Event paper Deposited for Communication & Planning, in Abstract submission

(February 2012) The Journey to a Sustainable Olympics

The Journey to a Sustainable Olympics image

Urban Food Strategies

Even though urban areas around the world are creating city-level strategies for sustainable food systems, the academic literature has not adequately researched and understood the motivating factors and the implementation practices that lead to these strategies.  Sustainability theorists argue for urban areas to lead the way in sustainable development, but there has not been a long tradition of food systems theorists calling for urban areas to act as a nexus for sustainable food system changes.  Therefore, this paper focuses on how sustainable food strategies are formed in an urban context.

London Olympics

The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games provides a fantastic opportunity to study the processes, interactions, and communication that occur to create a sustainable food strategy. Because the Olympic food strategy coincided with the London Food Strategy (and the creation of the London Food Board), and because many of the same people were involved with both processes, this paper examines the two processes in parallel. 

Methods and Analysis

This paper tracks the development of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games’ sustainable food strategy within the context of the city of London’s emerging food strategy.  The data used for the study include interview notes from key people in creating the sustainable food strategy for the city of London and for the Olympic Games, newspaper articles about the Olympic food strategy, and the vision statement from the Olympics Organizing Committee about food sustainability.  The interviews are analysed using content analysis to bring out the key factors leading and contributing to the food strategy.  The media accounts are analysed using thematic content analysis, to determine the main themes the media presented to the public about this sustainable food process.  The vision statement is analyzed using critical discourse analysis to examine the underlying ideas presented in the vision; to examine how the Organizing Committee chose to display the information about the processes that developed the Olympic food strategy. 

Discussion and Conclusion

This section of the paper describes in narrative form the processes, interactions and communications leading to the Olympics sustainable food strategy. The knowledge gained from case studies like this contribute to the academic literature in several ways.  The case study helps further the theories on food sustainability by showing the unique processes and vast opportunities for sustainability that exist in the urban context.  The particular interactions and communication illustrated in this case study help show how important the interaction and communication process is in planning toward sustainability changes.