Over the last two decades, food movements have gained prominence in the Global North, advocating for a more sustainable and a fairer food system. Are they making a difference? And if so, how? In a book called Civil Society and Social Movements in Food System Governance, scholars give us a peek into social movements’ strategies for food system change. The book will help food movements better position their action to make an impact. It will also be useful for local authorities willing to work with them.
A UK-based team gathering a researcher and practitioners (Cardiff University, UK Sustainable Food Cities network) developed a toolbox that captures cities’ progress towards sustainable food. Their work shows that evaluation is not only about gathering data: it also means building a common narrative that inspires action.
Researchers looked into the effect of a Mayor's political support on a local food policy groups (such as 'food policy councils' and 'food partnerships'). They showed that the Mayor’s support can be a great asset, but can also be, in some instances, detrimental. Their work will help local food policy groups find the right way to work with local elected representatives.
As local food policy groups (also known as food policy councils, food councils, and food partnerships) have developed, so have national, regional, and international networks that connect them. What can we expect from such networks? A recent article analyses two well-established national food policy networks in the United States and the United Kingdom. Its conclusions will help any network to evaluate its role in advancing food systems change.
Participation is key to urban food policies. However, cities often fail to mobilise a variety of stakeholders beyond the “usual” urban food activists. In a paper published in 2018, Paul Thompson, from Michigan State University (United States), reminds us that food actors held very different viewpoints about what the future of the food system should be. Better understanding the imaginaries that drive food actors is therefore a useful first step to starting a dialogue with them.
For a long time, urban and regional planning was not much concerned with food. Since the 2000’s, however, food has become a topic planners discuss about. In a book called Integrating Food into Urban Planning, published in 2018, Yves Cabannes and Cecilia Marochinno gathered insights from various cities around the world about what planning can do to contribute to sustainable urban food systems.
FAO and RUAF have published a very comprehensive Toolkit called “Assessing and planning sustainable city region food systems”. This is the result of a 3 years journey with 7 cities to develop a methodology to analyse urban city food systems that any city around the world can apply.
Food justice is concerned with equity in all steps of the food system (from production to consumption). It is not easy for cities or regional governments to tackle food justice issues, as the margin of manoeuvre at the local level is limited. But they can still make a valuable contribution. Here is how.
How fast can food policies go given the actors, their interests and representations on a specific territory? The analysis of food policy in a French department (La Sarthe) from the 2000’s onwards reveals two strategies and highlights the importance of territorial coordination as a catalyzer for change.
The city of Basel (Switzerland) worked with a team of researchers from the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture to develop a “quick scan” of its existing actions without having to spend too much time to gather a lot of (and sometimes missing) data. This tool allows cities to compare their action with best practices from other cities and to identify untapped areas of work, while ensuring that local stakeholders get on board.