macro shot of vegetable lot

In 2019, the city of Guelph was selected for the Smart Cities Challenge to achieve their wellbeing vision of a “food system where everyone can access nutritious food, nothing is wasted and the impact on our environment is minimal”. This vision came from their residents in recognition that one in six families in the region lacked food security and that the cost of healthy food was continuously rising. Meanwhile, a third of all food products were discarded as waste.

The city decided to try and build a food system driven based on the principles of prosperity, planet, and people with the purpose of building an “inclusive green economy of the future, valuing nutrition, health, diversity, equity and dignity”.

The city’s Smart City vision, ‘Our Food Future: Canada’s first circular food economy’, was to be achieved through three bold goals:

  • 50% increase in access to affordable, nutritious food;
  • 50 new circular food businesses, collaborations and social enterprises; and
  • 50% increase in economic revenues by reducing and reimagining food waste.

In order to develop a strategy to achieve these targets, they consulted extensively with community partners and stakeholders through a Theory of Change process. This process engages stakeholders in a series of thoughtful conversations about the kind of difference they want to see in the world and what they think it will take to create it. Put simply, they explored a series of “if-then” statements to connect the dots between potential activities and the outcomes that stakeholders want to achieve.

Through this process they identified 9 major areas for intervention to shift business, consumer and government behaviour and practices in line with their vision.

The city of Guelph continues this work of bringing people, ideas, and technology together
to build Canada’s first circular food economy through 9 priority projects.

Find out more here.

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