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Processes of Participation in the Development of Urban Food Strategies: A Comparative Assessment of Exeter and Eindhoven
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre. Wageningen University, The Netherlands.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6441-374X
Number of Authors: 22017 (English)In: Sustainability, ISSN 2071-1050, E-ISSN 2071-1050, Vol. 9, no 6, article id 931Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Urban food strategies are increasingly being used as means to address a multitude of challenges presented by food system failings. The use of participatory approaches has become common practice in the field of urban food systems planning. These approaches are believed to democratize, legitimize and increase effectiveness of addressing challenges. Despite these promises, they have also been viewed as problematic for being unbalanced and lacking accountability. This paper sets out to compare the creation and use of new participatory spaces in two initiatives in two European cities in their on-going attempts to formulate urban food strategies through multi-actor processes. This is explored through operationalisation of two key concepts essential to participatory approaches: participation and accountability. As such, the paper addresses how participatory processes for urban food strategies can be conceptualised when policy making involves the interplay of actors, knowledges and spaces. We conclude that within the two cases, ample attention is given to get a cross-section of the types of participants involved, while accountability is an aspect still under-represented. Based on the two cases, we argue that incorporation of accountability in particular will be instrumental in the development and implementation of more mature urban food strategies. However, it is essential for participatory processes to not completely break from more traditional policy processes, at risk of limiting progress in strategy development and deployment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 9, no 6, article id 931
Keywords [en]
participatory processes, urban food strategies, accountability, food policy
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences Social and Economic Geography
Research subject
Sustainability Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-145235DOI: 10.3390/su9060931ISI: 000404133200062OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-145235DiVA, id: diva2:1128697
Available from: 2017-07-27 Created: 2017-07-27 Last updated: 2018-12-20Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Shaping sustainable food systems: Local participation in addressing global challenges
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Shaping sustainable food systems: Local participation in addressing global challenges
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The current unsustainable trajectory of food systems puts the social and ecological processes and functions on which human flourishing depends at risk. This last decade has seen, on one hand, continued insistence on transformative action and on the other, uncertainty and instability with respect to traditional, established institutions, such as the state. As a response, new configurations of actors are aiming to participate in food system governance. New governance arrangements that increasingly lean on civic actors are considered as windows of opportunity, but their possible pitfalls have received less attention. This thesis seeks to understand and explain how the participation of new actors in the food system contributes to transformative change towards sustainable food systems. In order to achieve this, this thesis develops and applies a novel interdisciplinary approach, which combines: a food systems perspective, theories concerning food system governance, transformation, participation and the creation of transformative futures.

The four papers each investigate essential elements for transformative change towards sustainable food systems. Each paper represents different empirical cases, but the papers’ theories build on each other. Paper I starts by setting out a transdisciplinary understanding of food systems in terms of structure and dynamics beyond existing frameworks, built on co-design through a science-policy dialogue. It unpacks the idea of sustainable food systems across four elements: nutrition and diet, economic impacts, environmental impacts, and social equity. Paper II explores food systems change, through the case of food banks in Europe; civil initiatives that address food poverty by handing out surplus food parcels. By comparing initiatives from the Netherlands, Italy and Ireland, their transformative impact on food systems is reviewed. Paper III goes on to interrogate the role of participation in change processes. It does this through an assessment of the extent to which participation is properly executed in policy processes that aim to democratise and ‘open-up’ the making of an Urban Food Strategy. It does so by comparing the case of Eindhoven, the Netherlands and Exeter, United Kingdom. Finally, paper IV is focused on how imagined futures affect participatory change processes. It focuses on the use of future-oriented participatory methods, foresight, and their implications for transformative change. The paper contributes to the field of foresight by formulating several levels of ambition for transformative change associated with foresight processes, and a number of different roles for the researcher to take in processes of change. 

The papers establish a new understanding of food systems, followed by insights into food systems change, the role of participation in change processes, and how imagined futures affect this participation. Together, they demonstrate the benefits of buildingon food system knowledges from, from different spheres – i.e. public, private and civil as well as across different scientific research disciplines. The thesis concludes that a concrete, actionable understanding of how participatory processes focused on present and future food systems, contribute to transformative change in food systems.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, 2018. p. 55
Keywords
food systems, sustainability, food governance, transformative change, participatory processes, participation, civil society, niche level, food policy, urban food, urban agriculture, food poverty, imagined futures, foresight
National Category
Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Sustainability Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-160713 (URN)978-91-7797-478-9 (ISBN)978-91-7797-479-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-11-15, Vivi Täckholmsalen (Q-salen), NPQ-Huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Manuscript.

Available from: 2018-10-23 Created: 2018-10-02 Last updated: 2019-01-15Bibliographically approved

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