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Approaching sustainable urban development in China through a food system planning lens (A message for Chinese planners about feeding cities)

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Approaching sustainable urban development in China through a food system planning lens (A message for Chinese planners about feeding cities)

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After more than two decades of rapid urbanization, Chinese cities now face severe sustainability challenges in terms of balancing economic viability, social justice, and environmental protection goals. While various types of planning have long been adopted to cope with these challenges, food as a centerpiece of daily life and of social and economic activity in cities has rarely been considered as a focus of urban planning in China, despite a lot of recent attention to food waste and food safety concerns. In contrast, over the past decade or more, cities in the west have seen food system planning emerge as a holistic lens to promote multifaceted urban development strategies. Community gardens and neighbourhood farmers’ markets are two common examples. In these strategies, food has been recognized as a powerful element that links closely with multiple economic, social, health, and environmental issues.
This paper thus calls for an integration of food issues into urban planning in Chinese cities. Our paper reviews some successful cases of food system assessments and planning in the west and provides a preliminary framework for food system planning in China. The framework brings together various priorities: connecting people to the food system, community economic development, access to healthy food, ecological health, and integrated food policy. By applying this framework to examine urban food systems in China, our paper identifies strengths and challenges for achieving sustainability goals. This analysis also sets the stage for future research in urban food system planning in China.

After more than two decades of rapid urbanization, Chinese cities now face severe sustainability challenges in terms of balancing economic viability, social justice, and environmental protection goals. While various types of planning have long been adopted to cope with these challenges, food as a centerpiece of daily life and of social and economic activity in cities has rarely been considered as a focus of urban planning in China, despite a lot of recent attention to food waste and food safety concerns. In contrast, over the past decade or more, cities in the west have seen food system planning emerge as a holistic lens to promote multifaceted urban development strategies. Community gardens and neighbourhood farmers’ markets are two common examples. In these strategies, food has been recognized as a powerful element that links closely with multiple economic, social, health, and environmental issues.
This paper thus calls for an integration of food issues into urban planning in Chinese cities. Our paper reviews some successful cases of food system assessments and planning in the west and provides a preliminary framework for food system planning in China. The framework brings together various priorities: connecting people to the food system, community economic development, access to healthy food, ecological health, and integrated food policy. By applying this framework to examine urban food systems in China, our paper identifies strengths and challenges for achieving sustainability goals. This analysis also sets the stage for future research in urban food system planning in China.

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Approaching sustainable urban development in China through a food system planning lens (A message for Chinese planners about feeding cities)

  1. 1. Approaching sustainable urban development in China through a food system planning lens (A message for Chinese planners about feeding cities) Steffanie Scott Dept. of Geography & Environmental Management, University of Waterloo sdscott@uwaterloo.ca Zhenzhong Si zsi@uwaterloo.ca & Jenelle Regnier-Davies
  2. 2. http://env-blogs.uwaterloo.ca/ecoagchina/ Our background: 4-year research project
  3. 3. • Jenelle Regnier-Davis • Master's thesis, 2015Fake Meat and Cabbageworms: Connecting Perceptions of Food Safety and Household Level Food Security in Urban China
  4. 4. • My experience… • A networking and policy-making group …working on building a strong voice for a healthy food system in Waterloo Region • We are a group of representatives from key sectors and interests of the local food system …who share the goal of a healthier food system in Waterloo Region.
  5. 5. Nearly300foodsystemroundtables/foodpolicycouncilsinNAmerica
  6. 6. A regional food system
  7. 7. A spectrum of food system stakeholders Producers /harvester s processors distributors retailers consumers Organic farmers small and large scale CSAs Food services, restaurants Low income consumers Public Health (inspection, education) urban agriculture Retail shops small & large Neighbourhood markets, farm markets Emergency food distribution Planners (land use & zoning, bylaws, regulation) Institutional purchasers Community-based organizations, marketing boards, economic development organizations small and large scale Farmers & farm organizations Researchers, teachers fisherfolk
  8. 8. • A healthy, just, and sustainable food system is one in which all residents have access to, and can afford to buy, safe, nutritious, and culturally acceptable food that has been produced in an environmentally sustainable way, and that supports rural communities • Such a food system promotes social justice, population health, and profitable farms, reflects and sustains local culture, and supports ecological viability
  9. 9. • Food is not a traditional municipal responsibility • Most food systems issues are usually seen as provincial and national matters • But cities are food players • > 64 municipalities in Canada are engaged in food policy and practice • These municipalities are becoming “food policy entrepreneurs” using food to advance progress towards health, social, environmental, and economic objectives
  10. 10. Common areas for food policy initiatives
  11. 11. • Land property rights • The urban water sector • Urban labor market changes and social protection for urban informal workers • Wealth redistribution • Rebuilding residential space • Large urban redevelopment projects • Retail capital and production of new consumption spaces
  12. 12. • Need for combined planning approaches that address food security within ecological constraints, and the capacity to deal with food system shocks (e.g., price) and global environmental change (e.g., climate change) • China’s ‘Liveable City Standards’: only one of over 100 indicators related to food: “sufficient and quality food supply” (Wang and Shao 2010: 145) •  Urgent demand in China to develop ecologically sustainable rural & urban planning models that also ensure food security & safety
  13. 13. Agri-food sector transformations in China • Food safety scandals & environmental health threats • Loss of agricultural land (& farmers) to urbanization • Supermarketization • Dietary transition (fast food, meat-based diets)  skyrocketing health care costs (e.g., obesity, diabetes, heart disease)
  14. 14. Our ‘pitch’: how a food system approach can be appliedto Chinese cities… • Provides a lens for recognizing opportunities and challenges within the food system in China • Identifies ways to develop a more sustainable food system • Call for further research & action
  15. 15. Assets & opportunities for sustainable urban food systems in China • China has agricultural policy, but not food policy • Solutions must go beyond the technocratic • state-led • market-driven • citizen-led
  16. 16. More than crop yields… Social well-being & health Economic Environmental Food production Processing Distribution & exchange Retail & food access Consumption Management of food waste
  17. 17. Assets and opportunitiesfor sustainable urbanfoodsystemsin China Social well-being & health Economic Environmental Food production • Integration of small-scale producers • Need for ‘redignifying’ farming • Need for more land for recreational gardening (urban agriculture)… • Local/peri-urban food production… • Integration of small- scale producers • Investment in agriculture • Promotion of multi- functional agriculture— for education, food production and leisure (agri-tourism) • Agricultural land protection policies • Eco-agriculture standards & support for organic/green food production… • Need soil rehabilitation for urban & rural agriculture • Need to address biodiversity threats from urbanization
  18. 18. • Local/peri-urban food production • E.g., in 2007 Nanjing supplied 44% of its own grain crops 40% of its vegetables 20% of its pork 10% of fisheries 30% of poultry 15% of eggs
  19. 19. Ecological food quality standards
  20. 20. Geographical indication labelling
  21. 21. Typesof (especiallylocal-level) governmentsupportfor organic production • Market governance & promotion • Administering standards and testing • Organizing expos & other promotion for ecologically grown food • Facilitating (organic) farmers’ cooperatives • Accessing land • Land leasing (as a broker); providing land for CSAs (Little Donkey Farm, Big Buffalo farm) • Establishing eco-agricultural zones, agricultural parks, and demonstration bases • Financial support • “Dragon-head enterprises” • Loans with low or no interest • Subsidies for certification • Training & education
  22. 22. “Weekendfarming”:Rentedplots(forurbangardeners) nearChengdu,Sichuanprovince
  23. 23. Needfor more land for recreational gardening (urbanagriculture) • Expand opportunities for recreational garden plots •  Affordable safe food, connecting with nature, relaxation, physical exercise, education for children • See community gardens(社区农园)experience in Korea, Japan, North America • Also promote balcony/ container gardening (sometimes prohibited in Chinese cities)
  24. 24. Assets and opportunities Social well-being & health Economic Environmental Processing Reduce production of highly processed, non- nutritional food products; expand healthier options Local food processing infrastructure Local food processing
  25. 25. Assets and recommendations Social well-being & health Economic Environmental Distribution & exchange Retail & food access Access to fresh produce • Short food supply chains, provide employment • Diverse food distribution channels: local wet markets, convenience stores, supermarkets • Informal food sector/street food vending (to be strengthened, not eliminated—a basis for ‘inclusive growth’) • Opportunities for sustainable institutional food procurement • Emerging ‘alternative food networks’: ecological farmers markets (need stronger support), CSAs, buying clubs
  26. 26. Uncertified(self-declared)organic food& alternativefood networksin China • Based on consumers negotiating trust with producers - rather than trusting the quality assurance of certification • CSAs (& recreational gardening/plot rental) 社区支持农业 • Organic farmers’ markets 有机农夫市集 • Buying clubs 消费者共同购买团体 • Organic food 有机餐馆 restaurants
  27. 27. The Beijing Country Fair Beijing Youji Nongfu Shiji The first and the most influential farmers’ market
  28. 28. Criteria for farms to participate • No pesticides, synthetic chemical fertilizers, GM seeds used • Animals not caged, no unnecessary antibiotics or hormones • Independent small to medium size farms • Be open and transparent with customers about production methods (protect consumer rights) • For prepared foods: use no chemical additives, prepared in a traditional way
  29. 29. CSAs(Communitysupportedagriculturefarms)inChina
  30. 30. Fosterconnectionswithsmall-scaleecologicalfarmers • Smallholders are denigrated as inefficient and backward, and blamed for unsafe food • Yet supporting ecological practices of small scale farmers can • Improve rural livelihoods • Support biodiversity & soil fertility • Facilitates integration, rather than exclusion, within the emerging organic market (social justice concerns) • more easily build connections & trust with consumers & provide safe food • They should be supported to develop markets & get certification
  31. 31. Socialenterpriseorganic/naturalfoodrestaurants– e.g.,Tushengliangpin土生良品restaurant,Nanning,Guangxi
  32. 32. Assets and opportunities Social well-being & health Economic Environmental Consumption • Walkable access to buy fresh produce • Need to promote healthy diets, ethical consumption • Promote school gardens • Address food safety concerns by rebuilding trust, esp between consumers and producers, & reconnecting people to their ecosystems through food High demand for healthy/safe/clean food, but need to make (certified & non-certified) organic food more affordable… • Good public transit infrastructure for food shopping • Political will 很强的政 府意志 e.g., eco-city, low-carbon/planning • Need to promote sustainable diets (e.g., less meat/seafood) • Much consumer confusion about labels & standards •  need to build food literacy (state, private sector, and CBO roles)…
  33. 33. Buildfoodliteracy:public awarenessaboutthefood systemandorganicfood • About the dysfunctional global food system • Understanding what organic means and the challenges of production • Reasons why we should pay more for it • Realities of farmer livelihoods • Could learn from Taiwan? • Very few organizations are doing this work (changing value systems)
  34. 34. • Consumer Education • Advocacy • Networking • Farmer Education
  35. 35. Demandforhealthy/safe/cleanfoodishigh… adisplayoflocalwildvegetablesinarestaurantinChongqing
  36. 36. Need to make (certified and non-certified) organic food more affordable • Especially by supporting small-scale producers to gain certification and/or identify markets for their products • E.g., through alternative food networks
  37. 37. Assets and opportunities Social well-being & health Economic Environmental Management of food waste Could redistribute unsold food to disadvantaged groups Employment opportunities in recycling food waste and packaging • Starting to tackle food waste (consumer-level) • Need to reduce food packaging • Need for better waste separation (recycling, biodegradable), re- directing ‘waste’ for composting • Could redistribute unsold food to disadvantaged groups
  38. 38. Abstract: Green building codes normally consider self-sufficiency of energy and water. Their highest aspiration is to build zero carbon buildings (ZCB) or zero energy buildings (ZEB). However, a zero-energy building is not sustainable, as it does not take into account the self-sufficiency of food and waste. This paper puts forward a novel planning model to approach a zero-food waste and zero-(organic) waste community (ZFW community), paving the way to achieve a truly sustainable community with four-zeros on energy, water, food, and waste. It considers a community of 40-ha land accommodating 10,000 persons. If 8-ha farmland is additionally provided, then it can achieve 100% self- sufficiency in fertilizer (organic waste) and 40% self-sufficiency in vegetables. It does not only save carbon dioxide emission due to transportation of food and waste, but it also helps reduce 40% of the landfill space. A Novel Planning Model for Approaching a Zero-Food Waste and Zero-Waste Community Chung Yim Edward Yiu, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Department of Geography and Resource Management & Bente Castro Campos, Institute of Future Cities 2014
  39. 39. Adopt a‘foodsystems’(食物系统) approachtoplanning &integratedpolicy Cross-sector dialogues for regional food planning…
  40. 40. • Signed (in Oct 2015) by over 100 city mayors world wide - including Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing Urban policy framework for action • Governance • Diet & nutrition • Social and economic equity • Food production • Food supply & distribution • Food waste
  41. 41. OpportunitiesforIntegratingFood& Agriculture intoSustainableCommunityPlanning
  42. 42. State, privatesector, and CBO roles… Social well-being & health Economic Environmental Food production Processing Distribution & exchange Retail & food access Consumption Management of food waste
  43. 43. Conclusions • There is much scope for food system planning at the level of city regions in China • There are some key assets that should be preserved and supported. And there are key opportunities for further development.

Notizen

  • https://my.spokanecity.org/news/stories/2014/11/21/what-food-policy-in-spokane-means-for-you/
  • Looking at the results that emerged from Food system assessments in North America, which offered positive examples for improved policy or community action in regards to food systems
     so we sought to apply a similar lens to looking at the food system in China to examine opportunities for change towards greater food system ‘sustainability’


  • Chart appears linear to emphasize the types of stakeholders, but system is not linear in reality.
    In fact we want to make it less linear and more interactive.
  • Waterloo Region Food Charter
  • Municipal Food Policy Entrepreneurs
  • links between core municipal activities and a wide variety of food system actions and people, reflecting how actions by one group in the system affect other groups, as well as affecting the environment, the economy, the fabric of society, the health of the population, and ultimately, consumers.
  • Municipal Food Policy Entrepreneurs, p.24
  • China’s ‘Liveable City Standards’: only one of over 100 indicators related to food: “sufficient and quality food supply” (Wang and Shao 2010: 145).
  • Dragon-head enterprise is recognized by the Chinese government as the pivotal key player in agriculture industrialization
    But these incentives typically go to larger-scale or more capital-intensive producers.

    Why?
    Access to land
    Financial challenge
    Lack of private standards
    Motivations
    Exports
    Agricultural industrialization & modernization
    Administrative performance
    Food safety anxiety & consumer demand
    Differentiations
    Conventional vs. ecological
    Independent farms vs. governmental projects
  • [Anlong is another well-known CSA from early days (2007); is a group of 7 farms, started with help from an NGO.]
    Some ecological farms rent out plots to urbanite gardeners [or here as a perk to members of a China airlines favoured customers group]

  • Zhang.
  • Other consumer assns and buying clubs, organic/natural food restaurants – are forging connections with uncertified trustworthy producers (individually screened).
  • Yiu, Chung Yim Edward and Castro Campos, Bente, A Novel Planning Model for Approaching a Zero-Food and Zero-Waste Community (January 8, 2014). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2376094 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2376094
  • New Rural Reconstruction Movement (NRRM)
  • An ideal sustainable food system considers fair compensation/workers’ rights; health/nutrition; food safety and dependability; builds the local economy; food is affordable and available; production does not impede on ecological systems
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