IBP Wicked Problem

Discuss how the issues associated with broken food systems might be understood as a wicked problem. The notions of social wicked problems were first introduced in 1973 by Ritter and Webber; two Berkeley professors who published an article in Policy Sciences, that identified the characteristics that differentiated wicked problems from ordinary problems (Camellias 2008). Ritter and Weeper’s article provided 10 properties that can be used as a guide to recognizing whether an issue is considered Wicked’.

With the instant increasing global population, issues surrounding food production and distributed have come to light, raising the questions; is the world’s food system broken? And is it a wicked problem? Studies have shown that currently the global food transport system is growing faster than the food production industry itself (Trochaic, et al 2012). Food demand is becoming a major issue among nations, and is only set to continue in the coming years, with an estimated 50% increase by 2030 (Trochaic, et al 2012).

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Over consumption in the developed world has become a real issue for poorer nations who re struggling to provide basic food provisions for their people, Richard Black identifies that major governments need to start acting sooner rather than later. “We have to go beyond GAP; and either we can do it voluntarily or we’ll have to do it because pressure on a finite planet will in the end make us” (Black, 2012). Adding to this, is the fact that up to 50% of food is lost in transportation, highlighting the huge amount of food wastage occurring, which if cut down would help to ease up the demand and supply chain (Law, 2011).

Climate change and natural disasters are another factor contributing to the food yester crisis. As the world increases its trading and relies more on this system, elements affecting one major provider are felt globally. A catastrophic drought in Russia caused global wheat prices to rise 70% higher in 2011 compared to the previous year; causing major issues for the world’s poorest people, who spend 80% of their income on food (Ford, 2011).

Climate change caused by humans and natural disasters add more elements to the food system predicament, further complicating the search for solutions. The first famine of the 21st century occurred in Somalia, with experts stating that this would have never happened as humans are producing enough food to feed the world twice over (Law, 2011). The report highlights how the disaster could have been prevented through early warning systems, and a quicker response time.

Archie Law brings to light two major issues contributing to the famine; one being the removal of major funding in the agricultural field; governments ignoring this need for more agriculture are simply setting up for future disaster. The second major issue is the use of land; Saudi Arabians emptied their aquifers growing wheat and can longer deed themselves. They are now purchasing land in developing countries to grow their own food supply (Law, 2011). This power play of rich nations adds the issue of politics into the food system, with those with the most money always coming out on top (Maxwell, 2012).

Aid is not enough to fix this issue; more must be done to help the people to help themselves (Karri, 2005). The world’s food system is clearly broken and needs to be addressed on a global scale. There is no definite formulation of this complex problem and the search for solutions never stops. The many elements making up this complex issue are all unique and no solution can bring a 100% fix, adding to this is the amount of stakeholders who have different opinions and expectations.

These are all properties of a wicked problem (Camellias 2008), thus making the broken food system wicked.

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