The agro-food system in the city of Valencia, Spain. Assessment of the transformative capacity towards sustainability.

15/10/2019 to 18/10/2019
19th European Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and Production - ERSCP 2019 – Circular Europe for Sustainability: Design, Production and Consumption
The urban unsustainability problems are complex and persistent, generating new areas of research, such as studies on transition, that aim at influencing and accelerating the processes of change towards sustainability. In the agro-food system of Valencia, citizens have also reacted to the failure of current system by challenging it with creative initiatives, self-organization, resistance and a growing demands for changes that is having a strong influence on food policies in the last years. As of 2015, Valencia has developed a transformation process in food policies through a transdisciplinary effort which has resulted in producing the Valencia 2025 Agro-food Policy Strategy, which includes strategic lines such as the agro-ecological transition and local food governance. The purpose of this paper is to inquire into the potentialities of the urban transformative capacity framework, based on the work Wolfram (2016) and develops from it, an exploratory analysis in the agro-food system of the city of Valencia in Spain with the ultimate goal of supporting their transition process. The study is based on an interpretative research paradigm in which qualitative methods are combined, that include semi-structured interviews and analysis of secondary data. The results show as assets that bring the Valencia territory, a balanced leadership amongst public institutions, civil society/social activism and private sector (transformative leadership), along with increasing disruptive initiatives, within which there are various governance spaces and a balanced human agency work at different levels. The main weaknesses identified are the integration and coupling of innovation with policies, the coordination of a vision of sustainability in the elaboration of local policies as well as spatial level planning and the learning and social reflection in governance spaces, as factors to be strengthened to allow the advance of transformation processes in the specific context of Valencia. In applying the framework of urban transformative capacity to the socio-technical agri-food system, it is essential to recognize the interdependence with the rural world and its key role in sustainability, which implies to broaden the horizon beyond the agency of urban actors and position ourselves from a territorial perspective. From our perspective, this transformative capacity framework has an important potential in terms of enabling social learning and reflexivity amongst key system actors; and academia has the responsibility and the challenge of contributing to these processes.
Nancy Sarabia, Jordi Peris, Sergio Segura-Calero