Building Resilience in Urban Food Systems

Research, Completed

The challenge of scaling-up alternative food distribution networks. FWO PhD fellowship funding.

Joint PhD with Planning & Development Unit of the KU Leuven (PhD supervisor Frank Moulaert)

The growing concern of many local authorities about food system planning - resulting in a constellation of programs, policies, strategies for sustainable local food systems - has stimulated an expanding debate on urban food governance. This research connects to this debate by tackling an under-investigated question, i.e. what are the potentials and constrains for scaling up the impact of alternative food distribution initiatives. The research starts from the urban level, but articulates it and moves beyond it, looking at the implications of the scaling-up process for a multilevel and multi-scalar governance system. Although several contributions have already stressed the issue of scale in food system (re)localization, not enough attention has been given to the dynamic process of scaling up and building resilience. This research aims at tackling this issue theoretically and operationally.

A comparative analysis of international case studies will broaden an understanding of how cities are dealing with scaling-up processes in sustainable food procurement policies. In particular the representative cases of Vancouver, Toronto, London, Brussels and Paris are selected. The analysis will concentrate deeply on Brussels, assessing potentials and lock-ins in scaling-up alternative food distribution networks and envisioning future orientations.