Local food strategies as a stepping-stone in global sustainability: applying Hajer’s sustainability perspectives to Ghent

Maarten Crivits, Charlotte Prové, Thomas Block, Joost Dessein, Vera Dua

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    In this essay, we will explore how the city of Ghent can deploy a local food strategy, which is aligned with important objectives and rationales related to the agenda of sustainable development. In a recent contribution to the journal Sustainability, Hajer et al (2015) elaborate a nuanced critique on how to re-describe the potential of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): a set of globally binding targets and goals that will be adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015. They warn for what they term ‘cockpit-ism’, i.e. the illusion that top-down steering by governments alone can address global problems. They argue that multiple perspectives on sustainable development are needed in order to engage civil society, business and local actors and respond to their needs, interests and capacities. They propose four connected perspectives that can strengthen the transformative potential of global sustainability: (1) planetary boundaries; (2) the safe and just operating space; (3) the energetic society and (4) green competition.
    While the authors focus on a scale and dimension of global governance, we would like to strengthen the importance of the local level and bottom-up initiatives and also argue that similar challenges and opportunities play at this local level. We aim to show that in the context of local food strategies and urban agriculture (UA), ‘cockpitism’ is a similar danger. We show how the City of Ghent – as any other city in Belgium/ understandable due to its intrinsic complexity – is searching to find its position as mediator, facilitator and innovator in the deployment of a local food strategy. By adopting the proposed four perspectives to the case of local food strategies we hope to overcome overly abstract or technical approaches to sustainability and provide policy makers, stakeholders and citizens with a renewed focus on the potentialities of UA. In a discussion we reflect on each of the four perspectives in relation to the city’s local food strategy and its governance of UA, by referring to the concept of food sovereignty as an overarching concept. In addition we point out the relevance and importance of acknowledging mutual influence of different local food strategies all over the globe, showing how the ‘local’ is anchored in global dimension of sustainable development. We conclude by offering a series of insights for local policy makers.
    Oorspronkelijke taalEngels
    Aantal pagina’s12
    PublicatiestatusGepubliceerd - 12-jun.-2015
    EvenementLocal Urban Food Policies in the Global Food Sovereignty Debate - Gent, België
    Duur: 11-jun.-201512-jun.-2015


    ColloquiumLocal Urban Food Policies in the Global Food Sovereignty Debate


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