What does a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic mean for the transition to a sustainable food system for cities? Dr. Sigrid Wertheim-Heck and Anke Brons write an essay regarding sustainability and resilience in the urban food debate. Their essay, Support Your Locals: On international solidarity in a resilient and sustainable urban food system, takes into context the recent COVID-19 crisis and how the pandemic has exposed the fragility of our food system.
"Support Your Locals: On international solidarity in a resilient and sustainable urban food system" was originally written (in Dutch) for the Flevo Campus essay bundle ‘Veerkracht als opdracht’ (Resilience as a mission). The essay has been translated into English and shared within the following article with the help and permission of the authors, dr. Sigrid Wertheim-Heck and Anke Brons.
What is this essay about?
What does a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic mean for the transition to a sustainable food system for cities? Using the concrete Dutch initiative Support Your Locals that emerged in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in this essay we address the question of what the mitigation of abrupt disruptions in the food production and consumption chain in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic can teach us about the transition to a more sustainable food system.
We show that creative initiatives inspired by local solidarity are not necessarily intended to restore the food system or to make it more sustainable, but rather aim at alleviating acute needs in the food chain. In this respect, we see a tension between national and international solidarity, between acute and longer-term needs, and between chain and systems perspectives (see figure 1). We conclude that, during the first lockdown, resilience was about solving acute, tangible and specific problems in the chain, but that a sustainability transition requires a longer-term and systemic approach with an international perspective. The transition to sustainable and resilient urban food systems will benefit from diversity in the production/consumption chains, with an eye for broader systemic implications, in which solidarity extends beyond national borders. The solution is not a priori local, but short supply chains are an essential part of it.
For more insights, read the essay!
Follow the link below to read the complete essay, 'Support Your Locals: On international solidarity in a resilient and sustainable urban food system'. In relation to the essay, Pakhuis de Zwijger talkshow interviews dr. Sigrid Wertheim-Heck and Anke Brons on this topic; the researchers reflect on 2020 through the lens of the food system and discuss their insights on sustainability and resilience in cities. Find the video and related information below.
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