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Tropentag 2023, September 20 - 22, Berlin, Germany

"Competing pathways for equitable food systems transformation: trade-offs and synergies."

The state of urban food policy action in emerging Asia

Miriam E. Romero Antonio1, Steve Jaffee2, Navneet Kumar1

1University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF), Dept. of Economic and Technological Change, Germany
2University of Maryland, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics


While the important role of cities in food system transformation has long been understood, there is a more recent recognition that food-related outcomes also have an important influence on how well cities can achieve their own broad socio-economic and other aspirations. This recognition has led many cities, around the world, to engage more actively in food policies and programs. The literature documenting this experience is largely case study-based and primarily covers actions and outcomes in larger cities. We analyse the overall state of urban food policy across Asia, drawing attention to distinctive patterns across city size categories and testing hypotheses which may explain the diversity of observed patterns of food policy engagement. Particular attention is given to demographic, institutional, and geographical factors which have likely influenced either the motivation or the capacities of cities to act on food matters. We find that most Asian cities are at an early stage in efforts to apply coherent and coordinated approaches to address food-related challenges and opportunities. The opportunities for future economic gain and avoidance of social costs may be greatest among the region’s fast-growing small- and medium-sized cities, yet many such cities lack the requisite capacities to influence complex food system matters and will require assistance from national agencies and others. The research community also has an important role to play, addressing knowledge gaps and emerging trends related to the structure and performance of urban food systems, patterns of consumer behaviour, and the incidence of food-related risks, further assessing the drivers influencing urban food policy interventions, evaluating the effectiveness and impacts of urban food policies and programs, and drawing attention to emerging good practices which other cities might adopt or adapt to their circumstances. Both case studies and multi-city surveys will be valuable in such endeavours.

Keywords: Asia, benchmarking, cities, food smart, food systems, urban food policy

Contact Address: Miriam E. Romero Antonio, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF), Dept. of Economic and Technological Change, Genscherallee 3, D-53113 Bonn, Germany, e-mail: mromeroa@uni-bonn.de

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