Developing a tool that contributes to the sustainability analysis of the urban food systems via food streams monitoring
Lisboa E-Nova – Energy and Environment Agency of Lisbon is a private non-profit association whose purpose is to promote the sustainable development of Lisbon and its metropolitan area.
To support the analysis of the sustainability of urban food systems, we are challenged to set up a repository, which will serve as a basis for the development of analytical applications.
We are looking for a solution that:
- Captures data about different types of food streams consumed by various food businesses at a city level, agnostic to different types of food stocks and sales management systems.
- Provides information about the carbon footprint of the food streams, based on its origin, production methods, transport, storage, and distribution, utilizing existing databases with environmental-related data.
- Is able to receive and process both input data (quantification of input volumes and consumption of food streams), and output data (food waste produced)
- Allows for the processed data to be stored in a centralized data repository, which will serve as a basis for furthering sustainable food systems in urban contexts.
Given the complexity and scope of the different elements that contribute to the level of sustainability of each link of the food system value chain, the solution presented can be modular. Specifically, in its initial phase, the tool to be developed should identify the different links of the system and create a panel of relevant indicators for each of them.
For example, for the links related to production, it is possible to use the tool to support management and assess, by type of product produced, the impact of the carbon footprint of the food produced (based on the water used in production, the use of fertilizers, the methods of pest control, the use of greenhouses, the waste produced and the way in which the waste produced is treated). For other links in the chain, such as retail or catering, the evaluation indicators must be adapted to the characteristics of each business. In these two examples, we are talking about the origin of the products, the characteristics of transport and storage, among others. Overall, the idea will be that each of these modules can be calibrated and that in the near future they can communicate in a systemic way to support a territorial evaluation system. In a broader perspective, all the information generated by the approach described above will be related to performance measures related to climate action plans and other local and regional strategies related to green infrastructure, sustainable and healthy food, environmental awareness, sustainable public procurement strategies, etc.