A framework for assessing the vulnerability of food systems to future shocks

E.D.G. Fraser, W. Mabee, Frank Figge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


Modem society depends on complex agro-ecological and trading systems to provide food for urban residents, yet there are few tools available to assess whether these systems are vulnerable to future disturbances. We propose a preliminary framework to assess the vulnerability of food systems to future shocks based on landscape ecology's 'Panarchy Framework'. According to Panarchy, ecosystem vulnerability is determined by three generic characteristics: (1) the wealth available in the system, (2) how connected the system is, and (3) how much diversity exists in the system. In this framework, wealthy, non-diverse, tightly connected systems are highly vulnerable. The wealth of food systems can be measured using the approach pioneered by development economists to assess how poverty affects food security. Diversity can be measured using the tools investors use to measure the diversity of investment portfolios to assess financial risk. The connectivity of a system can be evaluated with the tools chemists use to assess the pathways chemicals use to flow through the environment. This approach can lead to better tools for creating policy designed to reduce vulnerability, and can help urban or regional planners identify where food systems are vulnerable to shocks and disturbances that may occur in the future. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-479
Number of pages15
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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