Sustainability, resilience and governance of an urban food system: a case study of peri-urban Wuhan

Dolley, Jonathan (2017) Sustainability, resilience and governance of an urban food system: a case study of peri-urban Wuhan. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

While it is clear that urban food systems need to be made resilient so that broader sustainability
goals can be maintained over time, it has been a matter of debate as to how resilience should be
conceptualised when applied to social-ecological systems. Through a case study of peri-urban
Wuhan, this research develops and applies a resilience based conceptual framework for periurban
food systems analysis in order to explore the potential for an enhanced understanding of
resilience that can contribute to promoting sustainability in urban food systems.

The evidence of this thesis suggests that the current approach to governance of Wuhan’s periurban
vegetable system is building an increasingly exclusionary pattern of resilience. It is a
form of resilience building which is likely to undermine broader normative sustainability goals
around social justice and environmental integrity and have mixed future implications for food
system resilience as a whole, particularly in relation to livelihood outcomes for peri-urban
farmers and food safety outcomes for urban consumers in general.

The key lessons from this research are that the concept of resilience can be used to support
either a narrowing down or an opening up of normative framings of system outcomes and can
contribute to obscuring or revealing the multiple processes of change unfolding across the levels
of system context, structures and actors. These dualities in the way that resilience thinking can
contribute to normative and analytical framings need to be explicitly acknowledged if serious
unintended consequences of resilience building interventions are to be avoided. Six important
principles for conceptualising resilience in urban food systems are suggested: to 1) disaggregate
system outcomes, 2) differentiate function and structure, 3) analyse positive and negative
resilience, 4) identify external and structural shocks and stresses, 5) analyse resilience in
relation to multiple and multi-scale processes of change and 6) recognise the impacts of those
processes on marginalised system actors. Finally, a heuristic framework is presented for guiding
the design of resilience analyses of human dominated social-ecological systems.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic history and conditions > HC0079 Special topics, A-Z > HC0079.E5 Environmental policy and economic development. Sustainable development Including environmental economics
H Social Sciences > HC Economic history and conditions > HC0426 China
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labour > HD1401 Agriculture
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labour > HD9000 Special industries and trades > HD9000.9 Agricultural industries
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2017 14:10
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2017 14:10
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/66462

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