The multiple and contested worlds of urban food governance: The case of the city of Valencia

Zerbian, Tanya, Escario-Chust, Ana, Palau-Salvador, Guillermo and Segura-Calero, Sergio (2023) The multiple and contested worlds of urban food governance: The case of the city of Valencia. Cities, 141 . ISSN 0264-2751

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Cities are positioned as critical actors in agri-food sustainability transitions through the implementation of food policy councils and food strategies for urban policymaking. Promoting participatory arrangements in food policymaking allows multiple actors to engage in a contested process of mutual learning that helps construct a common goal. The development of these multi-actor instruments has meant that social movements have had the possibility of reclaiming power in the governance spaces of cities, contributing to urban agri-food transitions. Nevertheless, while signalling that transition governance instruments can bring more inclusive and collective change, critical studies call for the need to pay attention to power dynamics in these processes. Drawing from this notion, this paper explores how diverse governance actors mobilise and execute power within and between two urban food governance instruments – an agri-food transition platform and a food policy council – in Valencia, Spain. The study contributes to urban food governance and sustainability transitions governance literature through raising three critical points regarding the potential of urban food governance processes for sustainability transitions: the longitudinal and cross-scale evaluation of power dynamics and subsequent tensions, the acknowledgement of different kinds of power, and the possible coexistence of different but symbiotic spaces for transition governance.

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