Multi-Stakeholder and Multilevel Food Governance: The Case of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries

Multi-Stakeholder and Multilevel Food Governance: The Case of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries

Sérgio Pedro (Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2599-9.ch004
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Abstract

The contemporary food system, in its global and local dimensions, is a central element of the debate on the sustainability of the planet, a debate that increasingly involves more stakeholders and areas of knowledge in the search for answers to the multiple questions related to the attainment of more sustainable patterns for food and agriculture. The present chapter analyses the participative multi-stakeholder and multilevel model of food governance of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), in which stakeholders from different societal and expertise sectors participate in equal manners in the process of co-construction of institutional, technical, and financing measures for the functioning of a given food system. The present chapter has the main goal of sharing and critically analysing the CPLP´s institutional context for the promotion of sustainable food systems as an example of an integrated methodological approach to support the creation of coordinated public policies and institutional conditions to implement a transition to more sustainable food systems and diets.
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Introduction

The contemporary food system, in its global and local dimensions, is a central element of the debate on the sustainability of the planet and the future of life that inhabits it. It encompasses the entire range of actors and their interlinked value adding activities involved in the production, aggregation, processing, distribution, consumption, and disposal of food products that originate from agriculture, forestry or fisheries. Food systems are constructed upon the interconnection of economic, social and environmental dimensions, being a common thread linking all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The multidisciplinary approach to the complexity of the current global food system challenges increasingly involves more stakeholders and areas of knowledge in the search for answers to the multiple questions related to food, coupled with the clear trend towards a global integration of food systems and economic consolidation and mergers between agribusiness corporations in the global food system (Feenstra, 2002; IPES Food, 2017). Other factors reveal the unsustainable status quo of the contemporary global food system. We highlight the contribution of the agricultural sector to the global greenhouse gas emissions (9%) (IPCC, 2015) and the US$3.5 trillion and US$500 billion per year that represent respectively, the global costs of malnutrition and obesity (WHO, 2018). Likewise, environmental degradation of soils, water quality, biodiversity loss (IPCC, 2015), the accentuation of chronic diseases related to poor diet and excessive ingestion of food chemicals (McKinsey Global Institute, 2014), and other negative impacts on agriculture and food systems reveal the challenges of food systems to achieving food and nutrition security, the implementation of the human right to adequate food and nutrition and, consequently, the Agenda 2030 objectives (Pedro, 2019).

These goals, as evidenced by recent macro research (Willett et al., 2019; IPCC, 2015), will not be achieved without the consideration of the natural resources of the planet and social impacts of the global food system as key parts of the sustainability equation. Thus, from the foregoing, the global food system needs an urgent transition towards promoting sustainable practices and creating regenerative, resilient and fair food systems, in order to protect the environment, promote biodiversity, traditional knowledge and cultures, and healthy diets (Pedro, 2018). This transition is as urgent as the social and economic impacts of unhealthy diets which are increasing and the impacts of climate change which are more evident, including the loss of traditional food systems and their associated cultural heritage (Willett et al., 2019).

The need for this transition is recognized in several global fora and covers a diverse thematic range of initiatives, which are increasingly linked to the dynamism and lessons learnt by governments, civil society, academia and the private sector in a relevant set of territories.

Although there are existing political commitments towards food governance, defined in this chapter as: the process that gathers different stakeholders in the design of public policies and institutional, technical, and financing measures for the functioning of the food system, there is still a lack of knowledge and concrete institutional and legal frameworks to guide the implementation of sustainable food policies in the national and local territories (Lever, Sonnino & Cheetham, 2019). With the aim of raising awareness of such frameworks, this chapter seeks to contribute to the conceptualization of multi-stakeholder and multilevel models of food governance as viable options. Thus, it is necessary to make a broad discussion about the goals, pros and cons, of the multi-stakeholder and multilevel models and the impacts of the resulting public policies for the transition to more sustainable food systems- which are food systems that deliver food security and nutrition for all, in such a way that the economic, social, and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrition for future generations are not compromised.

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