“Transitioning to sustainable city region food systems”

Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul  (Porto Alegre, Brazil) will be hosting the Third International AgriUrb Conference – Agriculture and Food in an Urbanizing Society. The conference will be held from September 17th to 21th, 2018.

While research into food system transformations is a rapidly expanding field, knowledge is still fragmented (Feola 2015). Much primary research on the mechanisms inhibiting system transformation, for example, are often discipline-specific. Previous syntheses of the mechanisms that maintain undesirable resilience (Scheffer et al., 2007; IPES-Food, 2016; Kuokkanen et al., 2017) have identified only a handful of mechanisms and have tended to exclude lessons from the environmental sciences (Robertson et al., 2005). Such fragmentation is hindering the development of coordinated solutions, and the development of less siloed approaches is needed for successful system transformations (European Environment Agency 2016; IPES-Food 2016; International Council for Science 2017). To facilitate this transition, we need to understand how to move towards increasingly sustainable food systems in cities and their regions. New assessment and methodological tools are required to interrogate general assumptions about the sustainability of food systems.  Assumptions also need to be unpacked. For example, smaller scale food systems as inherently more desirable is a ‘local trap’, and we are urged to examine the research agendas and motivations of the people involved (Born and Purcell, 2006). Oliver et al (under review) highlight that resilience is undesirable when it perpetuates unsustainable practices and creates lock-in that works against sustainability transitions (Davoudi et al., 2013). In relation to implementation, there is a need to connect and embed food strategies into other policy streams (Sonnino, 2016). Often the temptation is to identify the city-region or metropolitan area as a uniformly defined or coherent scale of governance. However, such visions are riddled with pre-existing issues of social and environmental justice concerns that surround the uneven distribution of ecological assets (and their social returns), and the disproportionate environmental burdens among the economically disadvantaged in cities (Nunes, 2017). In this WG we will explore the potential difficulties, tensions and competing goals associated with applying the city region food systems approach (Dubbeling et al, 2017, FAO 2016). In particular are questions about 1. How to engage communities in the co-construction of tools, policies and programmes to determine how food system innovations and sustainability intersect? 2. How can we understand how/whether a sustainable transformation is taking place using participatory processes? 3. What planning takes place at a metropolitan level from the perspective of food; and, 4. What does it mean to transition to a just, sustainable metropolitan food economy?


  • Elodie Valette: Center for International Cooperation in Agronomic Research for Development – CIRAD (France);
  • Richard Nunes: Reading University (United Kingdom);
  • Nicolas Bricas: Center for International Cooperation in Agronomic Research for Development – CIRAD (France);
  • Michael Goodman: Reading University (United Kingdom);
  • Manuela Maluf Santos: Center for Sustainability Studies of the Getulio Vargas Foundation– GVces (Brazil);
Abstracts must be submitted by June 08, 2018.
For further information on submission, please visit

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