Enhancing multi-level collaborations to upscale short food supply chains in Utrecht
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The global food system is in dire need of reform. How we produce and consume food contributes to some of society's most pressing challenges. As a reaction, short food supply chains (SFSCs) have developed in Europe, supported by the idea of producing and consuming food in a way that respects both the environment and the different actors in the food chain. Utrecht, the fourth biggest city in the Netherlands, is also following that trend, and many initiatives that seek to offer fresh and local food to citizens have arisen. Nevertheless, this alternative system remains relatively small compared to the conventional value chains. This thesis examines how SFSCs of Utrecht can be upscaled through the creation of meaningful collaborations while still respecting the primary identity of SFSCs i.e., small and local. The acceleration mechanisms of Gorissen, Spira, Meynaerts, Valkeringa, & Frantzeskaki (2018) are adapted and then combined in a novel conceptual framework with the concepts of transformative alliances and actors of Haan & Rotmans (2018) and the different collaboration levels offered by Mittal, White, & Krejci (2017). This framework highlights the way different types of actors are creating transformative alliances to foster system change. These theories are then visualised using social network concepts which allowed for a thorough overview of the different actors collaborating to strengthen SFSCs in Utrecht. Based on these observations, recommendations on how to strengthen SFSCs are formulated. These are mainly focused on connectors and topplers who appeared to be critical actors in unifying, assembling, and giving relevance to SFSCs and later upscale SFSCs. The results help to further define how upscaling processes occur within a local context. The research offers a new narrative on how alternative markets such as SFSCs are being developed by creating meaningful collaborations between diverse actors. Moreover, the methodology suggests a novel and concrete way to visualise how actors are coming together to challenge and modify the conventional systems. It is believed that these findings could be applied in similar regions where SFSCs evolve to then further develop the conceptual framework created.