Using geographic information systems to power the right to food in Australia  



This project was part of the Australian Human Rights Institute’s 2023 seed funding round, receiving $5, 936 


The right to adequate food is a basic human right acknowledged in the United Nations (UN) universal declaration of human rights. However, global hung and malnutrition remain an enormous challenge, with over 345 million people estimated to be currently food insecure – more than double the figure in 2020 (WFP, 2023).  

As it happens, Australia is considered one of the most food-secure countries on earth, as it produces the vast majority of the food that is consumed locally. Food availability at a national level, however, does not guarantee adequate access at a local level: in 2022, more than 2 million Australian households experienced severe levels of food insecurity (Foodbank Australia, 2022). Only 2 in 5 households across this population received support from communities or social organisations.  

Food distribution is a key mechanism to ensure food accessibility and overall food security. It involves logistic complexities and timely delivery of perishable food and goods, which in turn requires cost-effective food transportation. Effective identification of vulnerable households and communities, and timely transportation of food can help reduce food waste and enable the efficient delivery of surplus food to people in need.  

A geographic information system (GIS) provides digital maps to support effective and efficient food transportation. For example, a GIS map can show the original route on the ground that a food delivery truck moves from a distribution centre to the location of the recipient of the delivery. Through spatial analytics, GIS enables effective transportation by improving routing efficiency, better delivery speed and accuracy, and reducing costs.  

The objective of this research project is to develop a sustainable model to empower GIS to support the realisation of the right to food. A sustainable model needs to enable the successful development and implementation of GIS as well as foster its continuous innovation by orchestrating financial, social, and regulatory resources. We will draw on stakeholder theory (Mishra & Dwivedi, 2012) and a socio-technical-economic view to develop the model.