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Local action with a global vision: The transformative potential of food social enterprises in Australia

There is an urgent need to make food systems more sustainable and resilient. Such a transformation goes beyond technological innovation and requires economic and social change. Research interest in the transformative potential of community level action has increased. Food social enterprises often operate at the community level and consist of not-for-profit organisations that aim to make a positive contribution to social justice and environmental sustainability. The question addressed in this paper is whether these social enterprises are limited to isolated improvements or have the capacity to transform food systems more widely. This paper uses a multi-dimensional framework (involving the social setting, operational models, governance, and institutional context) to analyse the transformative potential of eight food social enterprises in the Australian cities of Brisbane and Melbourne. The analysis indicates that these enterprises create social networks, pursue agendas aligned with a global vision of transformation, and include a diversity of stakeholders. Their operational models are consistent with the goals of environmental sustainability and social justice. Their governance involves equality, transparency, and flexibility. In the institutional context, support from public policy is limited and there is a need to improve their engagement with governmental actors. While food social enterprises are well placed in the quest to make food systems more consistent with ecological dynamics and social justice, they need to engage in greater advocacy for institutional change in order to maximise their transformative potential.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Vieira, L. C., Serrao-Neumann, S., & Howes, M. (2019). Local action with a global vision: The transformative potential of food social enterprises in Australia. Sustainability, 11(23). https://doi.org/10.3390/su11236756
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).