The capacity of single initiatives to contribute to the transformation of sustainable food systems is weak if they are not likely to be replicated, imitated, networked, amplified, supported and disseminated at multiple scales (scaling capacity).
It is useful to consider different ways of scale for an innovation (Riddell and Moore, 2015):
Urbal can, through the participatory method and result sharing, accompany changes of scale by strengthening the capacity of practitioners to disseminate their innovations and contribute to the transition towards more sustainable food systems.
How? It helps stakeholders to reflect on the conditions, barriers and levers to spread their innovations to other scales.
According to Bouchard, Evers & Fraisse (2015), social innovation is an “intervention initiated by social actors to respond to an aspiration, meet a need, provide a solution or take advantage of an opportunity for cultural action in order to modify social relations, transform a framework of action or propose new orientations. From this point of view […] social innovation aims to modify the institutional frameworks that shape relationships in society”.
In URBAL, we consider social innovations when found the following characteristics:
Participatory engagement is at the heart of the Urbal methodology.
Shared experiences and feedbacks from other users:
To enter the logic of the URBAL method at this point you can ask what has changed since the implementation of the innovative activity, namely the path of change that was triggered by the activity.
In order to answer this question, you use an Urbal’s representation of an impact pathway.
Impact pathway: a graphical chart that maps how an activity can generate short-term and medium-term changes to achieve long-term changes also called impacts.
Changes : transformations/consequences induced by an innovative activity
Impact: long-term changes linked to sustainability, caused by short and medium changes.
Video/pictures: Pictures of the explanation of what an impact pathway is (see above) Ask Està to make it clean → Visual
Shared experiences and feedback from other users: example of an impact pathway completed by the participants (MIRI) – PDF files :
Urbal tools to help users : example of impact pathway map to be completed (Example of Milano Ristorazione → tool to ask Està to do in English . The columns include: innovative practice, activities, short-term changes, medium term and long term changes/impacts, sustainable dimension, factors (with drivers and barriers).
In-depth insights to download:
Master Thesis – Impact pathway methodology literature review
A sustainable food system “provides healthy food to meet current food needs while maintaining healthy ecosystems that can also provide food for generations to come, with minimal negative impact to the environment; encourages local production and distribution infrastructures; makes nutritious food available, accessible, and affordable to all; is humane and just, protecting farmers and other workers, consumers, and communities.”
(Story et al. 2009).
(Ref: Story M, Hamm MW, Wallinga D (2009) Food systems and public health: linkages to achieve healthier diets and healthier communities. J Hunger Environ Nutr 4:219–224).
There are many different opportunities to make the world we live in more sustainable through food systems. The key Urbal dimensions of sustainability are: