Four Perspectives of Sustainability Applied to the Local Food Strategy of Ghent (Belgium): Need for a Cycle of Democratic Participation?
As part of cities’ increasing commitment to sustainable development, local food systems are becoming a policy priority. In this article we focus on the case of a local food system in Ghent, Belgium. We adopt the notion of Hajer et al. (2015) that top-down steering of environmental issues (so-called “cockpit-ism”) is insufficient, incomplete and in need of revision. Using their four perspectives on sustainable development (Hajer et al., 2015), we explore, analyze and valorize the potential of the actors, motives and logics for change within the agriculture and food system in the Ghent region. Applying these four perspectives, we have mapped the current positive developments as well as identified the weaknesses, pitfalls and opportunities of a local food strategy. The discussion section contains two important strategies for good governance of sustainable urban development: first, a governance approach to stimulate participation and representation in a complex, unequal and rapidly changing context; and second, a reflection on how local food strategies can drive global sustainability. In conclusion, we argue for the integration of a global sustainability approach within sustainable urban development.
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