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Food and Agriculture Institute

Integrated Planning

How can we ensure food systems planning and policy are effectively integrated with other sustainability imperatives?

Sustainable development is best performed through integrated approaches that recognize linkages and interdependencies between environmental, social, and economic factors. Accordingly, FAI employs systems thinking in its planning and policy research to explore how different food systems strategies and approaches align and/or conflict with other sustainability objectives, as well as to examine current progress in integrated food systems planning and policy. Current research projects include an analysis of integrated community sustainability plans in British Columbia to examine how (and how well) local governments integrate food and farm objectives with other environmental, social, and economic goals in their planning processes. Planned projects in this area include an effort that will examine the food systems vulnerabilities highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic and determine ways of increasing resilience to multiple shocks (including climate change), and a project that will use a novel analytical framework to examine how local food systems can be developed in ways that align with climate, biodiversity, and health objectives.

Dr. Rob Newell joins a panel on co-benefits approaches to planning in an event hosted by Canadian Water Network




The World Water Journey Project
This project is a multi-dimensional knowledge mobilization platform with local, regional and global collaboration nexus connecting academic, industrial, policymaker and innovators across water and climate change sectors together simultaneously embedding knowledge within communities, history and culture. Included within the platform are multi-media visual engagements that reveals diverse resources and perspectives to create a rich scientific, technical, social, cultural, historical water learning journey. Building on its foundational principles, the World Water Journey is an empowering platform that calls upon youth, community members, Indigenous cultural educators, water practitioners, citizens, artists and scientists to share knowledge to curate this collaboration-igniting journey. Generated from Waterlution program harvesting, research projects, artist commissions, competitions, calls for collaboration and problem-solving, media creations, resource guest knowledge sharing and community-based voices and partners, the platform will re-imagine ways to learn, collaborate, and create water security solutions for the world.

The Climate-Biodiversity-Health (CBH) Nexus and Integrated Food Systems Planning
This research aims to advance integrated community planning by developing an experimental framework consisting of three strategic areas critical to sustainable development: 1) climate action; 2) biodiversity conservation, and 3) community health, the climate-biodiversity-health (CBH) nexus. 


Vulnerabilities and the future of food: Integrated food systems planning and resilience
In collaboration with the FVRD government, this research project will reflect upon the challenges and vulnerabilities that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed about local and regional food systems. This project is funded by SSHRC’s Partnership Engage Grants COVID-19 Special Initiative 2020-2021.



The Integrated Community Sustainability Plans and Local Food Systems Goals Project
This research project examines municipalities in British Columbia that took part in the provincial initiative to develop an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP) in their community. Originating from the 2005 Federal Gas Tax Agreement, the province encouraged community members within their municipalities to develop an ICSP or update their existing sustainability plan. The purpose of developing an ICSP for these communities was to create a vision for their sustainable future and develop an implementation plan for how to achieve their long-term sustainability objectives. Now more than a decade after participating municipalities released their ICSP’s this research project will assess per region how municipalities included food and agriculture strategies into their sustainability plans and what are the lasting effects.


Local food sourcing in the Central Fraser Valley
The Fraser Valley is one of the most productive agricultural regions in North America and is home to diverse farming operations. There are also several urban centres in the Valley which are both home to numerous restaurants and immediately surrounded by farms. While numerous restaurants in Vancouver list foods sourced from Fraser Valley farms on their menus, there is far less visible evidence of local sourcing in the restaurants of the Central Fraser Valley, and little is known about the extent to which the area’s restaurants are sourcing from local farms. This research project assessed the current landscape of sourcing relationships between local farms and local restaurants, to understand how local sourcing relationships are formed and maintained, and to identify relevant needs and capacities.


Agriculture’s connection to health: A summary of the evidence relevant to British Columbia
The relationship between agriculture and human health in British Columbia is complex and multifaceted. The availability of healthy food is an important determinant of health, but only one of many connections between agriculture and health. Agriculture influences food choices and healthy eating patterns and impacts a variety of social, environmental and economic determinants of health. In other words, agriculture’s relationship to the environment and its role as an economic driver has implications for human health.



Sustaining and growing the Abbotsford Farm & Country Market
FAI worked with the Abbotsford Farm and Country Market to secure funding to study options for an expanded market. Funding was successfully secured from the Abbotsford Community Foundation, and team members consulted with the city and gathered case studies from other regions in order to prepare a report outlining various options for the market. We also made a presentation at the annual meeting of the market society, and a local food educator presented culinary demonstrations at the market. The report was submitted to the Abbotsford Farm & Country Market and the City of Abbotsford.


Jost, F. Newell, R., & Dale, A. (2021). CoLabS: A collaborative space for transdisciplinary work in sustainable community development. Heliyon, 7(2), e05997. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2021.e05997

O’Riordan, J., Karlsen, E., Sandford, B., Newman, L., Hotte, N., Martens, L., Strand, M., & McNamara, K. (2013). Climate change adaptation and Canada's crops and food. Burnaby, BC: Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT), Simon Fraser University, July 2013.

Powell, L., Lenore, N., & Kurrein, M. (2016). Agriculture’s Connection to Health: A summary of the evidence relevant to British Columbia. Vancouver, B.C.: Provincial Health Services Authority, Population and Public Health Program.

Newell, R., & Dale, A. (2020). COVID-19 and climate change: An integrated perspective. Cities & Health, 1-5. doi: 10.1080/23748834.2020.1778844

Newell, R., & Picketts, I.M. (2020). Spaces, places, and possibilities: A participatory approach for developing and using integrated models for community planning. City and Environment Interactions, 6, 100040. doi: 10.1016/j.cacint.2020.100040

Newell, R., McCarthy, N., Picketts, I., Davis, F., Hovem, G., & Navarrete, S. (2021). Communicating complexity: Interactive model explorers and immersive visualizations as tools for local planning and community engagement. FACETS, 6(1), 287-316. doi: 10.1139/facets-2020-0045

Superle, M., & Bridgefoot, G. (2021). Cultivate Connect: Fraser Valley farmer to market supply research. Abbotsford, BC: University of the Fraser Valley.

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