Our food system is failing us, particularly the poor, vulnerable and marginalised in society. It is beset with myriad challenges – significant inequality in access to food; widespread food and nutrition insecurity; the effects of biodiversity loss, ecological destruction and climate change; the impact of urbanisation trends; and failures of governance. These challenges are indicative of the polycrisis facing the world – the intersection and interaction of failing economic, environmental and social systems. Global transitional processes and emergent zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19 are exacerbating the polycrisis, with disproportionate impacts on vulnerable groups.
There is much debate about how to respond to these challenges. Some argue that we must increase food production using scientific methods, others that we must change the food regime (control of the means of production) and yet others argue that we must work from the bottom-up in society to enable different forms of engagement and action in the food system.
An interesting lens through which to view the intersection of these food-related challenges is at the urban scale – where the polycrisis manifests in diverse ways and where the urban context informs both the challenges and potential solutions. One emergent solution to solving the food system crisis at the urban scale is through alternative approaches to urban food governance.
This report focuses on the different approaches to and positions on urban food governance. It explores scales of governance and concepts of urban food systems and questions their applicability and how other processes impact on them. It also explores the role of societal and community-level agency in disrupting current models of urban food governance and supporting the emergence of more equitable and appropriate ones.