Resilient Food Security – Sophia Murphy – Food Thinkers

Resilient Food Security – Sophia Murphy – Food Thinkers

Sophia Murphy on Resilient Food Security

Since governments first decided to negotiate a stand-alone trade agreement on agriculture, as part of the Uruguay Round of trade talks between 1986-1994, food security has been a topic of contentious debate for trade officials. Millions of livelihoods in developing countries are tied up in primary commodity production for export markets. After decades of neglect however, public and private investment is pouring into food production in developing countries, while food aid has significantly declined as a share of total food exchanges.

How might we characterize the changes in how food security is understood over the past decade? Specifically, where does trade fit in this evolving understanding of the concept? In 2006, FAO outlined four dimensions to food security: access, adequacy, utilization and stability (UN FAO, 2006).

Drawing from the food sovereignty movement, how does stability link to questions of power and voice in the governance of food security strategies? And learning from behavioural economics and psychology, what does our understanding of decision-making in complex systems suggest about how food security might best be governed, in particular as a challenge with high stakes and facing increasing uncertainty?

Through the lens of food security resilience, sophia explores the tensions that have arisen between trade rules and food security policies and analyze the competing demands emerging from the linked but distinct political economies of global, regional and national institutions that decide trade and food security policies.

About the speaker

Sophia Murphy is a PhD student in the Resource Management and Environmental Studies programme at the University of British Columbia. Her research explores the role of international trade in building resilient food security. She has worked for 20 years as a policy analyst in international development, focused on economics and social justice. She has lived and worked in half a dozen countries, exploring local, national, and multilateral policy, for the most part with civil society organizations.

She is a member of the UN Committee on World Food Security’s High Level Panel of Experts and a board member with ActionAid USA. She has given public lectures, taught university courses, and published widely in a range of formats, from book chapters and academic journals to policy briefs and opinion pieces. Her undergraduate degree is from Oxford, in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. Her MSc is from the London School of Economics, in Social Policy and Planning in Developing Countries. She holds a Vanier scholarship and a scholarship from the Trudeau Foundation.

Sophia also joined the FRC for a Food Bites to give us a snapshot snapshot of what the current issues in the food system are and what civil society organisations and academics could be doing to work towards solutions.

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