BORIS Theses

BORIS Theses
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Between Global Committees, National Policymaking and a Single Kitchen: Governing Food Systems Towards Sustainability in an Era of Multi-Stakeholderism

Zanella, Matheus Alves (2022). Between Global Committees, National Policymaking and a Single Kitchen: Governing Food Systems Towards Sustainability in an Era of Multi-Stakeholderism. (Thesis). Universität Bern, Bern

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This thesis deals with the expanding presence of non-traditional actors in food system governance, and it investigates how the engagement of these actors can improve democratic governance by decentralising decision-making, promoting sustainability, and increasing deliberation. The first research output (Rosendahl, et al., 2015) brings a reflection on the positionality of researchers in transdisciplinary projects. The second (Zanella & Milhorance, 2015) addresses decentralisation in development cooperation policies from government-centred programmes to stronger involvement of private sector and civil society. Using the case of the Committee on World Food Security, the third research output (Zanella, et al., 2018) questions to what extent and ways multi-stakeholder participation is improving the deliberative quality of processes and institutions of global governance. The fourth output (Zanella, 2020) aims at developing an empirical method that restaurants can use to assess their practices for achieving sustainability, highlighting the role of this actor in influencing local food governance. At the global level, we found that the Committee on World Food Security improved the deliberative quality of global food governance by including and facilitating transmission of discourses. This was achieved by the Committee’s high diversity of actor-representation, a regular mode of communication, and the capacity of participants to influence debates and decisiveness. Stronger focus on accountability and better understanding of how instrumental, structural, and discursive power would make deliberative analysis even more useful for further research. At national levels, we found growing conflicts due to the larger involvement of non-traditional actors, particularly civil society actors and large farm associations and agribusiness corporations, with vested interests, conflictive worldviews, disparate political influence, power, and resources. In the case of this thesis – Brazil-Mozambique cooperation in agriculture – we found profound asymmetric distribution of resources among family and commercial farms, with the later clearly dominating the allocation of resources (e.g., public funding, preferential credit, political access). At the local level looking specifically at the engagement of restaurants in local food governance, we found that sources of information on food sustainability used by restaurant managers, chefs, and owners, are quite apart from those found in the scientific literature on food sustainability. This suggests that strengthening the analytical links between the macro-level of food system literature and micro-level of restaurant operations would be a valuable reference for emerging local food governance institutions driving change towards sustainability. Unified principles-based methods of sustainable performance might address the complexity of food system sustainability, drawing from my own experience in heading restaurants in Berlin, Germany, and in Brasília, Brazil. Sustainable food principles – applicable for all levels, from global to local – are strongly linked with larger citizen participation in food governance: what has been increasingly labelled as democratic food governance. I conclude that this emerging concept of food democracy is in line with the theoretical foundations of eliberation, which see democracy less as voting mechanisms, and more focussed in exchanging opinions, judgements, values, discussions, argumentation, of being free to agree and disagree, and to change our own perceptions.

Item Type: Thesis
Dissertation Type: Cumulative
Date of Defense: 17 October 2022
Subjects: 500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology
900 History > 910 Geography & travel
Institute / Center: 08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)
Depositing User: Sarah Stalder
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2022 10:31
Last Modified: 24 Nov 2022 10:31

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