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Exploring challenges and pathways in city-region food system transformation: action research, researcher reflexivity and experiential case studies 
Jonathan Luger (Athena Institute)
Marjoleine van der Meij
Ana Ramirez Santos (Leitat Technological Center)
Einar Braathen (OsloMet - Oslo Metropolitan University)
Baha Kuban (Demir Enerji)
Cristina Yacoub López (Leitat)
David Wilde (Leitat Technological Center)
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Barbara Regeer (Athena Institute, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
Combined Format Open Panel

Short Abstract:

This session explores structural challenges and change pathways in the context of city-region food system transformation. We invite of experiential case studies exploring these and reflexive researcher perspectives on making and/or doing (food) system transformations.

Long Abstract:

Agri-food systems face and drive many ecological and social issues (Rockström et al., 2020). Those involved in changing them, among which might be governments, farmers, supermarkets, vendors, social services, researchers, activists, and more, are often challenged in implementing alternatives. From an understanding that unequal power relations are at the core of this (Clapp & Fuchs, 2009), and that reconfiguring those offers pathways out of this predicament (Rossi et al., 2019), we ask: what are the challenges encountered by those currently coordinating or involved in city-region food system transformation processes, and how might they do things differently in these processes, i.e. how to power (cf. Kok et al., 2021). Adopting a transdisciplinary approach that fosters reflexive learning for sustainability transitions (Popa et al., 2015), we view the process of (un)learning, vital for radical change, as a collective endeavor involving problem framing, solving, experimentation, and learning. In our own action research (2020-present) with practitioners in cities across Europe, core challenges/pathways that arise are: (1) incumbent politics vs advocacy; (2) projectification vs long-term; (3) ‘stakeholder engagement’ vs responsiveness and ownership; (4) growth vs degrowth. During this open panel session, we would like to reflect on possible interventions (‘making’) and new day-to-day practices (‘doing’) to address systemic barriers in food system transformation, as well as critical perspectives on how we might perpetuate (or not) dominant power in of how we continuously make and do transformations. We envision paper contributions such as: case studies and experiential accounts on one or more of the abovementioned themes; researchers’ reflexive or autoethnographical perspectives on making or doing transformations. Notably, we welcome creative workshop, dialogue session and paper contributions that not merely describe, but offer making and doing-focused accounts of ‘coming in between’, ‘steering’, ‘opening up’, or ‘disrupting’ processes of food system transformation in particular, and transformations more broadly.

Accepted contributions: