Cities are hotspots of food consumption and, as a result, major drivers of food related impacts worldwide. Food consumption related impacts concern, on the one hand, local and global environmental impacts such as air pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss and, on the other hand, socio-economic spillovers in terms of employment, value added and investments in producing regions. Furthermore, urbanization and food supply chain concentration is associated with changing dietary patterns, increasing food trade and larger embodied fossil fuel use, contributing to the need and notion of urban food strategies aiming at more sustainable food systems. So far, however, cities mainly develop “single-issue” initiatives but have not yet succeeded in successfully implementing an integrated policy approach that supports growing urban populations at lower environmental cost in the global resource system. In particular, cities tend to take a local sourcing approach but lack a quantitative analysis tool to assess and monitor its multiple sustainability dimensions in terms of socio-economic and environmental impacts. By embedding the growing city of Almere (The Netherlands) and the province of Flevoland in an environmentally extended multiregional input-output framework (EXIOBASE), this study connects different spatial scales and provides insights on potential sustainability impacts of urban food strategies in a systemic approach. After analyzing the properties of Almere’s current food system, largely connected to the world market, consumption based impacts of (1) the development of urban agriculture, (2) more regional sourcing and (3) a dietary shift, are modeled for the current and growing population of Almere in the global resource system.
(co-authored with Stefan Giljum and Eveline van Leeuwen)