August 16, 2011

Food security and stakeholder empowerment

As the human population approaches 10 billion in a planet with finite resources, food security will remain a major social-ecological challenge. Decision-making regarding food security requires a dialog between different actors, stakeholders and communities at multiple spatial scales, and must be underpinned by the empowerment of local and indigenous peoples as well as displaced individuals and environmental refugees, the strengthening of participatory governance, and the development of cross-cultural ecologies and trans-disciplinary capacity building. Narratives, data, values and assessments must all be incorporated into a collaborative process of scenario-building. In the end the process must provide specific recommendations for policy-makers.

Following this blueprint, relevant stakeholders yesterday created a World-Wide lnterethnic Platform on Food Security and Ecosystem Cultural Services with the goal of establishing a short-term agenda for food security and birthday celebration. This mandate was completed after a lively deliberative process in which an indigenous individual contributed local expertise and traditional knowledge and a young environmental refugee built creative scenarios and provided nonlinear criticism. The final policy recommendation was to go to the Italian buffet, leaving the grill restaurant or Burger King for another occasion. After dinner we both felt very empowered.


I thank Mike Hulme and collaborators for stylistic inspiration (Science-policy interface: beyond assessments, also available here).

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