To read this content please select one of the options below:

Addressing food insecurity: a systemic innovation approach

Sharon Zivkovic (University of South Australia, Mawson Lakes, Australia)

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Article publication date: 7 August 2017




This paper aims to question the utility of addressing food insecurity through food assistance programmes and by separating food security into pillars, and it argues for a systemic innovation and complexity approach. This is achieved by demonstrating that food insecurity is a wicked problem and therefore needs to be addressed holistically.


To establish that food insecurity is a wicked problem, characteristics of food insecurity are aligned to characteristics of wicked problems. The need to address wicked problems holistically through a systemic innovation approach and an understanding of complexity theory is discussed by referring to the literature. How to take such an approach for addressing food insecurity is illustrated by describing the use of an online tool that takes a systemic innovation and complexity approach.


Given food insecurity is a wicked problem and needs to be addressed holistically, the focus when addressing food insecurity should not be on programmes or pillars. Instead, it needs to be on increasing the coherence and building the adaptive capacity of food insecurity solution ecosystems.

Practical implications

This paper provides insights into the nature of food insecurity and how to address food insecurity.


For the first time, this paper aligns characteristics of food insecurity to characteristics of wicked problems and demonstrates how an online tool for systemic innovation can assist food insecurity solution ecosystems to address food insecurity.



Zivkovic, S. (2017), "Addressing food insecurity: a systemic innovation approach", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 234-250.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles