The role of local authorities in shaping local food systems

Zerbian, Tanya, Adams, Mags orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8949-1381, Dooris, Mark T orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5986-1660 and Pool, Ursula orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-3658-3346 (2022) The role of local authorities in shaping local food systems. Sustainability .

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Given the importance that current food-related challenges pose to our society, the potential of local food initiatives to address sustainability has gained increased attention. Nevertheless, research has increasingly demonstrated that local food initiatives are limited in fulfilling their sustainability potential. This realisation has led many scholars to argue that the path towards food system transformation needs to be based on interconnected networks of these ‘alternative’ practices – what this paper terms local food systems. Nevertheless, as many local food initiatives rely on funding and volunteer work, their capacity to create infrastructures for integrated approaches is limited. In this context, influential players – those who can provide resources, such as local authorities – become key in the assemblage of local food systems. However, there is limited understanding of how the role of local authorities affects the internal dynamics of local food systems and potential outcomes. This study addresses this research gap by analysing two case studies (Preston, England and Vitoria-Gasteiz, Basque Country). Using urban political ecology (UPE) as a theoretical framework, this study offers original insight into the key governance elements affecting the direction of local food systems and thus the alignment of diverse local food initiatives, limiting their sustainability potential.

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