Exploring agriculture, climate change, and food planning nexus

Where does territorial planning stands?





Climate change, climate plans, foods, agriculture, food planning


 In Portugal, local answers to climate change and food are basically twofold: the approval of a Climate Adaptive Strategy or Plan, which are largely being formulated by Portuguese municipalities and the voluntary signature of the Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration. As both folds are not binding their impact is limited. However, a recent Portuguese framework Law on Climate [2021], aligned with the European Green Deal, imposes that all municipalities must approve a municipal climate action plan before summer 2024. Such a context opens up a window of opportunity to reflect on the lessons learned from the already approved Climate Adaptive Plans and Strategies.

Therefore, we explore in this paper the following inter - connected questions: (1) to what extent Climate Adaptive Plans and Strategies include the increase of local food production; (2) Do they consider each step of the food chain or solely food production? (3) To what extent are those measures transcribed into the planning rules and regulations.

In order to do so, we analysed 14 Climate Adaptive Strategies or Plans of a selected group of cities that entered the national competition ECO XXI, based on a sustainable framework of multiple dimensions. In 2021, as much as 57 out of the 308 Portuguese municipalities entered the competition.

Results suggest that adaptive measures relate to increasing local agriculture, mapping out land availability or highlighting the need for local agroecological practices. Moreover, Climate Adaptive Strategies or Plans, measures and actions are predominantly related to agriculture production, leaving behind subsequent food chain activities. This is probably happening due to a narrow and sectorial vision of agriculture that do not consider each one of the stages of the food chain. Lastly, the inclusion of several measures and actions into planning instruments is quite promising, even if still fragile to transform existing reality.

In conclusion, there is an urgent need to expand among food stakeholders the understanding of food and agriculture as part of the food system. In addition, there is a need to increase planner’s awareness to these topics as in practice the link between food, climate and planning is still missing. Findings highlight that the potential role of planning is not being fully unleashed. Such a consideration is in line with other international studies confirming that Portugal is not an exception. Therefore, lessons we learned might turn useful for other countries.


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Author Biography

Cecília Delgado, NOVA.FCSH I CICS.NOVA I Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Cecília Delgado is a researcher at the Interdisciplinary Centre of Social Sciences of NOVA FCSH. Currently, her research is focused on the articulation within urban and peri-urban agriculture, urban food systems, urban planning, and food governance.

Since 2014 she has focused on the project - Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture for sustainable local development: The Multi-stakeholder Policy Action Planning as a tool for reconciling sectorial policies. Under the mentioned project she has visited and collected primary data on relevant Urban Agriculture and Urban Food Systems initiatives worldwide. At national level, Cecilia Delgado has been working with local governments and non-profit organizations, on Food Systems processes. In 2019/2020 she won a grant for a training programme on public policies for sustainable production and consumption at Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. From 2018-2022 she joined the EU Cost Action - Implementing nature-based solutions for creating a resourceful circular city. In addition, she has been deeply involved in outreach activities as the national platform “Feeding Sustainable Cities” which she cofounded in 2018. Today the networks join 500 members of the Portuguese food systems.

Her scientific work has resulted in 21 scientific papers, 3 books, 4 book chapters (one of them in a FAO/UCL publication). She is a reviewer of scientific papers for indexed journals and is member of the board of the Public Portuguese Policy Journal, having in 2021 edited the special issue on the Multiple policy entries for a sustainable food system in Portugal: overview, challenges, and solutions.

Before her research position at CICS.NOVA she was a university lecturer and researcher at Lusíada Porto University (1999-2013); From 2000-2007 she was the urban planner coordinator of the Polis Program in Vila Nova de Gaia, a national environmental and rehabilitation project led by Parque Expo 98 (2000-2007).  She concluded her PhD in 2011 on public participation. From 2014 to 2017 she collaborated with the National Laboratory of Civil Engineering.


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How to Cite

Delgado C. Exploring agriculture, climate change, and food planning nexus: Where does territorial planning stands?. CIG [Internet]. 2023 Oct. 25 [cited 2024 May 22];. Available from: https://publicaciones.unirioja.es/ojs/index.php/cig/article/view/5679