Identifying participants

Once the relevant innovation activities have been identified, you will need to select and invite workshop participants. You may invite people who were interviewed in Step 1 and/or people who were not interviewed. Power dynamics, availability, and practicality all play a role in these decisions. Bear in mind that not all guests will be able to participate.

The table below provides a checklist to help guide your selection of workshop participants.

We suggest a minimum of 6 and up to 20 participants for the workshop. Beyond 20 people it may be difficult to manage the workshop, guarantee speaking time for everyone, and ensure good quality knowledge exchange. 

To ensure that all actors involved can contribute, additional arrangements can be made to accommodate folks based on their circumstances, including age, language, literacy, geographical distance, diverse accessibility needs, etc. For example, statements can be collected using focus groups addressing selected subjects, held separately, before or after the workshop, to  allow actors more opportunities to interact and discuss with one another.

Two columns of green boxes, three on the left and two on the right, list workshop participants and their roles and considerations.

Some people will want to take part in the workshop out of interest and a sense of civic duty.

In other cases, engaging with various stakeholders requires understanding their needs and letting them know how the Urbal workshop and results will help them. For example:

  • Public authorities will have more information about how to develop relevant policies and programmes.
  • Innovators will understand more about how to improve their innovation process and build in more sustainable directions.
  • Producers could be interested as it gives them a chance to connect into new networks and make connections to community members .
  • Consumers, beneficiaries, and users of innovations may be interested in serving public interests, sharing their viewpoint, or improving the innovation.

To overcome time, access, or money constraints for participants, you can offer, for example,   thank you gifts , honoraria or, childcare.


Role and things to consider:
  • People who developed the initial innovation concept.


Policy-makers - as appropriate, this may not make sense for all innovation
Role and things to consider:
  • Interest in enabling (or not) the innovation through policy and program tools. Policy and programs at multiple scales that interact in good and bad ways.


Role and things to consider:
  • Sustainability experts provide context for the innovation, insights on the sustainability dimensions and from other research, raise gaps or missing questions and provide support in the dialogues.
  • Ideally at least one urban food system sustainability expert would participate as well as specific sustainability experts as appropriate to the innovation. For example, economic, social, cultural, environmental, health or governance experts. They don’t need to be academic experts.
  • Experts should be informed of their role before the workshop so that they know what you expect of them. It is therefore a good idea to explain their expected role precisely when you invite them.


People affected and affecting the innovation
Role and things to consider:
  • People directly or indirectly involved in enabling (or not) innovation. This will depend on the innovation and on whom and with whom it acts.
  • It can be: consumers, beneficiaries or users (retail, restaurant, canteen), managers, suppliers (food distributors, farmers, processors), competitors, other similar or related innovators, etc.
  • The more diverse the profiles of the people you involve, the more the dialogues will be enriched with different perspectives.


Workshop and working groups facilitators
Role and things to consider:
  • It can be the person applying the method, a member of URBAL or someone else appropriate to this role. It also may make sense to hire a facilitator depending on your context.
  • The facilitators need to be distant enough from the workshop participants that people will feel comfortable speaking openly, they also need skills in facilitation and knowledge about how to use the goals of the Urbal methodology project.
  • Also keep in mind that during the workshop each working group needs a facilitator.


Urbal has tools to help you:

  • Understand the changes and impacts connected to an innovation.

  • Better understand the challenges and enablers of an innovation.

  • Potentially track and evaluate the impact of funded innovations.

  • Assess the potential for longer term sustainability impacts of an innovation.


Urbal has tools to help you:

  • Conduct an overview of a food system innovation and better understand how it supports community empowerment and sustainability.

  • Bring together community knowledge holders to create an inclusive and reflective evaluation.

  • Identify innovation barriers and enablers.

  • Clearly communicate the value of  your innovation to relevant audiences.

  • Develop indicators to track and evaluate your progress towards sustainability, if you choose.

Policy and decision makers,

Urbal has tools to help you:

  • Conduct structured overviews of food system innovations.

  • Understand, integrate, and promote food system innovations.
  • Gain the insights you need to strengthen sustainable food policies and overcome barriers to food system sustainability.

  • Develop and improve sustainable food system evaluations.

  • Use evidence from Urbal to develop more suitable policies and programmes.

Sustainable Food Systems actors,

Urbal has tools to help you:

  • Understand and guide your actions to meet sustainability objectives.

  • Collect the information you need to make better decisions.

  • Clearly communicate the value of  your innovation to relevant audiences and attract more funding.

  • Network with your food region.

  • Develop indicators to track and evaluate your progress towards sustainability, if you choose.


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):

  • “Scaling out” is impacting greater numbers. Strategies may include the replication or the spreading of projects and programs geographically and/or to greater numbers, or the dissemination of principles, knowledge, experiences, with the adaptation to new territorial contexts.
  • “Scaling up” is about impacting laws and policy (in legal terms, policy governance, commodity chain structuring, etc.),
  • “Scaling deep” is impacting cultural roots. That means spreading big cultural ideas and using stories to shift norms and beliefs, or investing in transformative learning and communities of practice.
  • “Scaling here” ? 


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.


  1. Video/pictures: scale picture (Source: Riddell and Moore, 2015, p.3) → visual
  2. Shared experiences and feedbacks from other users: n/a
  3. Urbal tools to help users : n/a
  4. In-depth insights to download: So What 14.

Social innovation

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:

  • They want change, responding to a social or societal need or seizing an opportunity for activating minor or major changes in society (Chiffoleau 2016).

  • They Are inclusive, seeking to benefit the whole society by the sharing of the value produced (economic, social, environmental,…)

  • They include collaborative or participatory activities.

    • There is therefore an intentionality to change the situation in relation to the previous situation, to improve one or more aspects of the life of individuals.

    • Social innovations are embedded in a value system, they are not intrinsically good and what is undesirable (problems) and desirable (solutions) can change over time.


  1. Video/pictures: rechercher l’interview de Veronica sur la définition d’innovation sociale (?) (Elodie ?)
  2. Shared experiences and feedbacks from other users:
  3. Urbal tools to help users :
  4. In-depth insights to download: Master thesis Veronica : BONOMELLI V. Building a participative tool to map the impact pathway of urban driven innovations on food systems sustainability: how to consider specific features of social innovation? : Master thesis. Montpellier Supagro, 2018, 50p, So What 14.

Urbal participatory tools

Participatory engagement is at the heart of the Urbal methodology.

  • This approach relies on experts (not necessarily scientists but people with long experience and/or professional knowledge) and practitioners to be successful and provide useful insights. This means that all knowledge and experiences are equally valuable and valid.

  • A participatory process helps people to engage with others and reinforces stakeholders’ understandings and relationships.
  • A participatory process requires skills and tools supported by Urbal.


Shared experiences and feedbacks from other users:

How to map change?

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.



  1. Video/pictures: Pictures of the explanation of what an impact pathway is (see above) Ask Està to make it clean → Visual

  2. Shared experiences and feedback from other users: example of an impact pathway completed by the participants (MIRI) – PDF files :

  3. 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).

    → Miniature

  4. In-depth insights to download:

    Master Thesis – Impact pathway methodology literature review

What are sustainable food systems?

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:

  • Health : food security (access, quality, regularity…), nutrition, well-being, physical activity…
  • Governance : transparency, power dynamics, people’s participation, accountability…
  • Environment : protection of biodiversity, renewable resources, energy efficiency, climate resilience…
  • Social-cultural : equity, community building, confidence in the system, positive expression of social and cultural identity and culture…
  • Economic : equity, resilience, fair work and remuneration, local economies…
5 green circles form a pentagon to illustrate the 5 dimensions of sustainability. The Economic symbol is a shopping cart and a euro, the symbol for Health is a bowl with vegetables, the symbol for Governance is a government building, the symbol for Social-Cultural is traditional Japanese architecture, and the symbol for Environment is a hand holding a seedling.


  1. Video/pictures: diagram of the dimensions of sustainability à voir avec Està → visual
    to research external brief explanatory pedagogical videos (Ophelie looks in the resources of the Unesco Chair and in the URBAL video) → visual
  2. Shared experiences and feedbacks from other users: n/a
  3. Urbal tools to help users : In-depth insights to download: IPES FOOD : FROM UNIFORMITY TO DIVERSITY – PDF file – A paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversifed agroecological systems