Plenary discussion: Food systems resilience. Is circularity the answer?
byANH Academy
Academy Week Research Conference
| Agriculture, Animals and Livestock, Economics, Environment, Food Systems, Nutrition, Planetary Health, Social Sciences, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
Date and Time
From: 30 June 2022, 12:45
To: 30 June 2022, 14:00
BST British Summer Time GMT+1:00
Open Full Event ANH2022 RC Plenary Circular food systems graphic


Recent years have underscored just how fragile the world’s interconnected food systems are to shocks such as pandemics and acute conflict as well as protracted crises driven by climate change, environmental stressors, geopolitics and power asymmetries.

This fragility is not felt equally. Ever widening inequities are rendering large populations food insecure, exposed to environmental hazards and vulnerable to increasingly erratic weather events. Rapid biodiversity loss, runaway climate change and environmental pollution have collided with an era of growing corporate control, multilateral fragmentation and economic downturn, to create a perfect storm for people and planet.  

Many of these problems are themselves the symptoms of the unsustainable linear, extractive and wasteful economic systems within which food systems function.

Therefore, while tweaking food systems in their current model may buy some time and reduce some immediate vulnerabilities, it is increasingly acknowledged that a fundamental reconfiguration is needed to rebuild food architectures that are resilient, sustainable, just; and maybe even peace-inducing.


But what does such a reconfiguration look like?

This special ANH2022 session brings together diverse perspectives to ask a simple question:

Is moving from linear to circular the ultimate transformation for food systems resilience?


Session outline

In recent years the ancient concept of circularity has been popularised as a strategy to generate economic and environment benefits. But should, and could, it harness benefits beyond these domains? This session brings together a diverse group of experts to think about circularity in a more holistic, multi-disciplinary manner, to ponder how it relates to:

  • The role of livestock in circular agro-production systems
  • Indigenous knowledge, traditional practices and biodiversity
  • Regional food sovereignty and agroecological transitions
  • Waste management, human health and systemic transformation
  • De-concentration of corporate power in the food system.


Panel discussion:
Setting the scene
  • Megan Deeney, Researcher – Circular Food Systems, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  • Alice Ruhweza, Africa Region Director, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
  • Desta Mebratu, Professor at the Center for Sustainability Transitions at University Stellenbosch & Lead for the United Nations High Level Champions Initiative (UNHLC) on Open Waste Burning
  • Hannah van Zanten, Associate Professor of Circular Food Systems, Wageningen University.
  • Mamadou Goita, Executive Director of the Institute for Research and Promotion of Alternatives in Development (IRPAD). Founding member, COPAGEN (the Coalition to Protect African Genetic Heritage) and AFSA (Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa).


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