Across the U.S., city leaders are prioritizing urban resilience in response to climate change, natural disasters and economic shocks. While many definitions for resilience exist, at the core are three basic principles: the ability to adapt to changing conditions, withstand disruptions, and return to pre-existing conditions. Food systems have been largely left out of urban resilience planning efforts. Most cities expect to provide residents with food for a relatively short period of time—a few weeks at most—during the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster. But as Hurricane Katrina demonstrated, food system disruptions may last months or years.
ICIC has become a leader in the emerging field of urban food system resilience research. Our latest research, conducted with the support of The Rockefeller Foundation, makes a strong case that city leaders should bring food systems to the forefront of urban resilience planning. The Resilience of America’s Food Systems: Evidence from Five Cites outlines a playbook for city leaders with five recommendations to strengthen the resilience of their urban food systems to natural disasters and thereby ensure that food access in all neighborhoods returns to pre-disaster levels as quickly as possible.
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We were honored to have our work featured at RES/CON 2017: The Global Resilience Summit (the premier annual international conference on the practice of successful resilience and disaster management) in a session devoted to food system resilience.
In 2015, we were commissioned by the City of Boston to analyze the resilience of Boston’s food system. The report, Resilient Food Systems, Resilient Cities, has influenced leaders in the region to take steps to address food system vulnerabilities.