Food Nutrition Security

Sustainable Cities and Landscape’s schematic of the different scales at which processes affecting a city’s sustainably function, applied in this theme to food (sourced SCL: Our Approach).

Work Group Leader:

Dr Robert Dyball, Australian National University, Canberra |


Throughout history, cities have developed mechanisms to grow beyond the limitations of the productive capacity of their immediate hinterlands. The changing nature of the relationship between a city and the landscapes that provision it is of central concern to the SCL hub. This theme looks at how secure are the food systems of cities and their hinterlands, and what are some of the environmental and human health and wellbeing consequences of their current arrangements. These environmental and wellbeing concerns extend to all actors in the food system, from producers, processors, retailers, consumers, and issues in post consumption, wherever they may be located.

The food and nutrition security theme is interested in current and potential alternative food production and distribution systems at a range of scales, from the very local, including urban agriculture, to regional ‘food catchments’ and ‘food miles’, to national and international distributions systems, including ‘telecoupled’ relationships between producers and consumers in distant places. At any scale, food systems can be assessed against their material and energy costs and outputs, including the sustainability of terrestrial and aquatic methods of production, and the transmission of information, including finance, values, and trust relationships between actors. Beyond studying processes that make food physically available, the theme is concerned with issues of equity and justice for all agents in the food system. It is also concerned with the health and wellbeing implications of different food system arrangements for primary producers, process workers, and for consumers accessing foods with differing degrees of processing and differing energy and nutrient densities. Overarching questions asked by the theme concern the exposure food systems have to different levels of risks and vulnerabilities and how they might be reconfigured to reduce those vulnerabilities, while improving measures of health, justice and sustainability.

This working group met for the first time in 2019 and has since been developing two initiatives. One is drafting chapters for the Sustainable Cities and Landscapes handbook. These drafts will be reviewed by participants at the 2020 meeting in Auckland. The other activity is road-testing a Global Food System model, which is a relatively simple computer simulation model based on an idealised situation where photosynthesised food production is maximised and is optimal for the people and domesticated animals that consume that food. The working group will review and critique progress on this tool. Although both these initiatives stem from the 2019 workshop, the working group welcomes new members and its activities can be readily expanded to include them.

Relevant SDGs:

Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

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Expression of Interest to Join a Working Group



Key Dates

• Expressions of interest for Working Groups to be submitted by:
Monday, 31 August 2020
Wednesday 30 September 2020

• PhD papers submission due on: Sunday, 6 September 2020
Wednesday 30 September 2020

• Early birds registrations close on: Monday, 9 November 2020

• Standard registrations close on: Friday, 11 December 2020

Please note that all key dates are in New Zealand Daylight Time (UTC+12).

About APRU

As a network of leading universities linking the Americas, Asia and Australasia, the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) is the Voice of Knowledge and Innovation for the Asia-Pacific region. We bring together thought leaders, researchers, and policy-makers to exchange ideas and collaborate on effective solutions to the challenges of the 21st century.

We leverage collective education and research capabilities of our members into the international public policy process. Our primary research areas include natural hazards & disaster risk reduction, women in leadership, population aging, global health, sustainable cities, artificial intelligence & the future of work, the Pacific Ocean, and labor mobility.