Integrating Food Security into Local Government Law, Policy and Planning: Using Local Government Legal Structures to Build Community Resilience to Food Insecurity

By Liesel Spencer.

Published by Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Food security, which in the past has perhaps been viewed as primarily an issue for developing nations, is now on the agenda of first world governments. Food insecurity in first world countries has increased as a result of the global economic downturn, however a combination of climate change, peak oil, and unsustainable agricultural practices means that food security will stay on the agenda of governments even after economic recovery. This paper sets out strategies for local (municipal) governments to use local government legal and policy structures to build resilience to food insecurity in local communities. These strategies include direct use of local government regulatory, fiscal and land use planning powers, as well as suggesting a broader role for local government in achieving food security through advocacy and interagency cooperation. A case study is made of local government legal structures in New South Wales, a state in the federal system of Australia. Australian local government areas are geographically and socially diverse, and the strategies suggested are capable of adaptation to rural or urban contexts. It is argued that best practice food security involves a substantial role for local governments, which are best placed to devise regionally appropriate food security solutions.

Keywords: Food Security, Local Government, Public Health

Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.1-15. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 428.173KB).

Liesel Spencer

Associate Lecturer, School of Law, University of Western Sydney, Campbelltown, NSW, Australia

Ms. Spencer joined the School of Law at the University of Western Sydney as an associate lecturer in law in 2007. Her teaching areas include torts law, ethics, civil procedure, and introduction to law. She is also a PhD candidate at the University of Technology Sydney. Ms Spencer’s doctoral thesis uses comparative legal geography to explore the intersection between local government law and urban agriculture, making a case study of the possible adaptation of the Cuban experience in sustainable agriculture to the Australian context. The thesis also considers the relevance of the cobenefits theory in local government planning for urban agriculture and public health.