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Research Group: Policies and institutions for resilient food and water systems


Focus of our Research

Power and politics are crucial in resilience thinking and practice. Our research critically explores the politically progressive thinking and action that is often needed to challenge and transform unsustainable structures and hold powerful actors and networks to account. For example, this research aims to better understand how, - and under what conditions -, can citizens be more centrally involved in policy-making and the governance of resilient food and water systems. This theme also seeks to analyse the power relations implicit in adaptive management as well as the historical, cultural, and political-economic processes that drive human-environmental changes that ultimately impact on water and food security/food sovereignty.

Research in this area identifies the policies and institutions needed to scale up and mainstream equitable and resilient systems for food and water security. It focuses in particular on exploring the policies and institutional frameworks needed to enhance community self-organization for socio-ecological resilience at different scales. Key research topics include:

  • Policy research on how social innovations might give food and water providers (farmers, water collectors, forest dwellers, pastoralists, peri-urban farmers, men and women...) continued access and greater control over land and territories, water, seeds and livestock breeds, biodiversity-rich landscapes, and ecosystem services that are essential for socio-ecological and community resilience in food and water systems.
  • Critical examination of what policy and institutional frameworks support resilient food and water systems based on principles of agroecology, hydrology, community self-organization, social inclusion, and circular economy models.
  • Policy research on ways of re-governing markets, economic exchanges, and investments to enhance the resilience of food and water systems in a context of uncertainty and rapid change, including climate change.
  • Critical assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of methodological and institutional innovations designed to facilitate citizens' participation and agency in local, national and international policy-making on resilience for food and water security.
  • Identifying enabling policies for the implementation of the 'right to food' and the ‘right to water’ for all: how can this human right best be respectedprotected, and fulfilled for men and women engaged in community self- organization for environmental and socio-ecological resilience in rural and urban contexts?

Our policy research not only lives up to traditional academic measures of excellence such as rigour, originality, and reliability. It also aims to solve real-world problems. It seeks to improve citizen engagement in decision-making, contribute to community and socio-ecological resilience, and realize peoples’ fundamental right to water and food security/sovereignty.


Excluded Voices

The aim of the Excluded Voices project is to identify and support processes that can help democratise the governance of food and agricultural research.