Resilience is a hot topic right now: consultation on New Zealand’s new National Disaster Resilience Strategy recently closed, and the Paris Agreement’s focus on adaptation includes the goal of strengthening climate resilience. It seems like everyone’s talking about resilience, particularly in relation to climate change and the worsening effects it is already having on our societies. The food system, meaning the eco-social system that produces, distributes, sells, consumes food and disposes of food waste, is both particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and thus also a promising place to focus efforts for increasing resilience.
There’s a lot of disagreement about what resilience means, but for the purposes of this article it is defined as the ability of a system to maintain its basic structure and function in the face of adverse events, such as extreme weather related to climate change, political instability, or community breakdown. “A resilient food system provides a reliable source of nutritious, safe, accessible food despite disturbances.” The resilience of a system can be enhanced by a number of factors, including its diversity, the interconnectedness of its diverse elements, and how much capital it has (including environmental, social and physical capital).