A growing number of people live in cities. Urban food systems and their impacts on ecosystems and socio-economic conditions are becoming increasingly important. To address the challenge of making urban food systems more sustainable, a rising number of assessments of urban food systems have been published. Some used large quantitative datasets while others were descriptive in nature and/or do not address the whole thematic spectrum of sustainability. In this study, an indicator set was developed, which uses widely available data to address all dimensions of sustainability. The indicators focus on policies and measures of public administration and local politics and are based on the guidelines for Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture Systems (SAFA) by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). To operationalize the SAFA-Guidelines, we developed, in a participatory process, a multi-criteria assessment method with 97 indicators for evaluating 51 of the 58 SAFA subthemes, which were deemed relevant for the context of an urban food system. The first application of this method in the city of Basel, Switzerland, revealed concrete areas of improvement relating to the sustainability of the food system. In combination with cost-effectives analysis, stakeholder consultation, and monitoring measures, the results of the assessment method can be used to initiate the process of moving towards more sustainable urban food systems.
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