Understanding the Social and Political Dynamics of Sustainable Food Systems

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Nearly 1 in 4 people around the world suffer from food insecurity, and the food system is one of the largest contributors to climate change and biodiversity loss1. The ways in which social and political institutions shape and respond to such challenges are the subject of a wide range of interdisciplinary research. To increase the visibility of this research, Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems announces the launch of a new Specialty Section on Social Movements, Institutions and Governance. Chief Editors Hannah Wittman of the University of British Columbia and Rachel Bezner Kerr of Cornell University bring their expertise on the social and political framework of food systems and food security to shape this specialty into a key reference for all stakeholders in food sustainability.

The scale of the challenge

“Our section addresses the social and political dynamics in global food systems, which shape people’s access to food, what kind of food is available, the way food is produced, and its environmental, social and health impacts.”

What does the data have to say about this critical issue?

“Numerous scientific reports have highlighted the ways in which global food systems are broken, in terms of ecological, social and health indicators. Addressing governance of food systems is one crucial way to tackle these challenges. Social movements provide beacons of light for finding alternative ways of organizing food systems and pushing for change within current food systems. Institutions at all levels – from the global to local – shape the sustainability of the food system. Social science, interdisciplinary and participatory research is crucial to shed light on these dimensions of the food system.”

Finding solutions

“All of the major issues related to sustainability of food systems – including climate change, resilient livelihoods for food providers, rising rates of obesity alongside persistent hunger, and dramatic declines in biodiversity from pesticide use and land use change, all require transdisciplinary research insights. Many of the solutions to these problems require understanding governance, social movements and institutions.”

The Social Movements, Institutions and Governance specialty aims to publish high-quality and interdisciplinary research to advance critical discussions of power dynamics in our food system, taking into account a diverse range of perspectives on potential solutions to pressing problems. The Specialty will stimulate reflections from a position of methodological diversity – supporting many ways of moving the food system towards a sustainable and food-secure future.

The Social Movements, Institutions and Governance Specialty is now open for high-quality article submissions and welcomes Research Topic proposals. The first collection for this section Agro-Food Systems, Citizen Science and the Sustainability Transition is already welcoming submissions!

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1. https://ourworldindata.org/hunger-and-undernourishment