Promising insights into local pathways to food and nutrition security

A major part of the TRANSMANGO project, was the interrogation of locally enacted pathways to address food system vulnerabilities and ensure food and nutrition security. Although food system vulnerabilities have been subject to a variety of global and national interventions, programmes and policies, these have not been able to fully address these challenges.

The starting point for WP6 was the assumption that food systems cannot be understood as uniform. ‘Local’ actors too attempt to address food system vulnerabilities within their locality and in doing so may offer promising and resilient practices. The recently published local food and nutrition security (FNS) pathways reports showcase a rich diversity of practices found at the local level and can serve as insights for policy-makers at EU and local level. The cases have been synthesised in D6.4.

Workshops scenarios

Figure 1. Visualisation of scenarios and pathways to sustainable food systems (Talitha Dijkhuizen 2016)

Local diversity

In November 2015, we reported about the local FNS pathways that were selected to serve as WP6 case studies. Coming from a vulnerabilities perspective, every partner selected one case that addressed food system vulnerabilities from an entitlement-point of view and one from a self-reliance point of view. The majority of the selected cases were focused on ‘consumption’ and ‘bottom-up’ practices, as this field remains underrepresented (in comparison to the production-side). Find below an overview of the final reports describing the 18 cases over a total of 10 reports.

Table 1. Overview of the local FNS pathways case studies and links to the respective reports.
  Principle Case Satellite Case
(Silvasti and Tikka 2016)
Home Emergency Preparedness Public Catering Practices
(Carroll and O’Connor 2016)
Cork Food Policy Council BIA Food Initiative
Italy Food Assistance in Tuscany
(Arcuri et al. 2016)
Land access in the metropolitan area of Rome
(Grando et al. 2016)
(Zwart et al. 2016)
(Consumer Purchasing Groups)
Community Supported Agriculture
(Grivins et al. 2016)
Healthy Food For Schoolgoers in Latvia Small Farm Involvement in School Meal Provisioning in Tukums Region
(Hebinck and Villarreal 2016)
Dutch Food Bank Practices Urban Food Practices in the Netherlands
(Cerrada-Serra et al. 2016)
New initiatives of peri-urban agriculture Food and Nutrition Security in remote rural areas
(Moragues-Faus et al. 2016)
Sustainable Food Cities Network Access to fruit and vegetables in the city
(Mhamba 2016)
Urban School Food System Lunch eaters in Dar es Salaam

Synthesizing via re-design principles

Five principles along which food systems have been redesigned have been distilled out of the practices explored in the cases. Here we briefly summarise these principles, while a full detailed overview can be found in the synthesis report D6.4.

Synthesising the diversity of local cases along these Re-design principles (ReDPs), firstly, shows the interrelation of food system vulnerabilities that are addressed by local actors. Secondly, it highlights that similar issues are in many different ways addressed on the local level throughout Europe. This is of importance as it provides insights into the potential contributions to alleviation and mitigation of societal FNS concerns on both local and EU level. The first three of these ReDPs that have been extracted from the cases are practice-led and address three major FNS problems:

  • ReDP 1. Re-enforcing food entitlements of traditional and newly emerging vulnerable groups
  • ReDP 2. Re-connecting sustainability and health
  • ReDP 3. Re-linking food systems that foster urban-rural synergies

Most cases show particular emphasis on one of the ReDPs – like the Italian case of food assistance has strong emphasis on addressing ReDP 1 on food entitlements. However, all cases combine multiple ReDPs within their practices in varying degrees often strengthening FNS practices. For example within the Latvian case, food entitlements (ReDP 1) and the strengthening of urban-rural linkages (ReDP 3) strongly come to the fore.

The final two ReDPs are geared towards governance features in the redesigning of FNS practices. In unravelling the governance ideas embedded in the local case studies, we found two lenses particularly present.

  • ReDP 4. Re-balancing socio-technological engineering
  • ReDP 5. Re-thinking resilience building (shock and/or stress components)

The fourth principle refers to stakeholder’s ideas, trust, confidence and preferences in relation to the socio-technological component of FNS governance. This is for example strongly addressed in the case of Community Supported Agriculture in Belgium, while to a lesser extent in the Spanish case of FNS in remote areas. The fifth ReDP takes the presence of differences in temporalities of FNS governance explicitly into account. Governance arrangements may specifically address systemic shocks – more short-term oriented – or systemic stresses – disruptive long-term dynamics. As for example is visible in the Dutch case on Urban Agriculture, the main emphasis is on the creation of a more sustainable food systems; which is an attempt of addressing shocks through systemic change. This shows that FNS (re-)designing is also about how stakeholders position and re-think their positioning vis-à-vis different expressions of resilience building, with practices and ideas.

Overall, these FNS re-design assemblages underpin the complexity, unpredictability and fluidity of processes of change and inter-dependencies between old and new assemblages. These are empirical illustrations of the wickedness of how to move towards more holistic, coherent and sustainable FNS governance and policy making. But above all, they show that FNS unfolds as spaces of engagement and contestation. Based on the WP6 work we argue that in order to develop pathways to sustainable food systems that deliver FNS, there is a need to nurture of practice-led FNS assemblages like those explored through the local cases. To further strengthen such assemblages, it requires a fostering of place and space specific FNS policy; enhancement of chain-based and cross-sectoral cooperation and boundary spanning; and lastly rethinking of FNS futures, -roles and – responsibilities. These findings will together with the findings of other work packages feed into work package 7 on policy recommendations.


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