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Grassroots Initiatives as Sustainability Transition Pioneers: Implications and Lessons for Urban Food Systems

1
Department of Food Nutrition Facilities, FH Münster—University of Applied Sciences, Corrensstraße 25, 48149 Münster, Germany
2
Centre for Development Research, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Borkowskigasse 4, 1190 Vienna, Austria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Urban Sci. 2018, 2(1), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/urbansci2010023
Received: 19 February 2018 / Revised: 1 March 2018 / Accepted: 3 March 2018 / Published: 8 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Food Security)
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Abstract

This review explores the current evidence on the role and success factors of grassroots initiatives in sustainability transitions, with special attention given to social innovations and the transformation of urban food systems, a field that is still rather scantly dealt with in literature compared to technological innovations in other sectors such as energy. In addition to their contributions to get the necessary transformation towards sustainable futures off the ground, the preconditions for grassroots initiatives to thrive are presented—as well as limitations regarding their possibilities and the challenges they face. Increasingly, the importance of civil society and social movements in facilitating societal transformation is recognized by both researchers and policy makers. Within their radical niches, grassroots initiatives do not have to adhere to the logics of the wider systems in which they are embedded. This allows them to experiment with diverse solutions to sustainability challenges such as local food security and sovereignty. By means of democratic, inclusive and participatory processes, they create new pathways and pilot a change of course. Nevertheless, upscaling often comes at the loss of the transformative potential of grassroots initiatives. View Full-Text
Keywords: grassroots initiatives; local food security; radical niches; sustainability transitions; transformative social innovations; urban food systems grassroots initiatives; local food security; radical niches; sustainability transitions; transformative social innovations; urban food systems
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Gernert, M.; El Bilali, H.; Strassner, C. Grassroots Initiatives as Sustainability Transition Pioneers: Implications and Lessons for Urban Food Systems. Urban Sci. 2018, 2, 23.

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