Food Governance

Responsibility for decision-making about the food system is shared between many different public, private and civil society organisations. The result is that governance structures for food lag behind what we know about contemporary food-related challenges: that they are multiple and can impact on one another.


The way decision-making is currently organised tends to treat individual problems and parts of the system in isolation. This creates challenges for a more integrated and coherent approach to food policy. The challenges are similar whether talking about global, national or local level policy. 

The below brief uses a case study of global-level public sector decision-makers on food to illustrate these challenges.

The governance challenge  »

The case study details the different - primarily United Nations - bodies that are involved in global level food governance (it was written before the proposal for a UN Food Systems Summit, which will happen this year, aiming to 'awaken the world to the fact that we all must work together to transform the way the world produces, consumes and thinks about food'). 


Source: Parsons and Hawkes 2019

Governance arrangements at national policy level are the focus of my Who Makes Food Policy? mapping research. I also co-authored a paper on the impact of national 'policy styles' on food policy:

Candel, J., Parsons, K., Barling, D. and Loudiyi, S., 2020. The relationship between Europeanisation and policy styles: a study of agricultural and public health policymaking in three EU Member States. Journal of European Public Policy, pp.1-22.

(Let me know if you have problems accessing). 


I have also looked at governance arrangements at the local/city level; for example, the influence of wider governance structures - or 'institutions' - on London’s food policy. The paper below looks at how food policy in the UK capital is organised, what actions have been taken to try to improve the city's food system, and what it tells us about the way governance structures enable and constrain policy opportunities. 

London's Food Policy: Leveraging the policy sub-system, programme and plan  »