Food Security and Resilience

Resilient food systems have the ability to provide sufficient food in spite of unpredictable disturbances.

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.

There are four dimensions to this definition:

  • Availability
  • Access
  • Utilization
  • Stability

The first two elements concern the actual availability of food and physical and monetary access to it. Production-related aspects such as agronomic potential, investment in infrastructure and breeding play an important part in this context. Other significant influences are global drivers such as population growth and global trade as well as general economic and technological developments.

The third element, the utilization of food, contains not only aspects such as quality, safety and dealing with food waste and food losses, but also the amounts of agricultural products which are further used as energy carriers or in synthetic materials.

The final element refers to the stability of the food system. From a short-term perspective, it is firstly a matter of the political, institutional and economic framework conditions which promote investment and innovation. Secondly, the state of natural resources and the impact of various environmental factors such as e.g. climate change, soil quality or plant diseases also play a part. They all affect the long-term potential and resilience of the food system.

Resilience of the food system:
In terms of resilience, the nub of the matter is how a system reacts to disturbances or how it is able to deal with them. The question here is whether the system is in a position to withstand negative events.

Against this background, resilience in the broadest sense can be understood to be the dynamic ability to reach given objectives in spite of disturbances and shocks. It is therefore a matter of maintaining the system and its output in the long term.

In their definition, Tendall and her colleagues link food security and resilience. Resilient food systems and all their elements along the value chain have the ability to provide sufficient, appropriate and accessible food in spite of various, unforeseen disturbances. Essentially, therefore, it is a matter of a resilient food system being robust in the face of disturbances, able to recover flexibly and quickly, and able to adapt itself to changing conditions as well as possible.

Last modification 15.08.2018

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