IUFN's Special Session Aesop6 2014

Designing a Food Planning Tool – Synthesis of IUFN’s special session at AESOP 6th

IUFN’s special session on ‘Designing a Food Planning Tool’ was a workshop held during the 6th international AESOP Sustainable Food Planning Conference Finding space for productive cities on November 7th 2014, hosted in Leeuwarden (The Netherlands) by VHL University. The conference gathered more than 100 participants (researchers, urban designers, urban planners, policy makers and NGOs representatives from all over the world) around the issue of urban agriculture and urban planning in favour of sustainable food systems.

Even though food planning becomes an increasingly popular subject in research and individual cities throughout the last years, food tends to be underappreciated and not perceived as relevant planning issue by the mainstream. City administrations typically argue that the free market should be responsible for food production and distribution, not the public hand. If municipalities talk about it, it is often framed as the competition between two mutually exclusive land uses: the conservation of agricultural land vs. (housing) development. Thirdly, pioneering local authorities that do prioritise food on their agenda as a political statement (be it to increase the number of urban agriculture projects or public provisioning programmes) appear be able to addressing the issue only qualitatively instead of making it the result of a deliberative decision making process that quantitatively analyses food and non-food benefits.

Thus, the conference’s umbrella topic ‘finding space for productive cities’ did not only invite participants to ask where food should be produced in the physical space, but also what place it should have in institutions and planning processes.

Set as a participatory two-hour workshop, the special session was an opportunity to have a quick dive into the world of planning tools with food in mind. After the inspiring introductory words of Arnold Van de Valk, researcher at Wageningen UR/AESOP, the participants were invited to think outside the box and identify the underlying questions and challenges when thinking about a food planning tool – is there an actual need for new food planning tool? how should such tools be designed and work? what challenges would need to be considered and what could be possible ways forward?

Designing a Food Planning Tool – IUFN’s Special session AESOP6 – November 2014 – Synthesis - This document summarises the special session’s key findings.

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