Understanding the links between human health, ecosystem health, and food systems in Small Island Developing States using stakeholder-informed causal loop diagrams.
PLOS global public health 2023 ; 3: e0001988.
PubMed ID : 37725624
PMCID : PMC10508617
Globalized food systems are a major driver of climate change, biodiversity loss, environmental degradation, and the increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity in society. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are particularly sensitive to the negative effects of rapid environmental change, with many also exhibiting a heavy reliance on food imports and high burdens of nutrition-related disease, resulting in calls to (re)localize their food systems. Such a transition represents a complex challenge, with adaptation interventions in one part of the food system contingent on the success of interventions in other parts. To help address this challenge, we used group model-building techniques from the science of system dynamics to engage food system stakeholders in Caribbean and Pacific SIDS. Our aim was to understand the drivers of unhealthy and unsustainable food systems in SIDS, and the potential role that increased local food production could play in transformative adaptation. We present two causal loop diagrams (CLDs) considered helpful in designing resilience-enhancing interventions in local food systems. These CLDs represent 'dynamic hypotheses' and provide starting points that can be adapted to local contexts for identifying food system factors, understanding the interactions between them, and co-creating and implementing adaptation interventions, particularly in SIDS. The results can help guide understanding of complexity, assist in the co-creation of interventions, and reduce the risk of maladaptive consequences.