UNSW Canberra

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  • (2023) Arthur, Hanson
    The global food system faces significant challenges in terms of achieving food and nutrition security, and sustainability. There continue to be many social, economic, and environmental externalities and violations (such as land degradation, water pollution, smallholder livelihood challenges, health and safety threats from the overuse of pesticides, food fraud and food safety challenges, among others) that increasingly challenge the current global food system. How food systems are governed is important in reversing current adverse trends and in achieving long term sustainability. The role of private non-state1 modes of governance as drivers of change in the structure and function of food systems is also widely recognized. While the phenomenon of private governance of food systems is widely studied in the Global North, little is known and understood about the phenomenon in certain regions of the Global South, particularly in Sub-Sahara Africa. The aim of this thesis is to critically examine the role of non-state governance actors in food system change, and especially how they contribute to achieving food systems sustainability in Global South contexts. The thesis deploys a qualitative case study approach to deepen understandings of emerging non-state modes of food systems governance in the Global South from a city-region perspective, and how such governance arrangements promote or hinder sustainability in its dimensions of governance, social, economic, and environmental outcomes. A non-state food governance arrangement in Ghana that utilizes certification as a governance mechanism is used as a case study, and its sustainability outcomes assessed by using the Food and Agricultural Organization’s (FAO) SAFA (Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture Systems) Framework. The study finds that by involving several food system actors in its governing board, the arrangement has achieved legitimacy as a food governance institution. Furthermore, while the arrangement largely succeeds in promoting economic and social sustainability, significant improvements are needed in its contribution to the governance and environmental dimensions of sustainability. This study contributes to current knowledge and understanding of the role of governance in orchestrating food system change in the context of developing countries. The study generates empirical governance lessons for potential transfer into other geographic regions confronting food system challenges. The study further contributes to the discourse about the shift from ‘government’ to ‘governance’, it highlights the adoption of sustainable [agricultural] practices and supports the formulation of more inclusive food system governance policies in developing countries. Finally, it provides evidence on how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are being pursued in Global South contexts.