Towards Sustainable Food Systems: The Role of Food Policy Integration

As we strive towards food system transformation in a just and environmentally sustainable way, the path forward can be uncertain. The scientific article “Connecting the dots: Integrating food policies towards food system transformation”, authored by Ferne Edwards, Roberta Sonnino, and Marta López Cifuentes from the University of Surrey, highlights "food policy integration" as a key strategy for transforming food systems.

 

While many acknowledge the urgent need for transforming our food systems to address issues of social justice and environmental sustainability, confusion remains about how such goals can be achieved.  Food policy, which refers to collective actions such as strategies, institutions, and plans, is an approach that can help strengthen, formalise, and endorse sustainability efforts. However, in many cases the existing food policy often remains fragmented and uneven, failing to fully realise potential benefits as well as overlooking potential negative impacts across other policy sectors.

In this context, the concept of "food policy integration" emerges as a tool in driving food system transformation. The article conducts a critical review of the literature to examine how food policy integration is being implemented or put into practice. It explores opportunities for collaboration between sectors within governance institutions and identifies synergies between objectives. The article also examines specific aspects of the food system and related sectors that can be leveraged to initiate transformative change.

As a result, the study uncovers common themes and frameworks in existing literature, while also highlighting significant gaps where food policy integration is often confined within disciplinary silos, lacking explicit definition or clarity.

In order to effectively achieve food system transformation, the article calls for new research and policy agenda that welcomes diverse perspectives, utilises critical policy approaches, and promotes deeper integration of food-related issues with other sectors. It highlights the significance of promoting policy integration as a crucial strategy to achieve meaningful transformation of our food system. In addition, it emphasises the importance of moving beyond narrow disciplinary boundaries, and embracing a more holistic approach that includes diverse knowledge and critical perspectives.

- Written by our guest author and the researcher behind the reference article, Ferne Edwards.

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FoodCLIC is a four-year project funded by the EU. The project runs from September 2022 to February 2027. The acronym FoodCLIC stands for 'integrated urban FOOD policies – developing sustainability Co-benefits, spatial Linkages, social Inclusion and sectoral Connections to transform food systems in city-regions