The values underpinning Iceland's food system risk : implications for resilience planning
Author(s)Jacobson, Holly Johanna
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
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Some claim Iceland's food security is in grave danger. Farms fear financial failure as they compete with cheaper imports; high import reliance renders the country vulnerable to natural, political, and financial volatility; climate change threatens to exacerbate these food system weaknesses. Yet Iceland has no contingency plan, and adaptation measures are absent from national climate change reports. While this gap could be perceived as negligence, to do so assumes a universalistic framework for risk and resilience -- a trend currently seen in the global proliferation of formulaic, resiliency plans. Ecological resilience is defined as the ability of a system to absorb disturbance so as to retain essentially the same function. In a social-ecological system, what defines that function? Who decides what is at risk? This thesis seeks to understand the defining parameters behind risk and resilience within Iceland's social-ecological food system -- a dynamic and evolving set of tensions between human livelihoods, legal frameworks, biological cycling, and emotive response. Interviews, backed by risk theory and corroborated with survey data, uncover the tendency for risk to be framed in the context of particular value logics. Explored through factor analysis, the aggregate risk scale that focuses on agricultural vitality, for example, correlates with a value scale that embeds preparedness and self-sufficiency, but also cultural heritage. These findings suggest several implications: First, there is a need to go beyond economic valuations in understanding risk. Moral, sentimental, and ideational values shape risk perception, and our current tools -- such as discounting -- cannot adequately consider what a future community will value. Secondly, if a value at stake underpins how risk is defined, then, inversely, preserving that value can define resilience. In other words, value-based resilience offers a framework for defining the function resilience preserves. And yet finally, this logic highlights a powerful hazard in resilience planning -- the risk of systematically establishing preference for certain values and perpetuating a dominant set of social, political, economic ideologies. Value-based resilience is thus a call to planners to recognize the vulnerability built into the plans we make.
Thesis: M.C.P., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 2016.This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections."June 2016." Cataloged from student-submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 116-129).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.