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National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis

Project Description

In our previous project, ‘Environmental impact and sustainability of global food systems,’ we spatially mapped for the first time how and where food production affects the environment. These maps in turn set the context for how these different footprints potentially have very different consequences for different people depending on how the food is produced, both near where they live and due to global production that relies on resources near their homes. Given the large environmental footprint of many foods, and the tendency for such impacts to be pushed to places where people with less power or resources live, there is great risk for food production to exacerbate issues of environmental justice. Global food production not only needs to become more sustainable, but also more equitable, if we are to realize the stated goals of national governments and international communities (for example, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals). Our proposed follow-on project will tackle two key dimensions of the issue of environmental justice and food production, leveraging the substantial data assets compiled in our previous work: 1) synthesize and map the relationship between the environmental footprint of food and the people who bear those costs, and 2) model the production needs and implications of different possible solutions related to shifting foods, food production methods, or production locations. To help explore and direct the rich set of specific research questions to address, we will engage a working group that will bring together experts from diverse disciplines and backgrounds (see Table 1 below). Group members will not only help establish and guide the analytical framework for the research agenda but also provide additional data, as needed. We will hold four meetings, with two held virtually. Additionally, we will engage an analytical researcher to support the working group.

Principal Investigator(s)

Benjamin S. Halpern

Project Dates

Start: June 22, 2021

End: June 30, 2024



Edward H. Allison
University of Washington
Gage Clawson
University of California, Santa Barbara
Joe DeCesaro
University of California - Santa Barbara
Haley Epperly
University of California, Santa Barbara
Melanie Frazier
University of California, Santa Barbara
Halley Froehlich
University of California, Santa Barbara
Jessica Gephart
American University
Benjamin S. Halpern
University of California, Santa Barbara
Christina Hicks
Lancaster University
Kirsty L Nash
University of Tasmania
David R. Williams
University of Leeds

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