Food system governance for urban sustainability in the global South

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Food security remains a persistent global challenge. Food security is defined as a situation where all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. The Food and Agriculture Organisation 2013 State of Food and Agriculture review reports that in excess of 868 million people, 12 percent of the global population, are undernourished. Global inequalities mean that this challenge is disproportionately experienced. Food insecurity manifests most severely in specific geographies. Global demographic changes have resulted in shifts in the locus of these experiences. Food insecurity in urban areas, particularly in developing countries, is a persistent yet poorly understood phenomenon. Responses to food security have primarily focused on ensuring food availability, resulting in responses that are predominantly production-orientated. This approach presupposes a principally rural challenge and overlooks critical emerging urban food insecurity challenges. The production and rural dominance in efforts to ameliorate food insecurity have a number of consequences. The first consequence reflects a scientific and technology-driven focus on increasing or optimising net calories produced. Secondly, where access to produced food is constrained, welfare interventions are used to mitigate challenges. Such interventions are predominantly reactive and lack strategic focus. The third consequence, informed by the preceding two interventions, sees policies and legislation that reinforces the production/welfare paradigm. Such food security responses disregard the current transitions evident within society. This thesis identifies a number of global transitions. Within the context of wider global change processes, focus is given to four inter-connected transitions. These transitions include the second urban transition, the food system transition and the nutrition transition. Fourth, driven by the preceding transitions, is the emergence of alternative urban food governance interventions.

Includes bibliographical references.