Food, Climate Change, and the Challenge of Innovation: History
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Climate change is a shift in the climate’s condition that lasts for an extended period, usually decades or longer, and that may be detected by changes in the mean and variability of its parameters. The full spectrum of players and their related value-adding activities, that are a part of the food supply chain, including the disposal of food items derived from agriculture, forestry, or fisheries, are collectively called food systems. Food systems are a component of their larger economic, social, and environmental contexts. Finally, food security is the condition in which all individuals consistently have physical and financial access to adequate safe, nutritious food that satisfies their dietary needs and food choices for an active and healthy life. Climate change and its relationships with food systems and security are complex since food systems significantly contribute to climate change. However, climate change impacts food systems unpredictably, leading to food insecurity through adverse impacts on the four dimensions of food security: utilization, access, food availability, and stability. Climate change adaptation plans are urgent and include measures such as flood and climate protection, waste management and recycling, climate-smart agriculture, and analytical climatic conditions innovation equipment on agricultural processes and activities. Nevertheless, addressing the climate crisis and its adverse impacts on food security through the activation and promotion of innovation needs reliable information and intervention in many different but interconnected fields, such as institutional design, philanthropy, novel partnerships, finance, and international cooperation. In this context, this paper analyses the relationship between climate change, agriculture, and global–local strategies to ensure food security and also discusses policies’ role in fostering innovation for supporting local agro-food systems and their capacity to sustain societal needs.

  • climate change
  • food systems
  • food security
  • agriculture technology
Climate change is one of the biggest world concerns. It imposes impacts and costs on society and the environment, thus conditioning the possibilities of life and development for present and future generations [1]. Its manifestations are diverse: on the one hand, the primary manifestations of climate change are physical (e.g., rainfall, increased frequency of extreme weather events, changes in temperature, and sea levels); on the other hand, the secondary manifestations are much more diverse and not as easily predictable, including ecological, social, and economic consequences [2][3]. Moreover, its effects do not have similar impacts on the whole of the world population as it presents more severe consequences in certain most vulnerable groups or areas, many of them also characterized by problems of scarcity of food or periods of frequent famines. This is the case in some developing countries, where the subsistence of millions of people is highly dependent on activities closely linked to sectors significantly exposed to climate change, such as agriculture and livestock farming. This population is more vulnerable to climate change risk as they have precarious economic conditions that reduce their financial and technical capacities to deal with it and its consequences. Then, the trajectories of poverty reduction and the efforts to ensure food security are undermined [4][5][6].
The relationship between climate change, agriculture, and global–local strategies to ensure food security appears increasingly complex. It is affected and continually reshaped by changing political and economic factors, requiring more profound analysis and discussion at the research and institutional levels to identify strategies for reducing climate change vulnerability and stabilizing food security levels [7][8]. With this background, this work seeks first to define the framework of a specific analytical approach to the above relations. Then it discusses policies’ role in fostering innovation for supporting the local agro-food systems and their capacity to sustain societal needs. In this case, the focus is on the analysis of food security, not solely considering the availability of food but also the other three dimensions of food security, access, stability, and utilization [9].
The adoption of the so-called food system approach helps in identifying the importance of considering different scales and levels of interaction [10]. This system was built upon the consideration that food systems are intrinsically multiscale, multilevel, and multidimensional. Therefore, in promoting mitigation and adaptation measures as innovation strategies it is important to recognize multiscale and multilevel interactions. Food system vulnerabilities, in connection with climate change, are interrelated and combined across scales, levels, and dimensions. Vulnerabilities in various spheres of the same food system may involve synergies. As a result, innovations for mitigation and adaptation relating to one level, scale, or dimension may be fostered or slowed down by factors and processes developing at different scales or levels [11][12]. Therefore, innovation is conceived here as a means of changing the food system organization at different scales and levels, either as a response to changes in the spheres connected with it (e.g., ecosystems, socioeconomic systems, etc.) or as a pre-emptive action to influence these environments. This paper focuses on Food Innovation Technologies (FIT) as tools for adapting food systems and agricultural production to climate change.
FIT implies a wide range of innovative elements not limited to specific products or production processes. It also includes new organizational and interaction processes across and within different levels of action and responsibility.
Therefore, innovation is ‘broadly defined to encompass a range of types: new product or service, new process technology, new organization structure, administrative systems, or new plans or programs’ [13] (p. 694). It also includes the social networks of the actors involved in the interconnected spheres.
This contribution reflects the links between agro-food production, climate change, and innovation. It has an introductory nature in intending to outline the bidirectional relation that connects the evolution of food systems and the long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. It provides a framework for further discussion on the role that innovation and supportive action and policies can play in transforming agro-food production to counter climate change. In this sense, this entry covers the importance that policies have in stimulating innovation for supporting local agro-food systems and their ability to meet societal demands, as well as the relationship between climate change, agriculture, and global–local initiatives to assure food security.
In an increasingly energy-demanding global system, successfully fighting climate change will require, first and foremost, targeted government policies to level the economic playing field between the production of clean energy and the use of more polluting energy sources through actions such as the determination of a price for carbon dioxide emissions [14][15]. However, it also requires policies that encourage the promoting of agro-food innovation in a sustainable, open, and collaborative way.

This entry is adapted from the peer-reviewed paper 10.3390/encyclopedia3030060

References

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  12. Ericksen, P.J. What Is the Vulnerability of a Food System to Global Environmental Change? Ecol. Soc. 2008, 13, 14. Available online: https://hdl.handle.net/10568/35042 (accessed on 18 March 2023).
  13. Damanpour, F. Organizational Complexity and Innovation: Developing and Testing Multiple Contingency Models. Manag. Sci. 1996, 42, 693–716. Available online: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2634460 (accessed on 12 March 2023).
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  15. Venkataraman, S. Fighting Climate Change. Available at SSRN 3837541. 2020. Available online: http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3837541 (accessed on 15 March 2023).
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