One of the enduring foundations of the Ostrom Workshop has been the Monday Colloquium Series, promoted by the Indiana University Bloomington. The series has provided a forum for a breadth of presenters and topics over the years that have echoed the themes of the Ostrom Workshop’s research program.
On October 5th from 6pm to 7pm (Rome time zone) Sheila Foster, professor of Urban Law and Policy at Georgetown University, will participate to the Colloquim series organized by Indiana University Bloomington. Professor Foster, co-director of LabGov.City, will present the forthcomming book written with professor Christian Iaione: “Co-Cities: Empowering Equitable and Self-Sustaining Communities through Land and Resource Stewardship”. In particular she will focus on the principles elaborated by Elinor Ostrom adapted to the Urban contexts.
policy has not usually represented a mainstream domain for urban planning.
However, as Professor Kevin Morgan argued now ten years ago, this “puzzling
omission” is not justifiable anymore given the multifunctional character of the
food system with his effects on different policy sectors and the now recognized
belief that it cannot be automatically relegated to the rural policy domain
(2010: 341). Accordingly, Thomas Forster et Al. collected best practices from
cities around the world to demonstrate the breadth of food policy and programmatic
work that is occurring in urban areas, proposing a wide range of solutions for
Mayors (2015). Their collection of policy solutions showed how “cities are
moving towards an integrated approach to food systems and there are wide
interest and experimentation in inter-departmental institutional mechanisms”
(Forster et Al. 2015:17)
this context, the city of London shows a complex governance system (Travers
2002: 787) which at a first sight does not seem to leave much space to food
policy. Thus, London has a two-tier structure with 32 boroughs plus the City of
London representing local interests and the Greater London Authority (GLA),
consisting of the Mayor and the Assembly, in charge of the London region
(Travers 2018: 340). The London boroughs are responsible for local services
delivery. In terms of policy competences, they run social care, environmental
policies, road management, public health, social housing, waste management and
they can supervise local schools (Travers 2018: 348). Whilst the Mayor
establishes the strategic framework for the boroughs and the London plan, he
also holds executive powers over transport – chairing the executive board of
Transport for London – policing, fire, emergency services, London’s growth and
economy. He even has a shared competence in housing and regeneration policy
(Burdett and Rode 2015). By contrast, food policy in the UK appears fragmented
amongst different policy sectors and layers. In particular, the multilevel
nature of the food sector led food to be considered a “wicked issue” for
policymaking and apparently unable to fit the policy system (Parsons, Barling
and Lang 2018: 212). Consequently, an evident policy opportunity emerged for
urban food policy, with the city of London experimenting new policy structures
and promoting policy change.
the last years, the city of London has strengthened its commitment to food
policy. The increased powers of the Mayor and the GLA enabled them to find new
policy opportunities and address relevant issues for the capital, even in
absence of strategic responsibilities. And food is one of these cases. Indeed,
the Mayor and the GLA “consult widely and work closely with London
organizations – boroughs, the private sector and voluntary bodies, in a new
inclusive style of politics” (Pilgrim 2006: 226). Moreover, the Mayor has to
enhance residents’ health and wellbeing, by also promoting social and economic
development (Halliday and Barling 2018: 186). Hence, food policymaking can be
enlisted within this duty. However, the creativity of Mayors in using their
powers (Blick and Dunleavy 2017: 4) explicitly manifested concerning food. In
fact, the current Mayor Sadiq Khan promoted a very interventionist policy
campaign banning junk food advertisements from Transport for London, relying on
its strategic direction over transport policy (Hawkes and Parsons 2019: 5).
This policy action was firstly developed on-the-ground knowledge released by
London boroughs (Hawkes and Parsons 2019: 5) and it showed how the complexity
of London governance provides several policy opportunities encouraging the
emergence of a complex urban food governance system. Additionally, the current
London Plan provides support for food growing, local food production,
encourages food waste management, aims to improve Londoners’ access to quality
and healthy food (GLA 2016). Moreover, the plan intends to tackle food poverty
by increasing the provision of land for food growing in London (GLA 2016: 323).
Finally, it calls for the implementation of a new London Food Strategy (GLA
2016: 323). This strategy exemplifies the pan London commitment to food
policymaking. The most recent – promoted by Mayor Sadiq Khan – was finally
approved in 2018 (Hawkes and Parsons 2019: 4). It openly aims to guarantee that
“all Londoners have access to healthy and sustainable food” (GLA 2018: 9) and
“highlights how food is connected to everything we do as a society: it affects
the environment, it drives our economy, affects our health and it is a central
part of our cultural life” (GLA 2018: 7). Among its policy objectives, it
differs from past food strategies in its promises to “tackle food poverty,
child obesity and unhealthy food environments” (Hawkes and Parsons 2019: 4).
implementation of the London Food Strategy has been supported by the London
Food Programme, which is part of the GLA Regeneration and Economic Development
Policy Unit. The Food Programme team also cooperates with food partners in the
private, public and third sectors to deliver and monitor a wide range of
projects which may concern public health, social welfare and environmental
policy issues. It also works closely with the London Food Board. The board
counsels the Mayor on food priorities for London and it is composed of experts
from academia, the third and the private sector. Finally, London boroughs’
voice is heard through the Borough Food Sub-Group of the London Food Board
(BFSG), which is primarily composed of officials from London boroughs’ public
health teams (Hawkes and Parsons 2019: 5). It aims to strengthen the
relationship between the GLA and London boroughs as regards food policymaking
and reduce policy fragmentation. Since the Mayor has limited powers on
food-related issues and boroughs have no obligation to follow his
recommendations, the subgroup offers a more democratic arena for discussion
(Halliday and Barling 2018). Moreover, the London Food Programme works in
partnership with Sustain, an alliance of food and farming organizations, which
supports London boroughs developing Food Poverty Action Plans (GLA n.d.). Sustain
also releases every year the report “Beyond the Food Bank” to assess boroughs’
signs of progress in meeting food objectives over the year. The report shares
every year what each London borough is doing on food to generate positive competition
among each other.
this context, London Boroughs – like other local authorities in the UK – have a
wide range of policy levers to produce long-term food policy change, and
address social, economic and environmental issues as well (Marceau 2018: 3). Food
Poverty Action Plans represent one of these levers through which local
authorities can work with local partners to tackle food poverty at the local
level (Marceau 2018: 3). Here, the limited Mayoral powers and resources as
regards food policymaking explain how several food policy networks and
partnerships emerged, especially in London, to fill the gaps that neither city
nor local politics managed to compensate. Thus, a food partnership represents a
consortium of organizations, ideally from the public, voluntary, faith and
community sectors, who locally commit to working together and tackling food
poverty (Sustain 2020). In 2017 around 50 cross-sector food partnerships have
been set up in the UK as part of the Sustainable Food Cities movement (Davies
2017: 3). Once established, they are generally constituted by cross-sector
bodies. Davies reports that food partnerships may take different shapes,
relying on a more formalized or more informal structure. Some are directly
housed by public sector organizations and are generally staffed by government’s
employees. Others may be staffed and funded by third sector organizations or
even fully independent, with minimal available resources and mostly composed by
volunteers (Davies 2017: 3).
the complexity of London’s urban governance represented a fertile environment
for food policymaking, especially considering the policy vacuum left by the UK
central Government as regards food. Thus, food policies have been recently
added to London’s local and city-region agendas. Firstly, the Mayor made food a
relevant component of its London Plan and launched the third London Food
Strategy. Then, London boroughs started implementing local food policies as
food poverty action plans and cooperating with local food partnerships.
Evidently, if urban planning neglected food policy for a long time, the case of
London shows how an increasing number of local actors from the public, private
and third sector have finally recognized the strategic significance of the food
system for urban areas and, more in general, of food for communities’ health
A. and Dunleavy, P. (2017), Audit 2017: How democratic is the devolved
government of London? London: Democratic Audit UK.
K. (2010), Feeding the City: The Challenges of Urban Food Planning,
International Planning Studies, 14: 4, pp. 341-348.
K. and Hawkes, C. (2019), Brief 4: Embedding Food in All Policies, In
Rethinking Food Policy: A Fresh Approach to Policy and Practice, London: Centre
for Food Policy, pp: 1-8.
K., Barling, D. and Lang, T. (2018), UK Policymaking Institutions and their
implications for integrated Food Policy (Chapter 7), Advances in Food Security
and Sustainability, Volume 3, pp. 211-251.
M. (2006), London Regional Governance and the London Boroughs, Local Government
Studies, 32:3, pp.223-238.
Join the Roundtable Discussion on October 6th at 2:30pm!
The panel will discuss the connection between urban law issues and the most recents developments in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The roundtable will forsee the participation of Christian Iaione, professor of urban law and policy, land use, smart cities, law & policy of innovation & sustainability at Luiss University and Elena de Nictolis, co-teacher of urban law and policy and law and governance of innovation and sustainability at Luiss University and a research fellow with LabGov.City.
Both contributed as co-author of chapter 4 of the book Law and the New Urban Agenda, where they provided insights about urban co-governance and the right to the City gained from the work on international committees for innovation, urban policy and economics.
The event is free, registration is required and may be completed by the following link: bit.ly/ULDReg. Participants will receive Zoom details once registration is completed.