Playing with food: exploring innovative urban food security practices through visioning, back-casting and serious gaming
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Urban food systems are under pressure due to a worldwide urbanization trend. By 2050, three-quarters of the world's population is expected to live in urban areas. As it is highly likely that in the near future the majority of food will be consumed in cities, there is an urgent need to make the urban food systems of the future more sustainable. One way to articulate and explore more prosperous, just and environmentally sustainable food futures that go beyond overly simplistic utopias or dystopias is by using existing innovative urban food practices or "Seeds of Good Anthropocenes". This thesis aims to test how such innovative urban food practices can benefit from collecting, exploring and combining such practices through the use of complementary methods for normative foresight with relevant actors from the field. The three foresight methods used in this thesis are visioning, back-casting and serious gaming. The methods were selected based on their shared characteristics of vision-driven planning, experientiality, non-consequentiality and the possibility of interaction between participants, all to varying degrees. The methods were tested in Japan in a case study of Kyoto city and the surrounding prefecture. A heterogeneous group of innovative food practitioners participated in a mixed-methods research design of semi-structured visioning interviews, back-casting focus groups and workshops consisting of a digital game and a card-based live role-playing game. The results were assessed with regard to foresight output on the one hand and the process effects of motivation to act, network size, understanding of the topic and empathy for other perspectives on the other. The outcomes were mostly positive, although somewhat ambiguous for empathy. Together, the outcomes were expected to lead to new or extended imaginaries, which are the deep-seated modes of understanding that constitute the social and political space through which people perceive, judge and act towards the future. The multi-method approach combined different aspects of engagement with imaginaries: vivid visions were generated in the visioning interviews, that were made concrete in the back-casting focus groups and to which an extra layer of new governance forms was added in the gaming workshops. These outcomes suggests that complementary foresight methods are able to impact a deeper layer of drivers for change, towards a good Anthropocene for urban food systems and the actors involved in them.