With more than 840 million undernourished people in the world (FAO, 2013) and an even greater number suffering from malnutrition, food insecurity is one of the most severe problems faced by the international community, but it nevertheless attracts relatively little attention.
Since the 1980s (Sen, 1981; World Bank, 1986, Dreze and Sen, 1989), the debate on food security has shifted its focus from the problem of the availability of food (i.e., its production, storage, and distribution) to that of access – not only physical – to food in accordance with a multidimensional approach which better reflects the issue’s complexity. According to the most widely-endorsed definition, put forward by the FAO as early as 2001, food security is “a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”.
This new approach highlights three important aspects of food security: 1) on the supply side, the issue is not only agricultural but also intersectoral, and therefore concerns production and distribution processes upstream and downstream to agriculture; 2) security concerns not only the quantity of food but also its quality and safety; 3) the main problem is that of socio-economic access by people to food, rather than its availability.
The various dimensions of food security are analysed within various strands of research at the Rossi-Doria Centre which deal with other topics, such as agriculture (link a pagina corrispondente), global value chains (link a pagina corrispondente), trade (link a pagina corrispondente),land, development (link a pagina corrispondente), and poverty. It is therefore an area of convergence and interdisciplinary collaboration among diverse fields of research and advanced training. In this interdisciplinary context, an aspect to which the Rossi-Doria Centre pays particular attention is that of food security policies and governance – especially at global level.