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SHARECITY: Assessing the practice and sustainability potential of city-based food sharing economies

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - SHARECITY (SHARECITY: Assessing the practice and sustainability potential of city-based food sharing economies)

Reporting period: 2020-04-01 to 2021-07-31

With planetary urbanisation fast approaching, and the impacts of COVID-19 still affecting the globe, it is clear urban areas are unsustainable, not least with respect to food consumption. Sharing, including food sharing, has been mooted as one transformative mechanism: reducing consumption, conserving resources, preventing waste and providing new forms of socio-economic relations. However, such claims have rested on thin conceptual and empirical foundations. In response, SHARECITY identified and examined diverse practices of urban food sharing, first determining the form, function and governance of food sharing initiatives and then identifying their impact and potential to reorient eating practices. The resulting SHARECITY100 is the first international, interactive online database of 100 urban locations and their food sharing initiatives. Drawing on in-depth research with food sharers and adopting a co-design approach, SHARECITY has also developed the first online Sustainability Impact Assessment toolkit - SHARE IT - a free-to-use platform for establishing sustainability impacts and developing a community of food sharing practice. Building on five years of research and working collaboratively, we have developed and visualised alternative future scenarios for urban food sharing as a means to disrupt conventional futuring practices for urban development and to engage diverse constituencies in shaping sustainable food sharing futures. The project concluded with the creation of a SHARECITY Food Sharing Manifesto, a set of guiding principles for sustainable food sharing. Conducting frontier science, SHARECITY has opened new research horizons and substantively improved understanding of how, why and to what end people share food in the 21st Century.
Task A: Foundation building, framework development & mapping
Conceptual development of a food sharing typology has been developed and published in several SHARECITY Briefing Notes (No.1-3) and SHARECITY Working Papers as well as in international peer reviewed journals, book chapters and a Special Issue for Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society (2017). More than 4,000 initiatives have been mapped and categorised on the SHARECITY100 database, which has been accessed 17,190 times from 93 countries. The SHARECITY100 enables, for the first time, comparable analysis and identification of patterns and trends in ICT-mediated urban food sharing across cities, countries and continents. It is highly productive; creating a picture of why, where, what and how contemporary food sharing takes place. The SHARECITY100 provided the foundation for more in-depth explanatory and comparative scholarly analysis.

Task B: In-depth investigation of food sharing initiatives
In-depth data collection of food sharing initiatives in contrasting contexts within and beyond Europe has been completed in nine cities: Dublin, Melbourne, Berlin, Singapore, Barcelona, San Francisco, New York, Athens and London. City Profiles derived from the SHARECITY100 Database and literature and policy reviews have been developed and are available from the project website. Results from the analysis of the rich body of ethnographic data have been published in peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, a Special Issue (Geoforum) and an open access monograph (Policy Press).

Task C: Developing SHARE IT
A co-designed on-line assessment tool – SHARE-IT – was developed to enable the sustainability impact of food sharing practices to be detailed and examined. SHARE IT has three components: the Toolshed, which provides a guided sustainability assessment process for food sharing initiatives; the Talent Garden, which serves as an online space for food sharing initiatives to share their impact assessment summaries; and The Greenhouse, a matchmaking service for food sharing initiatives to exchange knowledge and experiences. Results have been published in peer reviewed journals (e.g. EIAR). SHARECITY participated in the Horizon Results Booster scheme to develop a business plan for rolling out SHARE IT and a grant of €15,000 was awarded by the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund Programme to explore its market potential.

Task D: Food sharing futures
Drawing on four years of empirical data, the future-facing element of SHARECITY identified barriers and opportunities to develop sustainable urban food sharing. Policy was identified as a key arena of action and a multi-stakeholder workshop - SHARING FUTURES - took place in 2019 bringing together academics, food sharing practitioners, and policy shapers. Drawing on the findings of these activities and inspiration from the three horizons and backcasting approaches to futuring, three scenarios of future urban food sharing were developed. These future scenarios were visualised, and disseminated through stakeholder engagement with young people and policy makers to: 1) destabilize the view that futuring is an elite activity; 2) provide a novel means to engage differently with policy makers who rarely see food sharing initiatives as part of their everyday work; and 3) engage young people about future possibilities for sustainable food sharing. A manifesto for sustainable food sharing is the culmination of the project.
The results of the SHARECITY project have been published in 18 international peer-reviewed journal articles (with further publications in development), cited a total of 385 times as of 1st July 2021, according to Google Scholar, and shared 342 times on Twitter, blogs and in news stories, with five of the articles scoring in the top 5% of all research outputs (according to Altmetric). This is in addition to a published monograph, 4 briefing notes, 3 working papers and 6 book chapters and 88 blog posts. The SHARECITY website has been viewed over 140,000 times from 171 countries. Research findings have been disseminated through over 100 presentations at national and international events and the project and the PI have received awards and recognition from the European Research Council, Irish Research Council and UNESCO.

Progress beyond the state of the art has been made at each stage of the research process:
1. SHARECITY has developed the first typology of contemporary urban food sharing and this has been published in international peer-reviewed journals.
2. The SHARECITY100 Database has documented, for the first time, the landscape of ICT-mediated urban food sharing internationally. This has led to international peer-reviewed journals and a highly visible platform for urban food sharing.
3. The in-depth ethnographies have produced unprecedented comparative data from multi-sited ethnographies and have resulted in major publications (including a Book and Special Issue).
4. The development of the first co-designed food sharing sustainability toolkit "SHARE-IT" has been completed and is undergoing feasibility study exploring market opportunities.
5. The future of food sharing research developed novel approaches to developing and employing three visualised scenarios and a manifesto for sustainable urban food sharing.
6. A low-carbon final virtual conference provided the platform for communicating the cumulative results of the project in 2020.
SHARECITY Manifesto