Vulnerability and resilience in Nordic food systems

While the COVID-19 pandemic exposes the vulnerabilities of food systems, it also provides an opportunity to build even greater resilience.

Over the past couple of months, I have been collaborating with Amanda Wood and My Sellberg to develop this think piece for the Nordic Food Policy Lab of the Nordic Council of Ministers. We investigate the vulnerabilities of the Nordic food system that have been exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and highlight the importance of developing a systems-based resilience strategy to ensure that the Nordic Region can bounce forward after future shocks.

Takeaway messages:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on some of the vulnerabilities in Nordic food systems. There are, however, many other areas of vulnerability that have not been directly exposed under the current crisis.
  • Understanding the different types of vulnerabilities is an important step in preparing the food system’s ability to cope with future events.
  • Resilience reflects the capacity of such a system to maintain human well-being in the face of change by buffering shocks, but also through adaptation and even transformation of parts of the system. In other words, resilience is the capacity to deal with change and continue to develop.
  • The Nordic Region has strong foundations of resilience. That said, building and maintaining resilience is an ongoing effort.
  • Planning for the future will require a comprehensive assessment of the vulnerabilities of Nordic food systems and an understanding of what the magnitude and breadth of impact would be if the vulnerabilities were exposed. A comprehensive assessment of this scale has never been carried out in the history of Nordic co-operation.

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