Sustainable Food Systems


What we eat is intimately related to what is produced in agriculture, to how that is produced, and to everything that happens in between. The promotion of sustainable (agri-)food systems remains one of the most challenging tasks today, particularly in a globalised world. 

It is not only a matter of minimising negative ecological impacts from food production. It is also a matter of adapting to climate change, of conserving agrobiodiversity, and of improving socioeconomic standards throughout agricultural value-chains. Ultimately, sustainable food systems are also about the promotion of food security in its fullest sense, i.e. including nutritional quality and culturally adequate, healthy and diverse diets.

I have worked on policies and governance for the promotion of sustainable food systems for over 10 years — across different scales and regions, from local communities in Canada and Brazil, to national policies in Eastern and Southern Africa, to transnational value-chains and the global food system.

Below are some projects and publications related to my work on this subject.

(See also my forefront areas of interest: Sustainable Landscapes and Green Value-Chains & Bio-based Economy.)

Related Projects

♦ Climate-Smart Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa

This project consisted of the comparative analysis of policy frameworks and practices for climate-smart agriculture across 15 Eastern and Southern African countries. I coordinated and oversaw the work of local consultants for each of our cases (Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe). We examined: policy coherence; issues of access, equity and stakeholder participation (including gender dimensions); and rooms for South-South, North-South and triangular collaboration on sustainable agriculture.

Funding: Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).

Partners: The Earth System Governance Project; the UNDP Rio+ Centre; and the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN, Pretoria-based network across 20 African countries).

♦ Sustainable Food Security in the Globalized Era

This was my Master’s research project, where I analyzed the concept of food security vis-a-vis that of sustainability and compared case studies in Canada and Brazil for the promotion of sustainable food systems.

Partners: Own Master’s research project, Dept. of Environment and Resource Studies, University of Waterloo (Canada).

Related Publications

Russo Lopes, G., Bastos Lima, M.G., Reis, T.N.P. dos (2021). “Maldevelopment revisited: Inclusiveness and social impacts of soy expansion over Brazil’s Cerrado in Matopiba.World Development, 139, 105316. [Open access].

Siegel, K.M. and Bastos Lima, M.G. (2020). “When international sustainability frameworks encounter domestic politics: The sustainable development goals and agri-food governance in South America.World Development, 135, 105053. [Online access]

Bastos Lima, M.G. and Persson, U.M. (2020). “Commodity-centric landscape governance as a double-edged sword: The case of soy and the Cerrado Working Group in Brazil“. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change 3, 27. [Online access].

Bastos Lima, M.G. (2018). “Toward Multipurpose Agriculture: Food, Fuels, Flex Crops, and Prospects for a Bioeconomy“. Global Environmental Politics 18(2), 143-150. [Online access].

Bastos Lima, M.G. (2015). Policies and Practices for Climate-Smart Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Comparative Assessment of Challenges and Opportunities across 15 countries. Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN). [Online access]

Bastos Lima, M.G. and Gupta, J. (2014). “The Extraterritorial Dimensions of Biofuel Policies and the Politics of Scale: Live and Let Die?” Third World Quarterly, 35(3), 392-410 [Online access].

Gupta, J., Baud, I., Bekkers, R., Bernstein, S., Boas, I., Cornelissen, V., Iguchi, M., Kanie, N., Kim, R.E., Bastos Lima, M., Obani, P., Schoof, P., Stevens, C., and van Zoomeren, D. (2014). Sustainable Development Goals and Inclusive Development. Post2015 / UNU-IAS Policy Brief, Nr. 5. [Online access]

Bastos Lima, M.G. (2013). Adjusting Biofuel Policies to meet Social and Rural Development Needs: Analysing the experiences of Brazil, India and Indonesia. International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Policy research brief N.40, Brasilia, Brazil. [Online access]

Bastos Lima, M.G. (2012). “An Institutional Analysis of Biofuel Policies and their Social Implications: Lessons from Brazil, India and Indonesia.” United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), Occasional Paper n.9, series “Social Dimensions of Green Economy and Sustainable Development”. [Online access]

McAllister Kattides, M.L. and Bastos Lima, M.G. (2008). “Changing Food Systems and Implications for Sustainable Communities: Cyprus, Canada and Brazil.” Environments, 36 (1), 45-58. [Online access]

Bastos Lima, M.G (2008). “Street food: Brazilian street vending nourishes the local economy and supports farmers.” Alternatives, 34(3), 30-32.

Bastos Lima, M.G. and McAllister, M.L. (2008). Food security in Brazilian and Canadian Communities: A Comparative Analysis of Feira de Santana and Waterloo RegionAnnals of the IX International Congress of the Brazilian Association of Canadian Studies (ABECAN). Salvador, EDUFBA.

Bastos Lima, M.G. (2008). Sustainable Food Security for Local Communities in the Globalized Era: A Comparative Analysis of Brazilian and Canadian Case Studies. Thesis for obtaining the degree of Master of Environmental Studies. Department of Environment and Resource Studies, University of Waterloo. [Online access]