Capistrano, & F. Berkes (Eds.), Bridging scales and knowledge systems: Concepts and applications in ecosystem assessment. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
- Minde, I. J., Jayne, T., Crawford, E., Ariga, J., & Jones, G. (2008). Promoting fertilizer use in Africa: current issues and empirical evidence from Malawi, Zambia, and Kenya. (no. 54501). Michigan: Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, food, and resource economics.Google Scholar
- Paillard, S., Treyer, S., & Dorin, B. (2011). Agrimonde – Scenarios and challenges for feeding the world. Editions Quae. http://www.springer.com/us/book/9789401787444. Accessed 10 Oct 2015.
- Purdon, M. (2014). The Comparative Turn in Climate Change Adaptation and Food Security Governance Research (no. 92). Copenhagen, Denmark: CGIAR research Programme on climate change agriculture and food security (CCAFS). https://ccafs.cgiar.org/publications/comparative-turn-climate-change-adaptation-and-food-security-governance-research#.Via1BivsQxI. Accessed 20 Oct 2015.
- Rhodes, R. A. W. (1997). Understanding governance. Policy networks, governance, reflexibility and accountability. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
- Spielman, D. J., Cohen, M. J., & Mogues, T. (2008). Mobilizing rural institutions for sustainable livelihoods and equitable development: A case study of local governance and smallholder cooperatives in Ethiopia. Washington DC: International Food Policy Research Institute.Google Scholar
- Stiglitz, J., Lin, J., Monga, C., & Patel, E. (2013). Industrial policy in the African context (no. WPS6633). The World Bank, Washington DC.Google Scholar
- van Bers, C., Pahl-Wostl, C., Ericksen, P.J., Lenaerts, L., Förch, W., Korhonen-Kurki, K., Methner, N., Jones, L., Vasileiou, I., & Ericksen, S. (2016). Transformations in governance towards resilient food systems, CCAFS working paper (no. 190). Copenhagen, Denmark.Google Scholar
- Wambugu, S. W., Chomba, S. W., & Atela, J. (2015). Institutional arrangements for climate-smart landscapes. In P. A. Minang, M. Van Noordwijk, O. E. Freeman, C. Mbow, J. De Leeuw, and D. Catacutan, editors. Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice. Nairobi: World agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).Google Scholar