Food governance

Drawing upon law to create healthy and sustainable food systems
We’re exploring how governments can use law, regulation, and policy to create healthy, sustainable, and equitable food systems.

Our vision

Our collaboration team seeks to find solutions to food system challenges such as food security, diet-related health, and food system sustainability through innovative uses of law, regulation, and policy.

It does so by drawing on legal and policy expertise across the University and its medical research institutes, fostering collaboration between lawyers and clinicians, nutritionists, health scientists, policymakers and others to develop practical solutions and create real change.

Our team will use a cross-disciplinary platform to explore the role of law, regulation, and policy in creating a healthy, sustainable, and equitable food system. Our objectives are to:

  • Provide a forum for bringing together Australian and New Zealand researchers in food governance, with the goal of creating new research relationships and collaborations;
  • Translate research into impactful regulatory advice, provided mainly through submissions to law and policy research processes; and
  • Undertake and support research-related activities such as preparing grant applications and supervising summer scholars

This research will provide all levels of governments with innovative legal and policy solutions for addressing contemporary food system challenges. 

Food Governance Conference

  • Under the auspices of the Food Governance Node, Drs Belinda Reeve and Alexandra Jones (Node co-founders) established Australia’s first Food Governance Conference.
  • The conference is a collaborative endeavour between The University of Sydney Law School, the Charles Perkins Centre and the George Institute for Global Health, and was first run at Sydney Law School in July 2016. The conference brings together lawyers, nutritionists, policy analysts, and health scientists to explore how law, policy, and regulation address food system challenges or contribute to them at local, national, regional, and global levels. This includes issues such as food security, food safety, food sustainability, equity and social justice in global food systems, and nutrition: under/malnutrition, obesity, and noncommunicable disease
  •  In December 2021 the Food Governance Node hosted the Global Food Governance Conference in collaboration with the George Institute for Global Health and the Global Center for Legal Innovation on Food Environments (Georgetown University Law Centre). Highlighting the interrelationships between the main challenges facing the global food system in the 21st century, the conference created new opportunities for collaborations that promote access to healthy and sustainable food for all.

Senate Select Committee into the Obesity Epidemic in Australia 

  • The Food Governance Node made a written submission to the Federal Senate Select Committee into the Obesity Epidemic in Australia, headed by the then-leader of the Australian Greens Party, Dr Richard Di Natale. The Node’s submission outlined key gaps in the Federal Government’s policy and regulatory response to obesity, as well as the shortcomings in the existing voluntary initiatives that apply to unhealthy food marketing to children, interpretive food labelling, and processed food product reformulation
  • On the basis of this submission, Drs Alexandra Jones and Belinda Reeve were invited to give in-person evidence on behalf of the Node at a hearing of the Federal Senate Select Committee on the 6th of August 2018. This evidence, and the Node’s written submission, are cited in the Committee’s final report.

ARC Discovery Grant

  • ARC Discovery ($422,000, 2019. DP190102494) to investigate the role of law, regulation and policy in enabling local governments and communities in NSW and Victoria to contribute to healthy, sustainable, and equitable food systems
  • The project aims to generate recommendations for law and policy reform that will empower local governments and communities to participate more effectively in food system governance at the local level. Led by Dr Reeve, the research team includes investigators at the University of Sydney, the University of Wollongong and the William Angliss Institute (Victoria), with disciplinary expertise in law, nutrition, and food systems.

Indigenous peoples' inclusion in food governance in Australia and Aotearoa

27 July 2022

Project Node Co-Leader

Sally McDonald

Project Node Co-Leader

Fiona Sing

Food Governance node background document

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