Food security as a global public good

Authored by: Cristian Timmermann

Routledge Handbook Of Food As A Commons

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138062627
eBook ISBN: 9781315161495
Adobe ISBN:


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In standard economic parlance, public goods are defined as goods that are non-excludable and non-rivalrous in consumption (Stiglitz, 1999). Since these goods can be enjoyed by all, but require resources, political will and effort to be produced and maintained, they are often in short supply or absent entirely (Anomaly, 2015). Well-known examples of public goods are world peace, a stable climate, and scientific knowledge. Communities collaborate to develop a public good by pooling resources together. Over recent decades we have observed a variety of attempts to provide public goods that are specifically designed to be enjoyed by everyone worldwide, the so-called global public goods. The characteristic of global public goods is that they are meant to make “humanity as a whole the publicum, or beneficiary” (Kaul et al., 1999: 3). The aim of this chapter is to highlight the advantages and shortcomings of applying to food security the concept of the global public good, as such an examination is crucial in drawing comparisons with the central concept of this handbook: food as a commons.

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