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Food system sustainability across scales: A proposed local-to-global approach to community planning and assessment
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
Manchester Metropolitan University, GBR.
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
2017 (English)In: Sustainability, ISSN 2071-1050, E-ISSN 2071-1050, Vol. 9, no 6, article id 1061Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Interest in food systems sustainability is growing, but progress toward them is slow. This research focuses on three interrelated challenges that hinder progress. First, prevailing visions lack a concrete definition of sustainability. Second, global level conceptions fail to guide responses at the local level. Third, these deficiencies may lead to conflicting initiatives for addressing sustainable food systems at the community level that slow collective progress. The purpose of this article is to (1) describe the development of a framework for assessing food system sustainability which accommodates local-level measurement in the context of broader national and global scale measures; and (2) to propose a process that supports community determinacy over localized progress toward sustainable food systems. Using a modified Delphi Inquiry process, we engaged a diverse, global panel of experts in describing "success" with respect to sustainable food systems, today's reality, and identifying key indicators for tracking progress towards success. They were asked to consider scale during the process in order to explore locally relevant themes. Data were analyzed using the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development (FSSD) to facilitate a comprehensive and systematic exploration of key themes and indicators. Key results include a framework of indicator themes that are anchored in a concrete definition of sustainability, stable at national and global scales while remaining flexible at the local scale to accommodate contextual needs. We also propose a process for facilitating community-level planning for food system sustainability that utilizes this indicator framework. The proposed process is based on insights from the research results, as well as from previous research and experience applying the FSSD at a community level; it bears promise for future work to support communities to determine their own pathways, while contributing to a more coordinated whole. © 2017 by the author.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
MDPI AG , 2017. Vol. 9, no 6, article id 1061
Keywords [en]
Backcasting, Community development, Indicators, Sustainable development, Sustainable food systems
National Category
Other Environmental Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-14901DOI: 10.3390/su9061061ISI: 000404133200184Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85021151663OAI: oai:DiVA.org:bth-14901DiVA, id: diva2:1120334
Note

Open access

Available from: 2017-07-06 Created: 2017-07-06 Last updated: 2019-11-27Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Inviting Community into the Development of Globally Sustainable Food Systems
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Inviting Community into the Development of Globally Sustainable Food Systems
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Food systems and human diets contribute to unsustainable socioecological conditions, which in turn negatively affect human health. These driver-impact relationships span multiple scales, prompting international governance bodies, nations, and communities alike to grapple with solutions for a better food future. Collaborative action across scales and sectors is necessary; however, how communities can align contributions with efforts at broader scales is unclear.

The aim of this research is to develop theoretical and procedural supports for community engagement in globally sustainable food systems (SFS), and to provide concrete results relevant to one case community.

The community of nutrition and dietetics professionals was chosen as the case community given its history of engagement with SFS, its integration throughout food system sectors, and because dietary shifts have significant potential to contribute to SFS. Furthermore, the researcher’s position as a member of this community supported the case study work.

The research uses transdisciplinary methods guided by the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development (FSSD) and Community Development theory. The FSSD provides a concrete definition of sustainability and includes methodological supports for co-creation of sustainability transitions. Community Development theory supports participatory approaches and welcomes different knowledge cultures in such co-creation. The Delphi Inquiry method was used to facilitate data collection and community engagement. For measurement-specific elements of the research, causal loop diagrams (CLD) informed by the Cultural Adaptation Template (CAT) theory were used, and Critical Dietetics was used as a framework for dietetics-specific analysis.

High level insights include that: (i) participatory and multidimensional approaches are important to facilitate community engagement in SFS development; (ii) objective parametres for defining sustainability are critical to guide concerted action and can provide an innovation space that invites creative and diverse solutions within; (iii) systems thinking and related tools help simplify the complexity of food systems without disregarding broader context, and support assessment in the absence of all data. Specifically in relation to the case community explored, insights include that, (i) integrating an SFS lens into existing roles and activities is important, because dietitians already work across sectors and scales, making them well positioned to contribute in diverse ways; (ii) a shared language based on transdisciplinary understandings of SFS is required; (iii) engaging in activities that facilitate SFS knowledge development within the profession, prior to integrating it into roles and activities, is an important first step; (iv) collaborative and reflexive approaches to continued knowledge development and practice are important, such that in the end sustainability becomes integrated into a cultural way of thinking about food.  

Based on these insights, this dissertation outlines a procedure for collaborative community work for globally SFS. The procedure is adaptable to various community settings. The dissertation also provides specific guidance for how dietitians could utilise their strategic positions throughout food systems to contribute to SFS development.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlskrona, Sweden: Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, 2019. p. 246
Series
Blekinge Institute of Technology Doctoral Dissertation Series, ISSN 1653-2090 ; 15
Keywords
Sustainable food systems; strategic sustainable development; sustainable community development; nutrition; dietetics
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified Nutrition and Dietetics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:bth-18803 (URN)978-91-7295-389-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-12-20, J1650 (Campus Gräsvik), Karlskrona, 09:30 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-11-28 Created: 2019-11-27 Last updated: 2019-12-06Bibliographically approved

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Carlsson, LieselCallaghan, EdithBroman, Göran

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