University of Tasmania
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Can contemporary Regional Development Literature identify a future for Islands? King Island, a case study

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posted on 2023-05-27, 14:58 authored by Coates, L
All forms of understandings are needed for a fuller, deeper appreciation of the island condition.‚ÄövÑvp (Baldacchino 2008, p50) This thesis takes an island case study ‚Äö- King Island, a small island south of the Australian mainland ‚Äö- and examines it through a range of literature based analytical frameworks. These include two streams of contemporary regional development literature and four streams of food systems literature in an attempt to gauge and understand the prospects for King Island's future as a sustainable agri-food based economy. Such an in-depth approach to the analysis of King Island is necessary so as to understand the island's metrics and enable the extraction of potential innovation platforms on which to build a sustainable future. The food systems literature analytical frameworks come from both the United States of America and Europe. The work of American sociologist Constance (2008) and his four questions for the current globalised food system asks about the impact of the control held by large multinational corporations in localised food systems on the agrarian, environmental, socio/cultural and emancipatory features of rural communities. The six fields of endeavour to support sustainable local food systems designed by the Centre for Whole Communities (2009) follows on from Constance as the second lens to be applied to the King Island data in an attempt to discover what it takes to have a truly sustainable local food system. The thesis then looks to Europe and the work of Wiskerke (2002) and Roep and Wiskerke (2010) to further analyse King Island in relation to the ten barriers confronted by local systems in a global market place, and the fourteen lessons learned while working with a number of producers and retailers across Europe in trying to establish sustainable local food systems. All four lenses reveal that King Island is not necessarily well placed to have a structurally sustainable local food system operating in a global market place. The thesis also finds however that while returns from primary production are declining on King Island, analysis of King Island though the regional development literature analytical frameworks reveals there is scope for a Regional Innovation System (RIS) (Cooke 2007) based on the islands traditional agri-food industries, beef and dairy. Further, when examined through the lens of the Regional Development Platform Method (RDPM) (Harmaakorpi & Pekkarinen 2003), avenues for development can be identified that may help the island community wrest back the value inherent in its two iconic brands, King Island Dairies and King Island Beef from the transnational companies that own them. Also revealed is the need for strong local governance of regional innovation systems, particularly those that rely on agri-food production. Governance of food systems has increasingly been vested in national, trans-national or supra-national organisations that rarely disperse value in their supply chains evenly or equitably. The RDPM can be used as a tool to identify gaps in governance, and suppose ways to redress the imbalances. While not a panacea for King Island's economic woes, the exercise of examining an island through a contemporary regional development lens is useful and valuable as it can aid an island community to identify their own assets and strengths and leverage them for themselves, creating a unique platform for sustainable development.


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