Just and sustainable food systems: Innovative solutions proposed by young scholars

This special issue of the journal Solutions showcases a diversity of solutions for future food security proposed by young thinkers from around the world.

“We found ourselves getting frustrated, reading and re-reading analyses of problems, but not a lot of solutions. We decided we needed to make space for young scholars and practitioners to propose ‘out of the box’ solutions for some of the big problems facing our food systems” said Dr. Megan Bailey, assistant professor at Dalhousie University’s Marine Affairs Program and guest editor.

The special issue brings together a diverse group of young and creative thinkers who see in their daily work the emergence of solutions to the present and future challenges of food security. Many of the authors call for the push boundaries: not only of contemporary science and popular notions of who “counts” as a scientist, but also of “common-sense”.

“The solutions proposed in this special issue can be seen as an atlas of possibilities. There are multiple roads we can, and must, travel” said Dr. Jessica Duncan, assistant professor in Rural Sociology at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and guest editor. “While we recognise that there are no silver-bullet solutions, we also recognise that we need diverse and creative route planning: some routes may take us off-road and others may lead us directly to road blocks. It is our hope that the solutions presented in this Special Issue will lead us to just and sustainable food futures.”

Much of the scholarship on food security tends to focus on singular issues (aquaculture, small-holder farms, value chains, urban agriculture, etc.,). Duncan and Bailey sought to include these singular issues, but to aggregate them into one collection in an effort to identify commonalities across solutions. “What we noticed is that many of these diverse solutions are in fact about similar things: values, people, participation, institutions, and inclusion”, Duncan said. “We wanted to get away from ‘either-or’” added Bailey. The guest editors think there is room, and in fact a need, for supporting a broad solutions base.

The solutions covered in the special issue address:

  • New market mechanism to support sustainable soil management
  • Consumer-facing traceability
  • New models for food certification
  • Circular economy
  • Participatory processes
  • Indigenous practices
  • Insects for livestock feed
  • Gender awareness in development projects (e.g. land and aquaculture)
  • Food production after catastrophe


The special issue sheds light on the need to reject the tendency to call innovative and radical alternatives “unrealistic” and to push for a reimagining of how food systems can function, and for whom they function.


To read the Special Issue online, go here

contributors solutions

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