Local Food Networks and Policy Implementation in Christchurch and Dunedin: A Comparative Case Study
Concerns regarding the social, environmental and economic sustainability of the global industrialised food system continue to grow. Environmentally, the current food system is criticised as being responsible for contributing 14% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and degrading vital world ecosystem services. Socially, it fails to feed the world’s population, and has led to the ‘Westernisation’ of diets with rising rates of obesity and other illnesses. Access and resilience are also concerns, as the long supply chain of the current system is inherently fragile and susceptible to political and environmental disruptions. Lastly, the food system has also negatively impacted on rural economies as large corporations have commoditised food production. Due to these impacts, localisation has been viewed as a means in which sustainability can be achieved in the food system. Diverse local and ‘alternative’ food networks throughout the world are attempting to take back control of food system. At the same time, urban governments globally are beginning to engage with food issues, through local level policy and governance arrangements, most notably food policy councils. This research aims to explore and compare local food networks in both Christchurch and Dunedin, New Zealand, and also investigate how local councils could engage with and address food issues more effectively. An in-depth qualitative, comparative case study was undertaken to address this aim. ‘Our Food Network’ in Dunedin, and ‘Edible Canterbury’ in Christchurch were two local food networks investigated. This research established, that as with other contexts, there were numerous differences between the two networks in question, being formed through context-dependent social, economic and political processes. While both networks were concerned with food justice and resilience, they were employing different strategies to change. The presence of a key ‘staff champion’ in the Christchurch context enabled the group to work in a genuinely collaborative way and ‘scale-up’ its impact through the enactment of food policy. Conversely, the Dunedin group lacked this collaboration with Council and thus worked more independently to create change. Both councils viewed engaging with food issues as within the remit of local governments in New Zealand, however several barriers to this engagement were identified. This included that councils are just one player in a larger food system, and current approaches to food were viewed as un-coordinated. It was recommended that there is a need for councils to work in genuinely collaborative ways with grassroots initiatives, ensure activities and regulations reflect broader policy goals relating to food, and play a stronger advocacy and leadership role on food issues.
Advisor: Connelly , Sean
Degree Name: Master of Planning
Degree Discipline: Geography
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Local Food Policy; Alternative Food Networks
Research Type: Thesis