Food and the City: Urban Scale Food System Governance

2015, Urban Forum 26(3): 263-281.

Food insecurity in urban areas, particularly in developing countries, is a persistent yet poorly understood phenomenon. Food security interventions have primarily focused on ensuring food availability, a focus that has resulted in predominantly production-oriented responses that presuppose a rural challenge, overlooking urban food insecurity challenges. This view generally precipitates welfarist or project-driven interventions in urban areas that are predominantly reactive, lacking strategic focus. Within the context of converging and mutually reinforcing global transitions, including the second urban transition, the food system transition and the nutrition transition, alternative urban food governance innovations are emerging. Urban food governance innovations are particularly evident in the Global North, with an emerging trend in South American cities. A gap exists in understanding food governance processes in growing South African cities, in particular how these processes intersect with a wider discourse on food system change. This paper draws on original analysis of emerging food governance trends and posits that a food lens offers opportunities to explore innovative forms of urban governance, participatory planning and citizen-driven food policy formulation.

Gareth Haysom